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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Dissertation MSc by Research Science and Technology Studies (100 credit) (PGSP11099)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeDissertation AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits100 ECTS Credits50
SummaryAll students taking the MSc by Research in Science and Technology Studies will undertake a dissertation on an appropriate topic.

The dissertation is an extended piece of independent scholarship in the field of science and technology studies. In preparing the dissertation, students will demonstrate achievement of crucial learning outcomes for the MSc by Research, drawing on relevant material covered in the taught element of the degree and through supervision. The dissertation can be up to 23,000 words in length.

The nature of a dissertation for the MSc by Research may vary. For students proceeding to a PhD or MPhil, it will normally comprise a full research proposal. In this case, it will contain an extended review of the literature, establishing the research questions, plus an extended discussion of the likely research design and any methodological issues. Alternatively, the dissertation may comprise a discrete piece of (usually empirical) research, possibly a pilot study for the eventual doctoral research. This will usually incorporate literature review, research questions, research design and methodology, data collection and analysis elements, and conclusions.

In this 100 credit dissertation, some of the elements required for a 60 credit dissertation will normally be more developed. It will normally incorporate a fairly comprehensive review of relevant literature. Dissertations taking the form of a research proposal will normally include some pilot research as well as the full proposal. Other elements that may be more developed include: more advanced engagement in relevant concepts or theory, more detailed treatment of ethical and methodological issues, implementation of a more detailed or wide ranging pilot study.

The dissertation must be submitted by a date specified in the University Regulations.

Course description The dissertation is an extended piece of writing of up to 23,000 words, based on independent study of a topic largely of the student's choosing. It tests students' ability to design and conduct research autonomously; to reflect upon methodological challenges and the implications of research choices; to organise effectively bigger quantities of information and to communicate their research findings in a fluent and structured fashion. The MSc Research Thesis is normally an outline proposal for a programme of doctoral research.

Outline content

The course consists of self-study and research. Briefings are provided through the year for the cohort of incoming research students. An indicative timetable is below.

December/January - Research student briefing; Student should have identified general area of research and potential supervisor(s)

Late February -Students submit one page outline of project proposal for group discussion and for discussion with supervisor(s)

March - April - Group review of draft research proposals
Finalise general area of research and supervisor -discuss proposal with supervisor

Mid-May- Submit first draft chapter.

June and July- Contact supervisor as mutually agreed.

Mid-July-Finish first draft.

Early-Mid August- Submit dissertation.

This is a dissertation course. Therefore the primary form of student experience consists of the student conducting their own research and writing in an in-depth project of their own choice. Students will benefit from the periodic meetings for the incoming cohort of research students and from presenting their work for joint discussion.
Students can expect the following from their supervisor:

-normally 3-4 meetings,
- detailed feedback on a dissertation plan and one chapter
-help with and feedback on the general structure and organisation of the argument(s)
-ongoing help with specific queries

The supervisor should: help the student to define the research problem and focus your argument and topic, advise on methodology, coherence and relevance of the dissertation, discuss mutual availability and methods of contact etc, give basic advice on relevant bodies of literature to get the research started and/or refer the student to another member of staff for suggestions on sources; discuss and approve draft outline and timetable of work; provide diagnostic comment and constructive suggestions on one chapter in good time (normally within two weeks of receipt); help with issues of thesis and dissertation structure; advise on outcomes of pilot studies or trials with research instruments.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 1000 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 20, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 980 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% assessed by a 23,000 word dissertation.

The assessment criteria are:
1. Formulation and presentation of research problem
2. Review of literature and contextualisation of study
3. Discussion of methods used to collect and analyse relevant information, including ethics
4. Development and coherence of arguments
5. Use of supporting evidence and evaluation of evidence
6. Drawing together major arguments by way of conclusion in relation to the original research problem
7. Degree of reflexivity, critical thinking and originality of argument
8. Formal presentation of dissertation: correct referencing and quoting; spelling, grammar and style; layout and visual presentation
Feedback Students will have the opportunity, as noted above, to receive detailed feedback on a dissertation plan and one chapter of the dissertation to ensure that they are on track with their research and build up to the final submission.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. carry out a sustained piece of independent scholarship, involving project and time management
  2. achieve a command of existing knowledge in their field of research, through critical review of relevant literature engaging with salient debates
  3. frame a coherent and answerable set of research questions, to justify these in relation to existing knowledge and theory, and to demonstrate that answering them would constitute an advance on existing knowledge
  4. demonstrate an understanding of research methods, including methods of data collection and analysis, appropriate to the research topic and questions to be answered, taking due account of ethical concerns
  5. where relevant, demonstrate the ability to implement the chosen research design and methods of data collection, to reflect critically upon the implications of pilot research for a fuller study) and interim conclusions
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Robin Williams
Tel: (0131 6)50 6387
Course secretaryMs Agata Paluba
Tel: (0131 6)50 3772
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