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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 Social Policy) (PGSP11216)

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 Credits60 ECTS Credits30
SummaryThe dissertation is an extended piece of scholarship in which a student is expected to formulate and sustain a focused piece of independent research in the field of social policy. The dissertation is expected to engage critically and analytically with relevant literature, building upon salient concepts and theory covered in the taught element of the degree and deploying appropriate analytic and bibliographic skills.

The nature of a dissertation for the MSc by Research may vary. It can be: a research proposal, in preparation for a PhD Project; a pilot project in preparation for a PhD project; a stand-alone project, that could involve analysis of documents, secondary data or it could be fieldwork based. Other types of dissertations are possible, as agreed with the Programme Director of the MSc by Research (Social Policy).
Course description The dissertation is an extended piece of writing of up to 15,000 words, based on independent study of a topic largely of your own choosing. It tests your ability to conduct research autonomously, to organise effectively bigger quantities of information and to communicate your research findings in a fluent and structured fashion. The topic is negotiated with your supervisor from within the broad field of social policy.

Outline Content

This is a supervised course in which you work autonomously, and so you will have a great deal of freedom to choose your own content.

If you are proceeding from this dissertation to a PhD or MPhil, the dissertation will normally take the form of 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 method, data collection and analysis elements, and conclusions.

The course consists of independent study and research, under the guidance of your supervisor. The timetable is for you to negotiate with your supervisor, working from January through to the submission date of mid-August. You would meet your supervisor regularly in that period, and receive advice on what to read, on your emerging ideas, and - in due course - on drafts of your dissertation.
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 Block 5 (Sem 2) and beyond
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Please contact the School directly for a breakdown of Learning and Teaching Activities
Assessment (Further Info) Please contact the School directly for a breakdown of Assessment Methods
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% assessed by a 15,000 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 The supervisor will:
- help you to define the research problem and focus your argument and topic;
- advise on the methods you will use, and on the coherence of your dissertation;
- give advice on relevant bodies of literature to get your research started or refer you to another member of staff for suggestions on sources;
- discuss and approve draft outlines and timetables of your work;
- provide comment and constructive suggestions on at least one full chapter;
- advise you on the structure of your dissertation.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate the ability to undertake an extended piece of independent scholarship in the field of social policy
  2. Critically discuss the empirical and theoretical literature in the field
  3. Establish feasible research questions
  4. Develop an appropriate research design
  5. Critically discuss methodological and data issues
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information independent study
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Richard Freeman
Tel: (0131 6)50 4680
Course secretaryMr Lee Corcoran
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
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