University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Postgraduate Course: Dissertation (MSc/Dip International Relations) (PLIT11018)

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 independent scholarship in which the student is expected to formulate and study in depth a topic largely of their own choosing, under the guidance of an academic supervisor. Students are expected to refine and extend their understanding of relevant concepts and theories introduced in the taught elements of the degree programme and to demonstrate competence in a range of primary and secondary sources as well as appropriate analytic and bibliographic skills, in order to engage critically with the literature in the field of international relations. Students are not expected to undertake the exhaustive literature review or empirical work typical of higher research degrees, although a limited period of empirical research may be included in the preparation of the dissertation.
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 the student┐s choosing. It tests students┐ ability to conduct research autonomously, to organise effectively bigger quantities of information and to communicate their research findings in a fluent and structured fashion. Student┐s are expected to demonstrate their ability to engage critically and analytically with literature in the field, building upon relevant concepts and theory covered in the taught element of the degree.

The dissertation may vary in breadth of coverage. It must have a clear focus with definable boundaries. The subject should be chosen iteratively, on the basis of the student┐s interests, what subjects staff members are able to supervise, and what is feasible in terms of the literature and time available. Students usually undertake a balance of empirical and theoretical work, but are not specifically required to conduct primary empirical research.

Students can 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), and ongoing help with specific queries (usually by email). The supervisor should:

- help students to define the research problem and focus of the 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 and/or refer you 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.
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) Total Hours: 600 ( Dissertation/Project Supervision Hours 5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 12, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 583 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 15,000 word dissertation.

A standard dissertation will be assessed according to the following criteria.
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 Each course is now required to provide the opportunity for at least one piece of formative assessment with associated feedback within an appropriate timescale to enable students to learn from this prior to the summative assessment.

This field should be used to describe the assessment and feedback strategies used on the course, along with their indicative pattern and schedule of feedback.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. undertake sustained but independent work within the disciplinary field of international relations
  2. display and extend their research skills, training and knowledge acquired in the previous coursework; ┐ refine their abilities to engage critically and analytically with the significant literature in their chosen field of their specialist interest
  3. refine their abilities to engage critically and analytically with the significant literature in their chosen field of their specialist interest
  4. employ relevant knowledge, concepts, theories and analytical approaches from the field of international relations to formulate an extended argument and develop their abilities to construct logical passages of argumentation in accordance with common canons of inferential rationality
  5. exercise and consolidate their time- and task-management, presentational, and self-motivational skills in the conduct, presentation, and time- and task-planning of their research scheduling and demonstrate attention to the relevant data analysis, referencing, and bibliographic conventions
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Andrew Neal
Tel: (0131 6)50 4236
Course secretaryMiss Jemma Auns
Tel: (0131 6) 50 24 56
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information