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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Policy

Undergraduate Course: Dissertation (MA Social Policy) (SCPL10012)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
Course typeDissertation AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryDissertation on a Social Policy topic of the students choice
Course description 1a. Academic description
The dissertation is a lengthy piece of writing of between 10,000 and 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 way. You will negotiate the topic with your supervisor from within the broad field of social policy.

1b. 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.
In choosing your topic, you should think about your own interests and also what is feasible in the time available. You also need a topic which is more than an essay. This means that you must identify an issue, question or controversy with reference to public debate and to the existing academic literature, and then attempt to illuminate or answer it by analysing some evidence. You can use either primary evidence (i.e. evidence that you gather and analyse yourself) or secondary evidence (i.e. evidence that has been gathered by someone else and that you will reanalyse), or both.
You will be allocated a supervisor who has research expertise in the field that you choose, and who will help you in finalising your topic. Staff in Social Policy conduct world-class research in a wide range of fields, and so your work will be guided by leading scholars in the field you have chosen.

1c. Student learning
The course consists of independent study and research, under the guidance of your supervisor. You will be asked to submit a draft topic for the dissertation by the end of your Junior Honours year. On the basis of that, you will be assigned a supervisor who has research expertise in that topic. In fourth year, you will work with your supervisor to compete the plans for the project by the middle of the first semester. You would normally complete the collection of evidence by the end of the first semester, complete the analysis of it and a first draft of the dissertation by the middle of the second semester, and revise the dissertation in response to comments from your supervisor in the second half of the second semester.
You are expected to see your supervisor regularly in your Senior Honours year. It is your responsibility to arrange these meetings and to come with work done for each meeting (a good practice is to email a summary of what you have done or a chapter written in advance of the meeting). Although you will be taking courses at the same time, you are expected to keep working on your dissertation throughout the two semesters.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
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: 400 ( Dissertation/Project Supervision Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 382 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% assessed by a 10,000-15,000 word dissertation. Your dissertation will be assessed according to these criteria:
Show detailed knowledge of an area of social policy.
Conceptualise, plan and carry out an agreed project.
Search, synthesise and critically review existing scholarship in a field of study.
Identify, obtain and systematically analyse new evidence or existing research evidence relevant to answering a specific research question.
Identify the implications of research findings for theory, policy or practice.
Feedback The supervisor will:
help you to define the research problem and to 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 detailed knowledge in relation to an area of social policy
  2. Conceptualise, plan and carry out an agreed project
  3. Search, synthesise and critically review existing scholarship in a field of study
  4. Identify, obtain and systematically analyse data and/or existing research evidence relevant to answering a specific research question
  5. Identify the implications of research findings for theory, policy and/or practice
Reading List
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
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Course organiserDr Daniel Kenealy
Tel: (0131 6)50 4080
Course secretaryMr Alexander Dysart
Tel: (0131 6)51 5197
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