Postgraduate Course: Placement-Based Dissertation (MSc African Studies) (PGSP11541)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||Students will undertake a 15,000 word dissertation linked to a work-based placement on a topic related to Africa Studies issues, to be submitted by a date specified in the University Regulations, usually mid-August. The dissertation will comprise a 12,000 word research paper and a 3,000 word project diary. The placements generally consist of eight weeks of on-location research with a host organisation in the UK or overseas, from our network of contacts which research institutes, think-tanks and government bodies.
The dissertation is an extended piece of scholarship in which a student is expected to formulate and sustain a substantive piece of independent research in Africa Studies. The final 3,000 word diary will be submitted alongside the research paper, and fortnightly draft submissions will also be required.
The work is expected to engage critically and analytically with the literature in the field, building upon relevant concepts and theories introduced in the taught elements of the degree and deploying a range of primary and secondary sources as well as appropriate data-analytic and bibliographic skills. Each student will be allocated a research supervisor by the end of the second semester to advise on and oversee her/his research progress.
1. Academic Description:
The dissertation is an extended piece of writing of up to 12,000 words, plus a 3000 word project diary. It is based on independent study of a topic largely of the student┐s choosing and in discussion with the Programme Director and supervisor. It examines students┐ ability to conduct research independently, to effectively organise and assess substantial quantities of information, and to communicate their research findings in a fluent and structured fashion. While the nature and focus of projects will vary, all students will engage with key literature within global health policy.
The dissertation course entails (guided) self-study and research. In addition, research training will be provided through the Research in Africa core course of the MSc in African Studies that runs during semester 2.
3. Student Learning Experience
All dissertations are research-based and the choice of topic will be decided on in collaboration with the host organisation. The dissertation should be theoretically and empirically grounded, through its critical engagement with a substantial body of literature.
What you can expect from your supervisor:
Normally, supervisors will meet with their students 3 or 4 times during the dissertation process. They will provide input and guidance on your research proposal, including your research questions, methods, literature, and timeline. During the writing process, after the bulk of your research is done, they will provide feedback on your dissertation outline and structure and will provide substantive feedback on one chapter.
What your supervisor will expect from you:
You are responsible for initiating contact with your supervisor; creating your research question and driving your research forward; proposing and agreeing on a dissertation timeline; and flagging up any issues or challenges in a timely manner so they can be addressed. Your supervisor is a resource for you to use wisely - they will not proactively chase you for work, initiate supervision meetings, or provide specific reading lists.
In your first meetings, you should: present, discuss, and reform your dissertation proposal; decide on how often you will communicate in the coming months; share a detailed timeline for research and writing plans (including any travel); and agree when you will be submitting your chapter for substantive feedback. Providing that your chapter submission is pre-planned, you should expect feedback within about two weeks.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Critically engage with the policy and academic literature related to the research topic and the field of African Studies
- Independently identify a research topic, and develop a feasible and appropriate research question and approach
- Independently undertake a defined research task
- Extend research skills, training and substantive knowledge acquired in the programme to produce a substantial piece of independent work
- Construct structured, logical and theoretical-informed analyses based upon research findings and the academic literature
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr George Karekwaivanane