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

Postgraduate Course: Placement-Based Dissertation (MSc in International and European Politics) (PGSP11546)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeDissertation AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits60 ECTS Credits30
SummaryStudents will undertake a 15,000 word dissertation linked to a work-based placement on a topic related to International and European Politics, 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.

The dissertation will comprise a 12,000 word research paper and a 3,000 word diary. 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 International and European Politics. 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. There is usually expected to be a balance of empirical and theoretical work. However, students are not required to conduct primary empirical research. The subject should be chosen iteratively on the basis of students' own interests, what subjects staff are able to supervise, and what is feasible in terms of the literature and time available.
Course description Students on the MSc International and European Politics have the opportunity to embark on a work-based placement which they then write a report on in place of a standard academic dissertation. The normal expectation is that the student, in liaison with the host organisation and the Programme Director, will propose a specific research topic or question for a substantive piece of research of 12,000 words which then constitutes the the work-based placement Analytical Report. The form of the student's output to the host organisation will vary depending on the nature of the placement and the host organisation's needs. Whatever the format in which the student presents his or her results to the host organisation, the Analytical section submitted to the University as part of the work-based dissertation must be framed critically, referring to and situating itself within relevant scholarly literature and debates. Students will also be asked to submit fortnightly progress reports to their academic supervisor and the Practice Programme Manager. These will eventually form a 3,000 word Project Diary, which will be subject of formal assessment in conjunction with the Analytical Report.

Outline content
The course largely consists of independent work, self-study and research. Here is an indicative timetable of the process:

- January - WBP information meeting;
- February-March - students set up placement or apply for existing placements;
- April - meeting with academic supervisor; conclusion of work agreements;
- May - start of placement;
- May - June on placement; regular contact with supervisor as agreed; fortnightly submission of journal entries;
- July - finish first draft of Analytical Report;
- Early-Mid August - submit report and diary.

This is a dissertation course. Therefore, the primary form of student experience consists of students conducting their own research and working on an in-depth project . However, students can expect the following from their supervisor during the dissertation process:

- 3-4 consultations (on campus or online/on the phone, depending on location of placement);
- detailed feedback on a project plan and comments on one chapter of the report as well as on the diary submissions;
- help with and feedback on the general structure and organisation of the project;
- ongoing help with specific queries.

The supervisor is expected to:
- help the student set up the placement and facilitate contractual agreements (with the support of the practice programme);
- help the student identify and develop a viable and suitable project;
- offer ongoing advise on methodology, coherence and relevance of the project;
- 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)
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 2022/23, 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) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %

The course is 100% assessed by a 12,000 word analytical report and a 3,000 word project diary.

The assessment criteria are:
- Formulation and presentation of research problem;
- Review of literature and contextualisation of study;
- Development and coherence of arguments;
- Use of supporting evidence and evaluation of evidence;
- Drawing together major arguments by way of conclusion in relation to the original research problem;
- Degree of reflexivity, critical thinking and originality of argument;
- Formal presentation of dissertation: correct referencing and quoting; spelling, grammar and style; layout and visual presentation

The dissertation will be assessed based on the SSPS marking descriptors and the submission deadline would be the same as for classic dissertations.
Feedback During the dissertation project, learning takes place on a much more individual and independent basis.
General guidance on the dissertation is contained in the Graduate School Taught Masters Student
Structure and guidance for the project is provided in part through regular meetings with a supervisor,
through formal presentations of dissertation proposals and preliminary conclusions (in dedicated
workshops that will be organized for subject area once dissertation work is underway), and through
informal discussion sessions with the Programme Director and other students on the programme. The
project is, however, your own responsibility, and must be entirely of your own work. Students - and
supervisors - rights and responsibilities during the dissertation stage are described in the Code of Practice
for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.

Students will have the opportunity, as noted above, to receive detailed feedback on a project plan, one chapter and the fortnightly diary entries to ensure they make adequate progress towards the final submission.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. undertake independent work on a specified topic given a limited time frame;
  2. draw on their knowledge and insights and employ them in a practice context;
  3. demonstrate their research and analytical skills, training and knowledge acquired in the course of the agreed placement;
  4. develop original and creative responses to issues related to their specialism;
  5. demonstrate time-management, task-management, and self- motivational skills in the planning, conduct, and execution of independent research;
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Benjamin Martill
Tel: (0131 6)51 1736
Course secretaryMr John Riddell
Tel: (0131 6)50 9975
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