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

Postgraduate Course: Dissertation (MSc/Dip Social Anthropology) (PGSP11060)

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
SummaryAll students will undertake a 15,000 word dissertation on a topic related to the field of social anthropology to be submitted by a date specified in the University Regulations. The dissertation is an extended piece of scholarship in which a student is expected to formulate and sustain a substantive piece of research. The dissertation is expected to engage critically and analytically with the literature in the field, building upon relevant concepts and theory covered in the taught element of the degree and deploying a range of secondary (and in some cases primary) sources as well as appropriate data-analytic and bibliographic skills.
Course description This is an extended piece of scholarship that provides the opportunity to undertake supervised research on a topic of the student's own choosing. In assessing the dissertation, examiners look for similar analytic and presentational qualities to those expected in all coursework. However, they expect the dissertation to explore the chosen topic in much greater depth and to sustain a coherent analysis of considerably greater length. Students are expected to demonstrate their ability to engage critically and analytically with anthropological literature, building upon relevant concepts and theory covered in the taught element of the degree. Students are not required to conduct primary empirical research - that is, this is a library-based dissertation. The subject should be chosen iteratively, on the basis of their own interests, what staff can supervise, and what is feasible in terms of the literature and time available.

Outline Content:

The course consists mainly of self-study and research. You'll be carrying out your research and writing your dissertation over almost four months (from mid April). During this time, you will be working with your supervisor. However, while you are trying to define your topic and write your proposal, we will support you through a number of meetings/workshops. An indicative timetable of both the initial support and the work with your supervisor can be seen below.

Mid-December: A meeting to discuss the Dissertation requirements and look through the Social Anthropology MSc Dissertation Guidelines (emailed to you at the beginning of December).

End of January: A two-hour session in which (your) possible dissertation topics will be discussed and some early feedback provided.

Mid-February: Brief proposal (one paragraph long) submitted by email to the Programme Director.

Late February: A two-hour workshop that concentrates on your topics and explores different ways in which your research can be framed or focused.

Mid-March: Final proposals (one page long) submitted by email to the Programme Director.

Early April: Supervisors allocated.

Mid-April: A two-hour meeting to discuss any questions you may have and think about the best way to organize your research and writing over the summer months.

End April: first meeting with supervisor to discuss proposal and timetable. For this you need to prepare a 1000-word outline that develops your topic by relating it to some of the relevant literature and indicates (as much as possible) the way in which you are going to build your argument (think about 3 or 4 sections/chapters).

Mid-May: second meeting with supervisor, discuss progress.

20th of May: submit draft chapter

End of May/1st week of June: meet with supervisor; detailed discussion of submitted chapter.

June and July: contact with supervisor as mutually agreed.

31st July: complete the first draft, including references.

Early August: revise, edit, proof read, complete second draft; proof read, last minute revisions.

Mid-August: submit dissertation.

Student Learning Experience:

This is a dissertation course. Therefore the primary form of student experience consists of the student conducting their own research and writing in an in-depth project of their own choice. However, beyond the initial support students will receive while they are trying to define their topic and write their proposal, students can expect the following from their supervisor in the dissertation project:

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).

On-going help with specific queries.

The supervisor should:

Help the student to define the research problem and focus their 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 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).

Help in structuring the 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 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  47
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) 100% assessed by a 15,000-word dissertation.

The assessment criteria are:

Formulation and presentation of research problem.

Review of literature and contextualisation of study.

Discussion of methods used to collect and analyse relevant information, including ethics.

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.
Feedback Students will have the opportunity to receive detailed feedback on a dissertation plan and one chapter of the dissertation from their supervisor to ensure that they are on track with their research and build up to the final submission. In addition, they will receive feedback and advice both on their short (one paragraph) and longer (one page) versions of their proposal.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will gain the ability to undertake a sustained piece of supervised but independent work within the field of social anthropology.
  2. They will increase and display the research skills, training and knowledge acquired in the taught part of the degree.
  3. They will be able to demonstrate an ability to engage critically and analytically with the field of their specialist interest.
  4. They will develop the capacity to employ relevant social science concepts and theories in formulating a thesis.
  5. They will learn how to manage the conduct, presentation and timing of an independent research project, employing appropriate data-analytical and bibliographic skills.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information independent study
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Casey High
Course secretaryMs Emilia Czatkowska
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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