Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Dissertation MSc by Research Social and Political Science (Sociology) (PGSP11504)

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 AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits120 ECTS Credits60
SummaryThe dissertation is an extended piece of independent scholarship. It is the main work in which students demonstrate achievement of crucial learning outcomes for the MSc by Research, drawing on relevant material covered in the taught element of the degree and through supervision. The dissertation can be up to 18,000 words in length.

The nature of a dissertation for the MSc by Research may vary. For students proceeding to a PhD or MPhil, it will normally take the form of a full research proposal. Alternatively, the dissertation may comprise a discrete piece of (usually empirical) research, possibly a pilot study for the eventual doctoral research or a standalone project.
Course description 1. Academic description:
The dissertation is an extended piece of writing of up to 18,000 words, based on independent study of a topic largely of the student's own choosing. It tests the ability to conduct research autonomously, to organise effectively bigger quantities of information and to communicate research findings in a fluent and structured fashion. The topic is negotiated with a supervisor from within the School of Social and Political Science.
2. Outline Content:
This is a supervised course in which students work autonomously, and will have a great deal of freedom to choose their own content.
The nature of a dissertation for the MSc by Research may vary. For students proceeding to a PhD or MPhil, it will normally take the form of a full research proposal. In this case, it will contain an extended review of the literature, establishing the research questions, plus an extended discussion of the likely research design and any methodological issues. Alternatively, the dissertation may comprise a discrete piece of (usually empirical) research, possibly a pilot study for the eventual doctoral research or a standalone project. This will usually incorporate literature review, research questions, research design and methodology, data collection and analysis elements, discussion and conclusions.
3. Student learning experience:
The course consists of independent study and research, under the guidance of a supervisor. The timetable is for students to negotiate with their supervisor. Supervision meetings will be regular. In the initial period the aim is to narrow down a broader research topic and to discuss the student's emerging ideas. Advice will be given on what to read. This is followed by a focus - in due course - on draft chapters of the dissertation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Block 5 (Sem 2) and beyond
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 1200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 24, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 1176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Assessment 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«br /»
6. Drawing together major arguments by way of conclusion in relation to the original research problem«br /»
7. Degree of reflexivity and critical thinking; originality of argument«br /»
8. Formal presentation of dissertation: correct referencing and quoting; spelling, grammar and style; lay-out and visual presentation.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Carry out a sustained piece of independent scholarship, involving project and time management.
  2. Frame and design a coherent and answerable set of research questions, to justify these in relation to existing knowledge and theories, and to demonstrate that answering them would constitute an advance on existing knowledge.
  3. Achieve a command of existing knowledge in their field of research, through a critical review of relevant literature engaging with salient debates.
  4. Demonstrate a critical understanding of research methods, appropriate to the research topic and questions, taking due account of any practical, political and ethical issues affecting the conduct of the research.
  5. Where relevant, demonstrate the ability to implement the chosen research design and methods of data collection and analysis and produce scholarship that demonstrates the ability to integrate theoretical and empirical element.
Reading List
Booth, A., Papaioannou, D. and Sutton, A. (2012) Systematic approaches to a successful literature review, London: Sage.
Bryman, A. (2012) Social Research Methods, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cryer P (2006). The research student¿s guide to success (3rd ed.). Buckingham: Open University Press.
Dunleavy P (2003). Authoring a PhD thesis. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Gilbert GN (ed.) (2006). From postgraduate to social scientist. London: Sage.
Gough, D., Oliver, S. and Thomas, J. (2012) An introduction to systematic reviews, London: Sage.
Punch KF (2006). Developing effective research proposals (2nd edn.). London: Sage.
Ridley, D. (2012) The literature review. A step-by-step guide for students (2nd ed.). London: Sage.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Independent research: Conduct research and enquiry into relevant issues through research design, the collection and analysis of quantitative and/or qualitative data, synthesising and reporting.
Analytical thinking: Analysis of data, synthesis and critical appraisal of literature.
Critical thinking: Capability to evaluate information thoroughly; identifying assumptions, detecting contradictory reasoning and defining terms accurately in order to make an informed judgement.
Numeracy: Proficiency, confidence and competence with numbers and measures.
Handling complexity and ambiguity: have an understanding of contextually relevant ethics and values, follow ethical guidelines, demonstrate reflexivity and positionality in relation to own research topic.
Keywordsresearch,dissertation,Msc by Research,social,political
Course organiserDr Steve Kirkwood
Tel: (0131 6)50 6646
Course secretaryMs Emilia Czatkowska
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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