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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 International Development OL) (PGSP11556)

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 Credits60 ECTS Credits30
SummaryThe dissertation is an extended piece of scholarship in which a student is expected to formulate and sustain substantive independent research. With contributions from the Student Development Office and programme directors, placement-based dissertations (PBDs) partner students with external host organisations to address specific research questions. This will occur through a structured academic literature review, analysis of grey/policy literature and/or fieldwork and data collection typically conducted on-location as a member of the host organisation. As with the standard dissertation, placement students are expected to demonstrate their ability to engage critically and analytically with both primary data and policy, and academic literature, building upon relevant concepts and theory covered in the taught elements of the degree. Each student will be allocated an academic supervisor at the University and a supervisory member of staff at the host organisation. They will both advise on research progress.
Course description 1. Academic Description:
The dissertation is an extended piece of writing of up to 15,000 words. The terms of the research will be agreed in advance with the host organisation and refined with the help of the supervisory team once a placement has been confirmed.
The dissertation examines students' ability to conduct research both independently and collaboratively, 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 placement projects will vary, all students will engage with key literature within international development.

2. Content:
The placement-based dissertation entails (guided) self-study and research but also incorporates a collaborative dimension. Within the terms of the placement agreement, the host organisation gives access to research resources in addition to the library and online resources the University makes available for the students to access as needed.
The dissertation will feature a 3,000 word project diary (compiled during the placement) and a 12,000 word analytical report:
- The project diary is an edited version of the progress reports that the student will send periodically to the academic supervisor and the Student Development Office. The diary allows students to: i) analyse the work undertaken in relation to the aims and objectives of the placement; and ii) analyse the obstacles encountered in fulfilling these aims and the attempts made to overcome these obstacles.
- The analytical report may vary in scope depending on the placement agreement, including policy briefs, literature reviews, project progress reports, monitoring reports, grant proposals and field-based research outputs.

3. Student Learning Experience
The form of learning is through both independent and collaborative research.
Depending on the terms of the placement agreement, the supervisory contribution of partner organisations may vary. From the University, students will receive the following as part of the supervision process:
- Meetings with programme director for approval of the placement and meetings with the University placement coordinator
- Meetings with academic supervisor (3-4, over phone/Skype) from April to submission in August
- Detailed feedback on review of academic literature and policy context
- Detailed feedback on one chapter
- Substantive feedback on the general structure and organisation of dissertation, including both the analytical report and the project diary
- Ongoing help with specific queries (email)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Researching International Development (Distance Learning) (PGSP11480)
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: 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) Dissertation (15,000 words), 100%. Assessment criteria follows the SPS PG Marking Scheme
Feedback Formative feedback: Students will receive written and verbal feedback as outlined in the course description.
Summative feedback: As per the University and SPS regulations, students will receive written feedback on the submitted dissertation.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically engage with the policy and academic literature related to the research topic and the field of international development
  2. Independently identify a research topic, and develop a feasible and appropriate research question and approach
  3. Independently undertake a defined research task
  4. Extend research skills, training and substantive knowledge acquired in the programme to produce a substantial piece of independent and collaborative work, including skills derived from applied, practical experience
  5. Construct structured, coherent and theoretical-informed analyses based upon research findings and the academic literature
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Thabani Mutambasere
Course secretaryMs Maria Brichs
Tel: (0131 6)51 3205
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