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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : African Studies

Postgraduate Course: Policy Focused Dissertation (Conflict, Security, and Development) (PGSP11627)

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 choosing the policy-focused dissertation option will write a dissertation of no longer than 13,500 words as well as a 1,500 word policy briefing (on the same topic as the dissertation). The 13,500 word research dissertation will account for 85% of the total mark and the policy briefing will account for 15% of the total mark. The topic must be related to conflict, security and development and be submitted by a date specified in the University Regulations, usually in mid to late August. The dissertation is an extended piece of scholarship in which a student is expected to formulate and sustain a substantive piece of independent research related to conflict, security and development. The policy briefing is a concise overview of the dissertation which also highlights its policy relevance and provides policy recommendations.
Course description Academic description
The dissertation is an extended piece of writing of up to 13,500 words, based on independent study of a topic largely of the student's choosing and in discussion with the Programme Director. It tests students' ability to conduct research autonomously, to organise effectively larger quantities of information, and to communicate their research findings in a fluent and structured fashion. Students are expected to engage with the expert literature and to reference adequately. The dissertation will be complemented by a policy briefing of no more than 1,500 words. This briefing tests the ability to write concisely, communicate to non-academic audiences and encourages students to link their research to policy recommendations.

Outline content
The course largely consists of self-study and research but will also include taught workshops to help prepare for dissertation research and writing. In addition to guidance on academic writing, these workshops will involve members of the practitioner and policy community who will advise on writing for general audiences and policy audiences. All students are required to attend the dissertation preparation workshops, which will be held in flexible learning week (February) and after semester two coursework is complete (likely in May).

Student learning experience
This is a dissertation course. Therefore, the primary form of student experience consists of students conducting their own research and writing on an in-depth project of their own choice. However, students will have two main areas of support: preparatory workshops and a supervisor.

As noted above the dissertation preparation workshops for the policy-focused dissertation will involve members of the practitioner and policy community who will advise on writing in the style needed for the policy briefing. Each student will also have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to these practitioners and get direct feedback on their ideas. Finally, students will have the opportunity to provide their completed policy briefing to the practitioner and policy makers and the chance to have it published on the participating organisations website or the university website. This provides students with the opportunity for engagement with those working in the policy community, experience writing for public and policy audiences and skills in linking research to policy recommendations. All of these are skills sought after in the security and development practitioner field and among policymaking communities.

Students will also be assigned a supervisor for their project. They can expect the following from their supervisor:

- Feedback on dissertation proposal
- Detailed feedback on one chapter
- Feedback on the general structure and organisation of the argument
- Ongoing help with specific queries
- Advice on ethical implications of the research

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:  None
Course Start Blocks 4-5 (Sem 2)
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 600 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 12, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 588 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Research dissertation, 85% 13,500 word
Policy briefing, 15%
Feedback The dissertation will be blind double-marked. This means that two internal examiners will read and mark the dissertation independently, then meet to agree the final mark. One marker may be the student's Supervisor, the other will be an independent internal marker. All dissertations are marked anonymously. The dissertation may also be reviewed by an external examiner as part of the examination process, and all marks are confirmed at the Board of Examiners
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Plan and execute a significant piece of independent research that demonstrates mastery of key research techniques relevant to the field
  2. Critically engage relevant concepts and theories in presenting a sustained argument/thesis which uses the significant relevant literature in the field
  3. Exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in time and task management, taking primary responsibility for all aspects of their work
  4. Deal self-reflexively with complex ethical and academic issues
  5. Employ professional standards in referencing and presentation
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Display the ability to critically employ theories and concepts from social research for the analysis of a range of empirical examples

Develop personal and intellectual autonomy through the development and execution of a sustained independent research project

Be able to communicate your acquired methodological and analytical insights to academic and non-academic audiences alike

KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Maggie Dwyer
Tel: (0131 6)51 5076
Course secretary
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