You should be able to:
- Identify and develop an area of research in line with their programme of study.
- Critically evaluate the theoretical, empirical or other materials on which the dissertation draws.
- Design and implement a programme of research and investigation
- Engage in a process of critical reflection during the process of implementation, amending the progress of the research where necessary;
- Gather and analyse data in accordance with sound principles of research and investigation;
- Synthesise the work into a fluent and cogent piece of written work.
- Demonstrate the abilities to think and present arguments in a logical fashion and to support assertions and conclusions with critical and analytical argument
- Present research outcomes in a format consistent with standard academic approaches
So what do we look for? Or rather what competencies should you demonstrate in the dissertation? You should be able to demonstrate you can:
- Conduct a comprehensive literature search to identify relevant journal articles and books.
- Construct a Literature Review which summarises and synthesises relevant academic knowledge into a coherent (sorted and structured) argument.
- Develop a relevant and relatively precise focus with appropriate research questions or objectives
- An accessible and achievable (within the time/resource envelope) geographic, organisational and subject focus
- Plan and execute the research in an ethically balanced manner
- Devise and justify an appropriate methodology
- Collect ‘quality’ evidence to facilitate answers to your questions
- Process and analyse ‘data’, synthesise and evaluate results
- Discuss ‘empirical’ evidence in the context of the literature reviewed in a reflective manner
- Summarise the key elements
- Construct critical conclusions
The assessment criteria below indicate how your work will be assessed.
Distinction (70 or above)
A distinction is awarded for work that shows a wide breadth of knowledge and application, together with an ability to develop and sustain an appropriate depth of argument and level of reflection across the whole of the dissertation. A thorough synthesis of the available literature is provided and this sets a clear rationale for the study. Key themes are identified and fully developed. The research remains focused at all times, while transparency is ensured through appropriate explanation and justification of the research design used. A high level of accuracy, insight and clarity of thought is demonstrated in the analysis of the findings, leading to valid conclusions and recommendations. The work provides evidence of originality in its approach to theory and/or method and/or application, and is suitable for publication (with necessary editing). The organisation and presentation are excellent throughout, with accurate and consistent bibliographic citations from a wide range of relevant sources.
Merit (65 – 69)
This mark shows a dissertation that is focused, shows clear understanding of the research design, and provides an appropriate level of evaluation and critical analysis of the findings. Adequate conclusions and recommendations are reached and the investigation of the literature gives a clear contextualisation for the research. However, the study does not provide the in-depth understanding and synthesis of work associated with Distinction level. The structure and presentation are of a high standard and include accurate/consistent bibliographic citations reflecting the use of appropriate sources.
Pass (50 – 64)
A dissertation at this level identifies key issues and demonstrates reasonable/satisfactory competence in carrying out an advanced, independent study. The literature review sets the study into context although some aspects might have needed deeper investigation. Relevant issues or factors are identified and developed using a coherent structure and a research strategy that is appropriate to the investigation. Aspects of the study may not be fully integrated and related back to the research objectives and focus. The work, however, may fail to support conclusions fully by drawing strands together or by referring back to the objectives and to issues raised by the literature review. Overall the structure and presentation are satisfactory, although the bibliographic citations may include some inconsistencies or the references are not entirely appropriate.
Fail (below 50)
This grade is awarded for work that exhibits a number of the following weaknesses: the topic researched is not relevant; the literature review fails to provide a coherent rationale for the study, or the account relies excessively on direct quotations or paraphrasing of published material while lacking in critical analysis of the key issues raised; the research objectives have not been articulated clearly or fail to address themes that are key to the investigation; there is evidence of some acquisition of research skills, but this is seriously flawed by the lack of clarity in the implementation of the study; the research instruments need to be substantially redesigned for the research to reach an adequate standard of academic and professional competence; the work is poorly expressed, poorly presented, and the standard of bibliographic citation falls below an acceptable level. The sources used are out of date or irrelevant to the topic examined.
Title Page, Acknowledgements, Abstract, Table of Contents, Table of Figures, usually on separate pages
Brief background, research aims, significance of the study and outline
- Chapter 2: Literature Review
Background theories, summary of material relevant to the research.Literature context, theoretical or conceptual frameworks generally.
- Chapter 3: Methodology
Key research objectives, key methods and data sources, justification for approach taken, evaluation of validity and reliability of evidence, Information specific to place/organisation。
- Chapter 4: Data Analysis or Results
Presentation of findings, with appropriate tabulation, graphs, maps, verbatim quotations, case studies.
- Chapter 5: Discussion
Discussion and interpretation of the results. Evaluation in the context of the reviewed literature
- Chapter 6: Conclusion
Recommendations, Limitations and summary of entire dissertation
Appendix: glossary of terms, sample questionnaire, raw data (where appropriate) correspondence (not included in the word count)