Welcome to the Dissertation Module! One of the most significant points to remember about the dissertation is that it is this module that gives you ‘honours’ in the BA (honours) Education Studies degree. It is a double module, running all year, and is worth twice as many credits as any other module in the final year. There are a few key principles of the dissertation that we think encapsulate its purpose. The whole of your course is developmental, and by the third year – this year – whether you have progressed from the BA, or if you have transferred after completing the Foundation Degree, you are being assessed on how well you,
apply the knowledge gained…evaluate the current state of knowledge in the
area and the ‘fitness for purpose’ of current technology’ (Lancaster University/ UCBC Revalidation Document, 2007. p.12). Perhaps most significant is the notion that, ‘Normally, no more than a pass mark is awarded for straightforward applications or repetitions of knowledge gained. Further marks are awarded which evidence the students’ ability to critically
assess the material and apply it to tasks that are new to the student.’ (p.12). It is important that we realise the step up from previous years and the very definite idea that we are looking at dissertations that allow you to demonstrate how you, ‘…develop high level academic and study skills [that] concentrate on developing reasoning
skills by exploring the limits of their academic area [with] great reliance on the students’ self-
study in applying the material taught and in reading and researching around their subject’ (p.11). The focus is on you, your ability to research, create and develop ideas that reflect a contemporary concern in education. The structure of the dissertation is quite rigid, although the ideas you use to inform this structure is very much open to your own ideas and research. The handbook is intended as a brief overview and most of the module will be done through your own research supported by regular, timely and directed meetings with your supervisor. The key to a successful dissertation is a clear idea, supported by relevant research and written in a structured way. Maintain links with your supervisor form the outset and don’t worry about asking for help – it is what we are there for.
Student/ Supervisor/ College responsibilities
Dates for the module
Literature and websites
Supervision sessions as groups will run 9 – 12 on Friday mornings. You may arrange individual supervision with your supervisor as required.
What happens in the module? The module is largely one of self-study. The supervision is there to ensure you are making the right choices, and you have expert advice when you need it BUT it is not there to tell you what to do. The focus is on independence and allows you to develop an area of expertise that you are keen to become more aware of, skilled in and want to work on in the future. The dates are below, but in essence this is the flow of the module:
Taught Sessions (initial) – These involve the lead module tutor and run for the first three weeks for one hour. The aim is to introduce the module, provide the dates and assignment briefs and begin dialogue about what you will be doing Supervision Group meetings – These will be run by your supervisor and involve the supervision group you have been allocated. They operate as tutorial sessions and allow you to discuss the overall approach to the module, and ensure you know what is expected of you. Taught Sessions (continuing) – we will have further taught sessions as we need them to discuss the sections of the proposal/ report – in these we will look at what goes in each section and we can have these when we as a group decide they are needed. Independent research – Most of the module is your own work and research. It is absolutely essential that you create a diary/ calendar of events so that you know when you are doing what and that you are well organised and able to meet deadlines. Supervision – you will have individual sessions with your supervisor where they will work with you on elements of your research project. The onus on arranging these is with you. You should arrange supervision when you are at a particular stage of the research, inform your Supervisor about what you want to discuss and ensure you have questions ready for the meeting. Supervision should last anything up to 60 minutes. Submission of Proposal and Ethics form – The deadline is in November and you need to have agreement form your Supervisor before you can proceed any further. The proposal needs to be referenced correctly and written as a full assignment. It is not graded, but it does need to pass to allow progression. Submission is online using Turnitin. Your Supervisor may request a hard copy but this is not mandatory for all. Draft Submission – You can submit up to 10% of the final word count (approx. 800 words) for formal marking ad feedback to your Supervisor. You need to agree a date for this with your Supervisor to ensure you have time to make any amendments and still meet the final deadline. At least a month before the final deadline is expected.
Final Submission It is essential that you meet the final submission deadline. Failure to do so will result in a maximum grade of 40% being allocated for the whole research report. When submitting the final report you need to meet the exact layout including: Author’s declaration/ acknowledgements/ abstract /abbreviations/ all sections of the dissertation/ appendices/ bibliography You need to submit two hard-bound copies – discuss this with your supervisor – and an electronic copy via Turnitin. We can negotiate what is submitted via Turnitin to allow for the removal of some appendices when these exceed the size allowance for the plagiarism system.
What happens Next? After the dissertation has been submitted the Supervisor you have worked with completes the first marking, working against the Lancaster University rubrics and guidelines. This can’t be blind marked, but the hard copy is not annotated in any way. On completion the dissertation (all dissertations) is second marked by a suitably qualified academic staff member form the School of Education. After this has been completed the first and second marker meet to discuss their two independently reached grades. In most cases an agreement is reached through dialogue and a final grade is given. Where an agreement can’t be reached, a third internal marker is called for – usually a senior post holder in the School and agreement is reached via hat route. External Examiner. In the weeks before the Award Board, the External examiner will read through a selection of our Dissertations. He will read all Firsts, all fails and 10% from each of the other classifications – there is a good chance he will read yours! If the External Examiner agrees with our grades we go forward to the board and ask for the award of the degree based on all your assessed work. This process means that after handing your dissertation in at the end of April, we can’t give you the agreed grade for it until the Award Board in early July. We are aware this is a long time and also that you will be very keen to know the grade you have been awarded. The size of the dissertations, and the importance we place on making sure our grades are accurate, means we can’t avoid this delay.
Supervision Guidelines Responsibilities of the Dissertation Supervisor 1.
Give guidance about the nature of the dissertation and the standard of work to be expected
Advise on p[planning and discuss a timetable of activity; link activities to sections of the dissertation and proposal
Advise students on support with learner services where required
Encourage students to acquire and maintain familiarity with contemporary developments in the field of education related to their subject
Give advice and guidance related to language skills and academic writing where appropriate
Make times available to meet with students in supervision meetings of up to 60 minutes duration where appropriate notice is provided
Provide students with contact details (telephone/ email/) to enable communication and organisation of meetings
Assist students in situations requiring leave/ absence notification and provide details of college procedures related to Mitigating Circumstances and deadline issues.
Inform student if the work produced/ presented in supervision is below standard expected
10. To advise dissertation/ Programme Leader in the event that significant issues suggest that a student appears likely to fail the dissertation module. 11. To read and mark a draft of a selection of the studentâ€™s final dissertation (maximum 10% of the total â€“ 800 words) only. Submission of more than the 10% will not be marked after the 800 word limit is reached a. The marking will include comments on appropriateness; language â€“ spelling & grammar; logic off argument; referencing; structure; tone, register and pitch; b. The supervisor should not be used as a proof-reading service. 12. The dissertation supervisor will offer advice and guidance but final decisions related to what is submitted rests with the student. 13. Work with students to ensure ethical guidelines are met and agree continuation for the proposal into the full dissertation. 14. Provide opportunities for online and face to face collaboration and peer working throughout the module
Responsibilities of the Dissertation Student 1. To agree with the tutor a suitable topic and focus for the dissertation research 2. To provide an outline for a suitable research area and rationale 3. To arrange meetings with supervisor and schedule with sufficient notice to allow for regular, timely meetings. 4. Ensure contact details provided to supervisor and update when necessary 5. Take the initiative related to problems involving deadlines and research schedules and keep supervisor informed at all times. 6. Read and adhere to ethical considerations when planning the research process.
7. Attend group sessions as planned and complete work to deadlines as set by the module tutor/ supervisor. 8. Become familiar with the outcomes for the module and the requirements of the proposal and the final submission 9. Follow guidelines for the final hand-in regarding the layout and submission guidelines as provided by the supervisor. 10. Provide an outline for each supervision meeting in advance, highlighting what section is being discussed and what help is required. 11. When submitting a draft, ensure this is in good time before the deadline to allow annotation and marking and not to exceed the 10% (800 words) limit. 12. Alert the supervisor of any personal or professional issues that affect the completion of the dissertation. 13. To make amendments as recommended by the supervisor in supervision/ proposal and/or draft marking. 14. Use any online forums and peer collaboration activities to enable the successful running of the module.
Responsibilities of the College 1. To ensure all students are allocated a supervisor with suitable academic attainment and availability to assist on the programme. 2. To provide students and supervisors with appropriate materials / resources to successfully complete the module. 3. Provide students with notification of dates/ agreements/ awards as allocated by validating body, Lancaster University. 4. Provide independent advice and guidance in dispute between student and supervisor 5. Moderate the assessment of grades and ensure a first and second marker moderation process is in place. 6. Provide Quality Assurance guidelines for the module. 7. Provide clear guidelines and documentation elated to extensions and submissions for the dissertations. 8. Offer a clear liaison between the course management, supervisors and students and the external examiner and Lancaster University.
Dates of the Module
Start of Module
• Taught Sessions - Friday 27th September • UC
• 1000 Proposal Deadline + Ethics Guideline • Friday November 22nd 2013 (Turnitin)
• Final Submission of Dissertation • Monday 11th April 2014 (Turnitin)
The dates above relate to the final submission deadlines for each piece of work. The course outlines that stipulates three weeks turnaround from submission to grading DOES NOT APPLY to the dissertation final submission. The proposal will be handed back, with agreement to continue by the break from studies at Christmas. The dissertation grades are moderated internally, and presented to the External Examiner, prior to agreed grades being returned. This will generally be after the Awards Board in early July 2013.
On the following pages are copies of the two Assignment Briefs you use in this module. The first outlines the proposal and includes details of the learning outcomes, dates and word count. You will notice that this is not a graded piece of work HOWEVER it is essential that you have the proposal agreed by your Supervisor before you continue.
In addition to the proposal you will be expected to submit an ethical approval form that needs to be agreed before any research involving human participants takes place. You may submit this earlier than the proposal deadline to allow early research activity to take place. Failure to have ethical agreement sanctioned by the Supervisor and/or the UCBC Ethics Committee may result in the dissertation being disqualified. Please familiarise yourself with all the learning outcomes in the briefs and the grading criteria for the module. These should be discussed with the Supervisor Team and any issues clarified in discussion before you begin your research.
Friday 21st November
Friday 11th April 2014 November
Activities Pre-proposal check-list Complete the skills checklist below with an honest appraisal of your skills. The grade system is 1- Very Confident
Skill assessed Choosing my research topic Harvard Referencing Research Terminology Time management/ organisation Awareness of the research in my chosen area Outline/ structure of the proposal – what the sections are and what they mean
Outline/ structure of the final report – what the sections are and what they mean
How to do Research – secondary How to do research – primary/ empirical How you will be graded
The ay the module runs
3 – not sure
4- not very confident 5 – no idea at all
Comments – what will you do to improve this?
This is a very basic outline of a time and activity chart you can use to start to develop what you will do, and when. How you do it is your choice but be aware of all deadlines and the amount of time collected data will take to be collated, and then written up Things like holiday periods and exam periods should be noted to avoid congestion and absences of your respondents. Month Activity What is Required?
October *Proposal deadline November
December *semester 1 exams January
March *Deadline for whole report April