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GUIDANCE NOTES ON THE DISSERTATION
You will have one additional lecture in term two which will give details of how to decide on a research topic, submitting your dissertation proposal form, and the supervision process. You will actively be working on your dissertation research/receiving supervision for the duration of term 3. You will also receive five ‘advanced research methods’ taught sessions in the five weeks following the Easter break.
Please do not plan extended holidays/travel during this period as you must be working full time on your dissertation during this period.
You must all submit the proposal form to Deirdre Lombard by March 15th 2018.
You must all submit the ethical clearance form to Deirdre Lombard by 10th May 2018.
You must submit your literature review and methodology drafts to your supervisor by 4pm on 28th June 2018
You must submit your complete dissertation by 4pm on 27th September 2017
You must all complete the pro-forma outlining your proposed topic for the dissertation. This is included in the programme handbook and available on the learn server. The proposal must be submitted to Ms Deirdre Lombard by the March 15th March 2018.
Following submission of the dissertation topic you will be allocated a dissertation supervisor in early May. The dissertation module requires you to produce a 10,000-12,000 word final project report written in the style of a refereed journal article that outlines the theoretical context for the research and its key findings. (100% of the final dissertation mark).
You will also be required to submit drafts of your literature review chapters and methodology chapters to your supervisor by
It is important to specify the topic precisely and in as much detail as you can within the word-limit. MA dissertation proposals are often too vague or too ambitious. Time will need to be spent on focusing the topic into manageable form, and managing your time so that a suitable schedule for completion of the work is formulated.
Your dissertation can be either literature- or research-based. The first option involves developing a closely focused, critical interpretation of a subject area, collective body of theory, theoretical tradition or individual corpus of work. The second option involves generating and analysing your own research data. The distinction between these two options is by no means clear-cut, and many dissertations combine elements of both. For example, even critical-based dissertations often use primary examples collected and analysed by the student, while research-oriented dissertations include a critical review of the relevant literature.
Given the general slant on the MA in Media and Cultural Analysis and MA in Global Media and Cultural Industries, though, and the importance attached to the Production and Reception Analysis and Textual Analysis Research Techniques modules in setting the stage for your dissertation, most dissertations on the programme will either be research-oriented or contain a strong element of primary research, with part of the dissertation given over to presenting, and critically reflecting on, the methodology involved.
Most forms of extended research involve a literature review. The following provides a useful guide to these: Arlene Fink (1998) Conducting Research Literature Reviews, London: Sage.
Student and supervisor should meet as soon as possible after Easter to discuss provisional ideas for the research project and to start work on developing the research question, considering the research methods to be employed, the relevant bodies of literature, the schedule for the project, and a working structure for the dissertation.
It is your responsibility to schedule meetings with your supervisor. They will not chase you for meetings. Please contact them as soon as you have been allocated a supervisor and maintain regular contact with them throughout the supervision period.
During this period, it is acceptable for students to change their minds about their initial research topic. However, once your literature review and methodology chapters have been drafted, submitted and commented on, the topic cannot be changed.
In the first supervision session your supervisor will ask you to develop a timetable/work plan for research to ensure that you have a clear idea of how long each task will take to complete. It is your responsibility to produce this plan and to ensure you discuss it with your supervisor.
Formal tutorial supervision is not offered during July and August. Supervisors will be available during September to read through drafts of student dissertations and offer advice and guidance. If supervisors are not available for supervision during all weeks in September you may be offered alternative weeks of supervision during July or August.
By the time supervision recommences in September you should have completed the bulk of your project and be ready to send draft analytical chapters to your supervisor. If you don’t do this in early September your supervisor may not have time to comment on them before the deadline.
Please do not book extended holidays/travel during the summer. You MUST be working on your dissertation full time even when there is no direct supervision. You must agree any extended time away from the university with your dissertation supervisor in advance and give a comprehensive account of how you intend to ensure the timely completion of your research.
Supervisors will be able to comment on draft dissertation chapters but they can only look at ONE draft of each chapter. Supervisors require at least one week to read and comment on draft work. This should be taken into account when developing your work plan.
Please remember that the supervisor is there to guide you, not to undertake your project. It is your responsibility to ensure to ensure your project is well designed and undertaken in a timely manner.
1. ETHICAL CLEARANCE
If you are doing research which involves human participants (survey, interviews, focus groups, online research) you MUST complete an ethical clearance checklist (available on learn). This has to be signed by your supervisor and submitted to Deirdre Lombard on 10th May 2018.
You cannot undertake any research with human participants without completing this form.
4. SUBMITTING DRAFT WORK
You are required to submit two draft chapters of your dissertation to your supervisor in order to receive comments and guidance on the progress of your work. These are drafts of the Literature Review and Methodology chapters. The deadline for this submission is 28th June 2017. Although this will not be given a formal grade it is absolutely vital that you submit these chapters in order to ensure the progression of your project and for you to receive feedback on your work which will assist in the development of your dissertation.
You can submit further draft chapters to supervisors for comment and feedback. Supervisors are able to comment on one draft of each chapter. Please note that supervisors will comment on the substantive intellectual content of your work and will not proof read it. If you need extra language support or a proof-reading service please consult the English Language Support Unit.
5. THE FINAL REPORT
The final report should be 10,000-12,000 words (this limit excludes illustrations, appendices and the bibliography). In format, the report should be modelled upon the presentational conventions associated with refereed journal articles. (If you are unsure of these, please consult examples from the on-line journals available through the Electronic Library. Media, Culture and Society and European Journal of Communication are good examples). The report should provide (a) a clear and concise theoretical context for the study, identifying and summarizing relevant work already in existence, (b) a description of the design of the research methods used, (c) the substantive findings from the research and analysis of those findings, and (d) a concluding section that elaborates upon the broader implications of the study.
6. PRESENTATION OF THE DISSERTATION
• The dissertation must be typed on A4 paper and double-spaced. A 1 inch margin should be left on three sides and a 1.5 inch margin should be allowed in the left-hand side.
• The length of the dissertation should be no less than 10,000 words and no more than 12,000 words. These limits exclude appendices and the bibliography.
• Two loosely bound copies of the dissertation should be handed in by the deadline. One copy will be returned to you after the Board of Examiners Meeting.
• The dissertation should follow the standard format that is set out below.
7. MA DISSERTATION FORMAT
• Title page (Roman Numeral Paging). The first page of the dissertation should give the title in block capitals, your name, the month and year date of submission, and the degree programme: M.A. in Media and Cultural Analysis.
• Acknowledgements (Roman Numeral Paging). Any people or organisations you wish to acknowledge should be included in this section. The section should also include any copyright permissions.
• Abstract (Roman Numeral Paging). Three hundred word abstracts should offer a concise summary of the dissertation – its subject-matter and scope, its methods, its findings and its conclusions.
• List of contents (Roman Numeral Paging). Here is an example of how your Contents page might look:
Acknowledgements p i
Abstract p ii
Introduction pp 1 – 3
Chapter 1: Title pp 4 – 15
Chapter 2: Title pp 16 – 27
Chapter 3: Title pp 28 – 45
Appendices pp 46 – 49
Bibliography pp 50 – 58
• Introduction (Page number from 1) Your introduction should outline what the dissertation is about, its aims, its methodology, and its structure, with a chapter-by-chapter summary.
• Literature review.
• Analysis Chapters. There is no rule as to the number or length of chapters, but most dissertations have between 5 and 7 chapters.
• Citation. Please use the same system of citation as for the coursework (see above).
• Appendices. The bulk of any data and complete transcriptions of any interviews should appear, if at all, in appendices. These should then be referred to in the main text where relevant, e.g. see Appendix A or B. Once again, the words in appendices do not count towards the maximum word total for your dissertation.
• Bibliography. This lists in alphabetical order the bibliographical details of all sources cited in the dissertation.
Language. All dissertations must be written in English, and spelling should be consistent with the Oxford English Dictionary. You should write in gender-neutral language. For example, avoid the use of masculine pronouns (he, him, his) unless specifically referring to a male, and do not automatically assume that a given category, as for example a lecturer or a broadcaster, is male. You should also avoid all racist language. If you are in any doubt about this, please consult members of staff for more information.
Marking. The dissertation is marked by the supervisor, another internal examiner from the Department of Social Sciences, and the External Examiner.