THE3082 - Theology Dissertation

2021/2 Module description

StaffProfessor Susannah Cornwall - Lecturer
Professor Morwenna Ludlow - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module provides an opportunity to carry out independent research in a sustained way on a chosen topic. The dissertation is written in your final year, and will allow you to put to use the skills you have acquired in the first two years of the programme, by thinking at length about a question that is of particular interest to you.

Module aims

This core module provides an opportunity for you to carry out independent research in a sustained way on a topic chosen by you (with advice), and to present the findings of research in an extended piece of academic written prose. It also gives you an opportunity to develop your presentations skills, presenting on your project to a small group of students and academic staff and answering questions.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. research and write at length, in an independent and self-critical way, about a self-selected topic in Theology and Religion
  • 2. synthesise and make critical use of a range of disciplinary approaches to the study of Theology and Religion

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. demonstrate comprehension of and intelligent engagement with the study of Theology and Religion in some of its varied forms
  • 4. demonstrate critical assessment of theological and religious contributions to debate in the public arena
  • 5. evaluate and critically analyse a diversity of primary and secondary sources

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. undertake independent work within broad guidelines
  • 7. shape information independently into a coherent and creative account
  • 8. make critical and independent use of written sources
  • 9. communicate clearly in a written form
  • 10. communicate clearly in a presentation

Syllabus plan


A provisional broad topic for your dissertation must be decided in the Summer Term of the second year (or at the end of Stage 2) in consultation with appropriate members of staff. You will be expected to have at least a rough idea of the area within which you wish to work; staff will help define the topic in detail and give assistance with bibliography.

The proposal must include the following:

  • a brief account of the dissertation topic, indicating questions which you intend to address
  • a chapter plan, with brief statements of the projected content of each chapter
  • a bibliography of the works which you have consulted or will need to consult, set out in the format you will use for the dissertation itself
  • a description of the range of source material available on your topic, with a brief statement of how you intend to handle it and any problems of method which it may pose.

You will need to submit your research proposal by the end of June in your penultimate year of study (exact date to be advised). This is a critical part of the module and failure to submit a proposal may mean that students cannot progress or gain credit for this module.

The broad subject of your dissertation must be agreed by the Module Convenor before the end of the second year (or Stage 2); they will also appoint a supervisor to work with you. 


You will receive feedback on your proposal from your assigned supervisor.

Throughout the year you should keep in regular contact with your supervisor who will ensure that a realistic work schedule is maintained, but you should remember that a dissertation largely involves independent work on your part.

The maximum time allowed for consulting your supervisor is three hours

Since the dissertation must be substantially your own work, the appropriate assistance provided by the supervisor is defined as:

  • initial discussion of an appropriate topic, title, contents and research material;
  • comment on one draft of each chapter in turn or of one draft of the whole dissertation. Such comment will be focussed on identifying any obvious weaknesses in the argument and suggesting directions for further research.  Supervisors should not be expected to give a mark/grade to drafts.  

You should revise the dissertation before final submission in the light of the supervisor’s comments.

Draft chapter

You will be expected to submit a draft chapter (minimum 2000 words) at the beginning of Term 2 (exact date t be advised).  If you do not, the Department may not release the mark for the presentation (see below).


In January you will be expected to deliver a  presentation on the topic of your dissertation to a small group of staff and students, which will constitute 10% of your mark for this module.

The presentation should explain as clearly as possible the central question or theme of your dissertation, outline the ways in which you are hoping to answer that question, and indicate the sources on which you are drawing, together with a provisional indication of your conclusion. This process is designed to ensure that you do have a clear central argument or thesis to your dissertation, and that you have been exposed to a wide range of possible questions or challenges to that argument or thesis.

You will present your work for seven minutes and then respond to questions for a further seven minutes.

Writing and presenting your dissertation

Further details are available in the Theology and Religion handbook.

Dissertations are regarded as examinable components and as such, feedback will not be available until after the exam board has met.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Dissertation tutorials
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Presentation
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Dissertation information sessions
Guided Independent Study293Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Meetings with supervisor to discuss plans and drafts.3 hours1-10In meeting with supervisor

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Presentation1015 minutes including questions2-8, 10Oral and written feedback
Dissertation9010000-12000 words1-10Written feedback on BART sheet

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PresentationPresentation2-8, 10To be arranged individually with module convenor
DissertationDissertation1-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

As determined by the research subject, plus

  • Greetham, Bryan (2019), How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation (3rd edition), London: Macmillan Study Skills
  • Leicester, Mal and Denise Taylor (2017), Get a Better Grade: Seven Steps to Excellent Essays and Assignments, London: Sage
  • Shon, Phillip C. (2018), The Quick Fix Guide to Academic Writing: How to Avoid Big Mistakes and Small Errors, London: Sag

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Last revision date


Key words search

dissertation; theology; religion; independent

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