6.5 MA DISSERTATIONS

The Dissertation project is the culmination of your Master’s programme. The ability to conceive, plan, research and write-up an independent project of 20,000 words counts for one third of your total degree credits. If you are aiming to apply for a PhD place, or are already on the 4-year PhD programme, the Dissertation is a crucial moment in identifying and testing your research ideas and skills. Those scrutinising applications to undertake a PhD will pay close attention to the Dissertation project and its grade. If you are undertaking the MA for personal or professional development, the Dissertation project is your opportunity to test your learning, display your knowledge and skills, and explore in detail a topic that interests you. The Dissertation is the most challenging and the most rewarding part of the Master’s programme. It is important to take time to think about your project early on, to ensure that you get the most out of this opportunity to undertake a sustained piece of independent research. We have set out the following structure to help you through the Dissertation project.

Students are encouraged to begin to develop their Dissertation ideas during the second term (for part-time students, the second term of the second year of studies). The dissertation module seminars should have started you thinking about your own research style, interests, area, questions, etc. It is a good idea to keep a note of these ideas in a Dissertation notebook. Staff will direct you towards potential supervisors, resources, archives and reading material to help you clarify your questions. You will write up these ideas in the form of a Dissertation Proposal (2,000 words) submitted in Term 3. You can discuss your ideas with staff as soon as you have something to discuss! Make an appointment during office hours, and take or send in advance a note summarising your proposed topic to help the discussion. Once the Dissertation Proposal has been submitted, you will be assigned to a supervisor with interests and knowledge appropriate to the chosen topic.

Students should expect to have regular contact with their supervisors during the researching and writing of the dissertation. There should be a minimum of three meetings between student and supervisor: at the very beginning of the process to discuss the focus and direction of the research; following the submission of the 2000 word extract to set out a plan of work and to discuss major conceptual and methodological issues relevant to the project; and later in the process to discuss progress and receive feedback on the draft 5000 words supervisors can read in detail. Dissertation supervision can take many forms, including face-to-face office meetings, telephone conversations or e-mail. You should work out a plan for your supervision with your Dissertation supervisor early in the relationship, and check dates for availability over August especially to receive feedback on the draft 5000 words supervisors can read in detail.  It is expected that the formal supervision process will be concluded by July 31st.  Since the dissertation is an independent study project, supervisors should not provide any substantial assistance after this date but they will be available to answer questions by email.

Dissertation Submission
By the required deadline you should submit to the Humanities Education Team two printed or type-written bound copies of the dissertation (which shall include a summary or abstract of approximately 300 words), one copy of which shall become the property of the University. The dissertation should be approximately 20,000 words, including quotations and footnotes, and excluding bibliography, on a subject chosen by you in consultation with your dissertation supervisor on a defined aspect of the material covered during the year. Creative Writing students should note that the Creative Writing Dissertation normally comprises 15,000 words of creative work and 5000 words of critical reflection.
 
For details on extensions please see the College Handbook: http://intranet.exeter.ac.uk/humanities/studying/taughthandbook/assessment/extensions,_deferrals_and_mitigation/.

Full-time students submit their dissertation by the deadline of the year following their registration on the programme; part-time students submit at the end of the second year’s deadline. To apply for the examination of the dissertation candidates should submit a form of entry that includes certification from the Programme Leader that the candidate has completed the required period of study for the degree. The dissertation should include the candidate's signature certifying that all the material in the dissertation that is not the candidate's own work is identified and that the dissertation does not include any material previously submitted and approved for a degree.

Binding Services
When you first receive this Handbook it will be early days to start thinking about your dissertations/theses but a useful fact to know is that the Student Guild offer very cheap binding services. The Students' Guild Print Room is located on the Mezzanine Level of the Forum, opposite the main library entrance and found immediately at the top of the flight of stairs adjacent to the Student Information Desk in the main street. They are open 09.00-17.00 Monday-Friday (excluding Bank Holidays), closed Saturday and Sunday and will bind-while-you-wait, but be warned - this may not be the case when you need it as all University postgraduate students may be meeting the same deadline as you! For a list of prozes and services, please use the following link: https://www.exeterguild.org/pageassets/print/price-list-15062016.pdf.

You can also use the services of the Media and Resources centre on St Luke’s campus (open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and Wednesday evenings in term-time). Both options are reasonably cheap, but if you are looking at bound copies with gold foil printing, then you might consider alternative sources. One reputable company that we know of is P. Franklin, Bookbinder and Foil Blocker, Unit 9, Hungry Fox Estate, Broadclyst, Exeter, EX5 3LY. Telephone 01392 461868.