Module QXE-4090:
The Postgraduate Dissertation

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

60 Credits or 30 ECTS Credits

Organiser: Prof Raluca Radulescu

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims: 1. to help students develop their autonomy as learners, through guidance from an experienced researcher; 2. to help students gather knowledge of the current state of scholarship in a given field of literary research; 3. to help students structure a complex argument; 4. to help students employ a mixture of primary and secondary evidence in an extended essay; 5. to help students learn to frame working hypotheses, to evaluate them in the light of counter-arguments and counter-evidence, and to revise them. In doing this, they relate abstract principles and concepts to particular literary texts; 6. to help students design a medium-scale programme of literary research.

Course content

The Dissertation module constitutes Part Two of the MA, and represents the culmination of the programme of study in the production of a substantial piece of scholarly research. Students are required to produce a 20,000-word dissertation on a literary topic, the precise nature of which will be agreed in consultation with the supervisor. Early meetings will be used to discuss ideas, resources, and approaches, later meetings to discuss final drafts of the dissertation.

Assessment Criteria


50-59% A Pass (C) candidate’s work will show many of the following qualities: • A satisfactory level of knowledge, analysis and expression. • Some familiarity with, and understanding of, relevant theoretical issues. • Generally sound organisation of argument, with some critical ability. • Accurate expression. • Competent use of quotation and references.


60-69%/B A candidate’s work reaching Merit will show many of the following qualities: • An advanced level of factual knowledge. • Significant [substantial] knowledge of relevant theories and types of analysis. • Some evidence of original thought. • The ability to organise and argue effectively, make balanced judgements, and demonstrate critical thought. • Fluent and accurate expression. • Competent use of quotation and references.


70%+/A Typically, the work of a candidate reaching Distinction will show many of the following qualities: • Thorough knowledge and understanding of relevant theories and types of analysis. • Thorough knowledge of a range of sources and the capacity to engage these critically. • Introduction and discussion of original ideas. • Relevant, well-organised and sophisticated argument. • High ratio of analysis to exposition. • Maturity, clarity and cogency of expression. • Excellent handling of quotation and references.

Learning outcomes

  1. The ability to document evidence using an appropriate system of referencing.

  2. The ability to frame hypotheses and to evaluate them against counter-arguments and counter-evidence.

  3. The ability to read primary texts critically, with a view to their content, form, and context, and to employ evidence thus acquired in support and development of an argument.

  4. An understanding of the concepts and techniques currently being applied in the chosen field.

  5. The ability to select a methodology or methodologies appropriate to the chosen subject.

  6. The ability to structure a complex argument in essay form, incorporating a range of primary and secondary evidence.

  7. The ability to communicate persuasively and unambiguously in writing.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Dissertation 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy


12 individual supervisory tutorials, one hour each, the exact timing to be agreed between tutor and student, but approximately one supervision per week for 12 weeks. Electronic communication may be substituted for meetings, if both parties find this more convenient.

Private study 588

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: