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Module QXL-3341:

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

40 Credits or 20 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Christopher Shank

Overall aims and purpose

The 7000 word (+/- 10%) dissertation allows a student to identify a research question, and develop a significant piece of individual research in order to address the question. Each student is assigned a supervisor, a member of staff who has research interests most closely connected to that topic. The supervisor will liaise with the student to enhance their ability to focus the scope, methodology and content of the dissertation, and give advice throughout the duration of this research. The dissertation will be a substantial piece of written work, enabling students to develop an independent research project.

• Allow students to complete a major piece of independent learning and research in extended form.
• Reinforces key skills of research, critical analysis and academic writing.
• Require students to formulate a practical research project of their own; identify and utilise a relevant body of evidence; and produce a sustained argument in written form.

Course content

Topics vary depending on individual students choices and degree programme. They relate to a wide array of issues in linguistics but must be relevant to the degree programme that the student is registered on. Topics will include, but not be confined to, research in English Language Studies, Cognitive Linguistics, Bilingualism, Language Acquisition, Language Development, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Most topics will involve the collection and analysis of data, but the possibility of utilising exiting data or doing an extended literature review is not precluded if relevant to the topic and agreed with the supervisor. The School makes every effort to supervise the topic of the students' choice, however, on the rare occasions that the School does not have the capacity to supervise a topic, students will be advised to choose a new topic.

However, classes will include:
• How to formulate a research question.
• Producing a research proposal.
• Research methodologies.
• Statistics.

Only students wishing to collect data involving children or vulnerable adults will need a DBS check (see below).

Assessment Criteria


Student has achieved a better-than-average standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all LOs


Student has achieved a thorough standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all LOs; or student has demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement in one or more LOs


Student has achieved the minimum acceptable standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all the LOs

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will be able to evidence critical reading that reflects on a number of pieces of written research in an appropriate and thorough manner.

  2. Students will be able to produce a sustained argument in extended written form.

  3. Students will be able to formulate a research proposal that will lead to a practical research project of significant scope of their own.

  4. Students will be able to identify and utilise a relevant body of evidence.

  5. Students will be able to engage in a sustained piece of individual, academic research on a chosen topic.

  6. Students will be able to evidence an understanding of ethical constraints on research collection and reports.

  7. Students will be able to evidence a consideration of varying methodological approaches and to adopt the necessary approaches suitable to the topic being researched

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT Developing the research question.

Prepare up to 3 research questions for different topics (or 3 on one topic if you prefer) that are of interest to you and could be addressed in a dissertation. You will get brief feedback by email within 7 days. Your questions can be in three different subject areas or in one subject area, that is up to you, your interests and how far along in the RQ formulation process you are. Please indicate the 1) RESEARCH AREA, 2) THE TOPIC and the 3) RESEARCH QUESTION for all 3 proposed RQs

Written assignment, including essay Workshop Exercises

Take-home assignment with questions about topics addressed in the workshops. You need to complete the take-home assignment for two of the workshops. Assignments are handed out at the end of a workshop or uploaded to Blackboard. Assesses learning outcomes 2), 3) and 6).

REPORT Review of outstanding proposal

Review of an outstanding dissertation proposal (250 words +/-). This small assessment task requires you to read and review one of the outstanding dissertation proposals submitted by past students in our School. All of these proposals received either an A, A+ or A* mark. The proposals will be located under the Assessment Tasks tab in a folder labelled ‘Outstanding Proposals’ Your review will be guided by a series of questions to be handed out. Assesses learning outcomes 1) through 5) and 7).

Written assignment, including essay Dissertation Proposal

Dissertation proposal PART II (2,000 words +/-10%, excluding references). This includes your motivation for the topic, a preliminary literature review, the research questions, your choice of methodology, and an ethics statement. The explanation of methodology should include possible alternative methodologies as far as possible.

DISSERTATION Dissertation 65
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT Review of an Excellent Dissertation

This small formative assessment task FA1 requires you to read and review one of the outstanding dissertations (each received either an A, A+ or A* mark) submitted by past students in our subject. The dissertations are located on Blackboard under the Assessments Tab > Outstanding Dissertations.

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT Reading to find the research gap

The overall goal of this exercise is to get you to reflect on a possible dissertation topic, an area or subject that interests you – one way to tackle this and provide a model on what this looks like is to explore how authors in peer reviewed publications / journal articles have proposed RQ and gaps this as reported via their abstracts.

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT Dissertation proposal PART I.

This is the final formative assessment of the semester. The goal for all of these incremental formative assessments has been to get you to think about your RQ(s), then the methods and then how you will go about answering your RQ(s). Anything and everything developed for this assessment exercise can be utilized in your Dissertation proposal.

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT Settling on a research question (RQ)

Option 1: Pick one of your three research questions from the FA3 assessment and propose it as the RQ for your dissertation proposal.
Option 2: Staff proposed research projects and or topics. A number of staff are offering offer topics that you can work on for your dissertation. If you are interested in a staff project please contact the member of staff and cc me into the email.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Individual Project

Students will be preparing, researching and writing their dissertation through private study.


Two out of five 2 hour workshops on research methodologies in semester 1 (Students may attend all workshops, but must attend at least 2).

Two 2 hour workshops on analysing data and producing a dissertation in semester 2.


Whilst preparing, researching and writing the dissertation students will have eight 30 minute one-on-one supervisory meetings with a supervisor, 2 in semester 1 and 6 in semester 2.


Six 2 hour lectures in semester 1 on basics of research and producing a proposal.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Understanding of the nature of bi/multilingualism - students will demonstrate familiarity with phenomena and findings relating to the nature of bilingual and multilingual individuals and communities.
  • Writing & scholarly conventions - students will be able to present data, argumentation, findings and references in written form in keeping with the conventions current in language science and English language studies.
  • Analysis & interpretation skills - students will be able to analyse, interpret data accurately, and draw appropriate conclusions based on the application of appropriate analytic and theoretical frameworks available in linguistics and English language studies.
  • Research skills - students will be able undertake independent research, involving formulating a research question, identifying and deploying appropriate linguistic methodology (theoretical or empirical) and data collection techniques (theoretical, experimental or field-based), and the selection and application of appropriate theoretical frameworks in order to adequately address the research question.
  • Problem solving - students will be able to evidence problem-solving skills in formulating problems (factual, empirical, theoretical) in precise terms, identifying key issues, and developing the confidence to address challenging problems using a variety of different approaches
  • Evaluation & reflection - students will be able to critically evaluate a particular position, viewpoint or argument in relation to a specific area of investigation. They will be able to reflect on the efficacy of a particular approach, practice or performance, and moderate these as a consequence in order to achieve specific goals.
  • Knowledge of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) theory and practice - students will demonstrate familiarity with core terms, issues, principles, aspects and best practices related to the teaching of English as a foreign language.
  • Personal organisation - students will develop the ability to undertake self-directed study and learning with appropriate time-management
  • Independent investigation - students will develop the ability to plan, design and execute a significant piece of research or inquiry, either independently or as a member of a team in order to discover a specific solution to an outstanding issue or question through searching out and synthesizing written, visual and oral information. Students will also develop skills of independent investigation, including interacting with peers and subjects/informants.
  • Fluency, confidence and proficiency in the use of English -students will demonstrate their ability and proficiency to use and understand and instruct others in English in a range of academic and classroom contexts.
  • Awareness of and appreciation for linguistic and cultural differences - students will develop an awareness of and an appreciation for the range and nature of linguistic and cultural diversity
  • Knowledge of the nature of language origins, change and use - students will demonstrate familiarity with phenomena and findings relating to the nature of language origins, the way language changes, and factors involved in and affecting language use.
  • Information technology - students will develop the ability to use computing and IT skills in order to find, store, interpret and present information, to produce a range of electronic documents and use software confidently
  • Proficiency in the use of English in reading, writing, speaking and/or listening - students will demonstrate proficiency in their ability to use and understand English in a range of different contexts and via different media.
  • Understanding of the nature and organization of language - students will demonstrate familiarity with observations and findings relating to various aspects of linguistic phenomena and organization.
  • Understanding the nature of commonalities and differences across languages - students will demonstrate familiarity with phenomena and findings relating to universals and diversity exhibited by and across languages.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: