The MA Dissertation offers students the chance to undertake and complete a sustained research project (approximately 16,000 words or 20,000 words depending on the MA route you are taking) on a topic of special interest. If you wish to write a dissertation, you should identify the broad area of interest before you arrive at Warwick. Students who want to write a dissertation need to indicate their wish on the MAWL Provisional Module Selection Form and upload a short 500 word proposal of their proposed project, together with a bibliography. Note that the topic of the dissertation does not have to be directly related to any of the taught modules. Students intending to apply for funding for doctoral work are strongly advised to apply to write a dissertation.
Term 1: Getting support for your proposal
Any student registered for the MA may apply to write a dissertation. But only projects deemed viable will be allowed to proceed, so it’s important to get the proposal right. To be accepted, a proposal should meet the following criteria:
• is intellectually viable
• is achievable within the stipulated time and word limits
• is feasible given the resources
• falls within the expertise of members of academic staff
Please note that your proposal will be considered in the light of the topic and availability of a potential supervisor. The successful candidates will be notified by the end of Week 1. They will then have to attend a compulsory dissertation training workshop in Week 2. All part-time students wanting to write a dissertation must get their proposal approved and attend the dissertation workshop in their first year to avoid doing extra modules (in case their proposal is rejected) in T2 of their final year. Final decisions on approved dissertations will be notified by the end of Week 7. Students whose dissertation proposal has not been approved should continue with their chosen option modules. For those students whose dissertation is approved, they will be required to ‘drop’ a Term 2 option module.
Note that students taking three modules plus the dissertation will normally take two modules in term 1 and one module in term 2. They will write one 6,000 word essay for the Core Module EN942 and two 8,000 word essays for the other modules.
Students taking four modules plus the dissertation normally will take two modules in each term. They will write one 6,000 word essay for the Core Module EN942 plus three 6,000 word essays for the other modules.
You are strongly discouraged from taking more than two modules in one term (aside from the Core Module EN942).
Term 2: Starting research
Students whose proposals are accepted are strongly advised to begin work on their dissertation research in term 2. It can take time to work out exactly how to focus the work and decide on what you need to look at and read, so it’s best to start early.
In term 3 you must submit a Dissertation Progress Report, which must include the following:
- MA Dissertation Progress Report form
- title and chapter breakdown
- an abstract of 1000 words
- a bibliography
The Dissertation Progress Report must be submitted to the Postgraduate Programmes Officer by the end of Week 2 of Term 3. The progress reports will be reviewed by the MAWL Convenor. If there are concerns about progress, the MAWL Convenor will contact you.
Thereafter, you should see your supervisor on a basis agreed between the two of you. Your supervisor will normally require you to submit written work regularly and will recommend reading as well as assisting you in structuring your project.
Term 3: Researching and writing
Supervision for the MA dissertation takes place during term 3. While you will also be working on essays due during this term, it’s important to keep working regularly on your dissertation, and especially to make the most of your contact with your supervisor. Because of staff research commitments, direct dissertation supervision finishes in week 11 of Term 3. By this time you should have completed much of your research, finalized your structure and written drafts of the majority of chapters. The writing up period is undertaken during the summer with final submission on 1 September.