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Writing a Dissertation  

Dissertations Coordinator: Prof Tim Lockley

Office: Humanities Building H332


A dissertation is compulsory for all History single honours students and an option for all joint degree students. The dissertation is weighted at 30 CATS and must be based either on a final year module that the student is enrolled on, or a module taken in year 2. The dissertation length is up to 9,000 words, not including footnotes or bibliography. For further details on this, please see guidance on how to research and write your dissertation . Please also download and read the Dissertation Handbook AND follow the style guide. Here is additional style guide advice courtesy of Prof Roberta Bivins

This module will allow students to undertake a substantive piece of historical research and produce an article-length essay at the end of it. It gives students the opportunity to work in a way similar to an academic historian: identifying a suitable research topic; mastering the relevant historiography; immersing themselves in a wide variety of primary sources, where appropriate; and being able to sustain a coherent and logical argument. As a final year module it will encourage students to put the training received in their earlier years of study to practical use.

The dissertation must be a new piece of work - you should not have published it previously in whole or in part in any other outlet, which includes web-publications.

During the first term, there will be 4 one-hour talks and sessions held at 1pm on Tuesday afternoons in the Woods-Scawen Room (Arts Centre). You are strongly advised to attend. They are as follows, and are recorded on moodle/lecture capture: [NB if prompted for a password use: historydissertation]

  • Tuesday, 2 October 2018: 1-2pm Introduction [powerpoint here] [lecture capture is audio only, starts at 3m30s, in the audio file see link above]
  • Tuesday, 9 October 2018: 1-2pm Accessing primary sources and archives [powerpoint here]
  • Tuesday, 16 October 2018: 1-2pm Oral History. [powerpoint here] (Here is the UG research ethics review form)
  • Tuesday, 23 October 2018: 1-2pm Writing it up – the process of organising material and putting it into a coherent and well-argued whole – Prof Susan Carruthers [powerpoint here]

Each student will receive regular personal guidance from a supervisor throughout the dissertation process, which will include bibliographical advice and comments on one-page dissertation outlines. It is highly recommended that you meet in person with your supervisor and discuss your dissertation topic ideas in the first few weeks of term 1. Plan to meet with her/him as needed throughout the year; you will be sending your supervisor bibliographies and dissertation abstracts for comments and suggestions. In addition, the Dissertations Coordinator will be available for general guidance and queries. As an exception, students on the Renaissance stream of single honours History who spend their first term of their final year in Venice will have one of the Venice Tutors designated as their Dissertations Coordinator. Please ensure that you read the guidance on how to research and write your dissertation and the Dissertation Handbook before you start.

The schedule for determining and communicating your dissertation topic and the module upon which it is based is as follows:

  1. All students, including Renaissance Stream students, must complete a online statement by the end of week 2 of term 1, which will include:
    • (a) the History module they intend to link their dissertation to
    • (b) their intended dissertation topic [broadly defined]
  2. Students must also correctly record the module code for the dissertation on eMR by the end of week 4 term 1. Please check the list of Dissertation module codes to ensure that the right module code is used.
  3. Dissertations are to be submitted online to Tabula by 12noon on the Wednesday week 2 of the Summer term (term three). They should be anonymised, with only the student number on the title page. No hard copy is needed.
  4. You should remember that late submission will be penalised. The rule is as follows: 'Where an extension has not been granted, or where an extension request did not reach the Director of Undergraduate Studies before the deadline for the assessed work, such assessed essays handed in late will be subject to a penalty of 5 percentage marks per working day'.
  5. Students are reminded that it is THEIR responsibility to check that e-MR (the Unviersity module registration system) provides an accurate reflection of the modules they are taking. Please ensure you have checked the following BEFORE the system finally closes in the Spring term.
  • That you are registered for the CORRECT modules.
  • That you have registered for the CORRECT methods of assessment for each of the modules you are taking. (The correct assessment methods are 'B' for those students who ARE linking the dissertation to a module or 'C' where you are NOT linking the dissertation to the module).
  • That you are registered for the CORRECT dissertation module.
  • If choosing a second year module module, you must register one of your final year modules as 100% exam. No student should be doing a dissertation based in a third-year option and two long essays.

It is against University regulations to make any changes to registrations after week 5 of the Spring term, neither Academic Staff or Support Staff are able to approve such requests.

It should be noted that the Department of History does not provide funding for final-year dissertation research. Departmental funding is limited, and if only a few students were given grants, the History Department would be open to the charge that it is favoring some over and above others. The ruling has thus been made on the basis of equity.