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Dissertation Component

In the dissertation, the assessors are looking for evidence of the following:

  • Formulation of a research question suitable for the degree and consistent with the time and resource available to conduct the research.
  • Critical evaluation of past work, synthesising relevant ideas into a thorough and fully referenced literature review.
  • Selection and applicaiton of appropriate research methods to suit the requirements of a specific research question.
  • Development execution of an investigation, informed by the findings of previous researchers and efficiently utilising available resources.
  • Care of presentation including that of diagrams.
  • Clarity of prose.
  • Ethically responsible research.
  • A carefully planned and monitored extended piece of research.
  • Organisation of dissertation into a logical sequence of facts and opinions.
  • Appropriate management of project risk, applying suitable mitigations.
  • Presentation of findings with clarity, appropriately evaluating the confidence that should be placed in any findings.
  • Intellectual quality of analysis, discussion of results, conclusions, and suggestions for further work.
  • Demonstration of authoritative intellectual ownership of the findings presented.

All acceptable dissertations should have appropriate referencing (i.e. non-trivial, focussed and relevant from sound sources). Although there is no specific requirements for the number of reference sources, it is expected that this would be at least in the 10’s. It is recognised that in some project areas, limited “academic” literature will be available so reliance will need to be placed on alternative sources such as commercial literature and information. In such cases clear indication of awareness of and allowances for possible biases would be expected. The term “literature” as used above should therefore be interpreted as source material appropriate for the area for study.

Dissertation Content

Dissertation Presentation

80% + (World Class)

  • The research question and derived objectives are clear and appropriate. A gap in current knowledge and understanding has been identified. Research Goals/expected outcomes are expressly articulated and appropriate for the time and resource available.
  • The work was scoped perfectly to have been carried out in a balanced manner in the time expected to be available.
  • Shows an exceptional well developed capacity for independent thought demonstrated by exhaustive critical analysis of the literature and other materials in the area of application and also demonstrating outstandingly skilful synthesis of disparate sources.
  • Shows the full and appropriate selection of and the application of tools/ techniques/ and approaches used through a rigorous research methodology.
  • Where applicable, evidence has been provided that ethical approval has been sought and granted OR ethical approval is not required for this research method, no ethical concerns in work.
  • Shows a highly developed capacity for independent thought demonstrated by exhaustive analysis of the area of application. Shows a complete conceptual understanding and an outstanding level of technical competence is demonstrated.
  • Project objectives irrefutably achieved. There is no evidence of rushing or incomplete work. Supervisor(s), where involved in the assessment, can confirm regular and sustained progress reporting in line with an established project plan.
  • Substantive consideration of the risk associated with the project execution and (where required) mitigation has been planned and undertaken to address.
  • Demonstrates exceptional creativity and originality in application of thought and is suitable for circulation wider than the place where the work was carried out (for example it is suitable for publication in a peer reviewed journal with no more than minor revisions).
  • Has conclusions which are fully justified and supported by the evidence presented, and meets the project objectives.
  • Recommendations for further work (where applicable) are practical, detailed and convincing. With clear indication that consideration has been given to additional resources required to undertake the work.
  • Illustrates (where appropriate) both the industrial and generic worth of the research carried out and the candidate’s total mastery of the subject matter.
  • Professionally produced showing exceptional written communication skills with faultless grammar and spelling.
  • Complex and new concepts are easy to follow and understand.
  • Well structured with excellent use of headings and sub-sections that show the development of a logical argument. Diagrams where used are appropriately titled and referenced in the text.

  • Diagrams where used are appropriately titled and referenced in the text.
  • The contents sheet includes all the sub-sections and relevant page numbers.
  • All pages are correctly and clearly numbered.
  • All references are properly cited and listed and references and bibliography are distinct.

70% + (Exceptional)

  • The research question and derived objectives are clear and appropriate. Expected outcomes are articulated and generally achievable with the time and resource available.
  • The work was scoped correctly to have been carried out in the time expected to be available.Shows very highly developed ability to analyse, synthesise and apply knowledge and concepts.
  • Clearly demonstrates understanding and appropriate application of relevant tools/ techniques with a clear and well-argued methodology.
  • Where applicable, evidence has been provided that ethical approval has been sought and granted OR ethical approval is not required for this research method, no ethical concerns in work
  • Shows a near complete conceptual understanding and an excellent level of technical competence.
  • Project objectives have been undeniably achieved. There is no evidence of rushing or incomplete work. Supervisor(s), where involved in the assessment, can confirm regular progress reporting in line with an established project plan.
  • Comprehensive consideration of the risk associated with the project execution and (where required) mitigation has been planned and undertaken to address.
  • There is an excellent demonstration of creativity and originality in application of thought that can be used more generally and in wider applications than the specific type of task studied (for example it is suitable for publication at a conference, with no more than minor revisions).
  • The work is very well argued; all the main issues are explored and evaluated and the reasons for the conclusions are clearly indicated. Even relatively complex arguments are easy to follow.
  • Recommendations for further work (where applicable) are practical and convincing, with some indication that resource requirements have been considered.
  • There is some indication of the use of original ideas that can be used more generally and in wider applications than the specific type of task studied.
  • Well produced, showing a high level of written communication skills with few or no grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Even relatively complex arguments are easy to follow.
  • Well structured with excellent use of headings and sub-sections that show the development of a logical argument.
  • Diagrams, contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography are presented correctly with few or no errors.
  • All references are cited and listed and references and bibliography are distinct.

 60 – 69% (Good Work)

  • The research question is clear but derivation of the objectives may not be obvious.
  • The work was scoped appropriately to have been carried out in the time expected to be available.
  • A good attempt at analysis, synthesis and application of knowledge and concepts. There is appreciation of the main issues and the ability to make critical points and substantiate them.
  • Clearly demonstrates understanding and appropriate application of relevant tools/ techniques with a good, and complete methodological argument.
  • Shows a sound and thorough grasp of the subject matter, good conceptual understanding and a good level of technical competence. There is appreciation of the main issues and the ability to make critical points and substantiate them.
  • Project objectives have been generally achieved. Little evidence of rushing or incomplete work.
  • Where applicable, evidence has been provided that ethical approval has been sought and granted OR ethical approval is not required for this research method, no ethical concerns in work.
  • Clear indication of consideration of the risk associated with the project execution and (where required) mitigation has been planned and undertaken to address.
  • The main outcomes were beyond question, although limited to the specific task studied (for example, the work could be published at a conference with some additional work). Possibly some minor errors that would not have a serious effect on the outcomes which are related to the originally established objectives.
  • Recommendations and conclusions (where applicable) are practical and could be acted on.There is evidence of a good level of creativity and originality in application of thought, aimed generally at the task attempted. The work may not consider the wider issues and implications but with some additional work this may have been evident.
  • Effective presentation, showing generally good written communication skills with good spelling and grammar.
  • The work is easy to read and understand.
  • Well thought through.
  • Overall structure and the length are appropriate.
  • Diagrams, contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography are generally well presented with only minor errors of indexing, proofreading or photocopying.
  • References used are generally correctly cited and listed.

 50 – 59% (Acceptable)

  • Research topic is outlined and justified. Objectives are stated. Anticipated outcomes may be unclear.
  • The work was scoped adequately to have been carried out in the time expected to be available.
  • There is heavy reliance on easily obtained background source materials and wide use of poorly authenticated material. This material may show little integration with the research.
  • Over reliance on statement of potential research methods with limited discussion of their application to the research topic. Better analysis techniques may be available but are not used and those that are used do not have complete justification in the methodology.
  • Where applicable, evidence has been provided that ethical approval has been sought and granted OR ethical approval is not required for this research method, no ethical concerns in work.
  • Although the work may contain some significant errors, it is technically competent. The analysis, synthesis and application of knowledge and concepts are competent but relatively routine. Project objectives have mostly been achieved. Some evidence of rushing or incomplete work.
  • Some indication of consideration of the risk associated with the project execution and (where required) that has been some planning for mitigation of that risk.
  • The general outcomes were sound and where confusion or gaps exist, they would not substantially affect the outcomes. There is a satisfactory understanding of the basic concepts. There is sensible comment on the evidence and materials used in the task.
  • Recommendations for further work (where applicable) are generally correct but are not sufficiently focussed or detailed to be useful.
  • There is evidence of a satisfactory level of creativity and originality in application of thought.Some of the conclusions drawn may be weak or unsubstantiated, but with care they could be acceptable.
  • A satisfactory overall structure that may lack balance in certain areas or fails to integrate fully all of the material.

  • Possible inclusion of irrelevant information.
  • It is generally well written with adequate spelling and grammar.
  • It is easy to appreciate the main findings in one reading. Some points may require rereading.
  • Diagrams, contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography may contain errors or show inconsistency.
  • References used are generally correctly cited and listed, though there may not be a differentiation between primary and secondary sources.
40 - 49% (Poor) May be re-assessed for Pass/Fail against PgDip 60 credit project learning outcomes at resubmission
  • The problem of study has been identified, with only basic research question(s) and/or objective(s).
  • The work was mostly scoped correctly to have been carried out in the time expected to be available, with some aspects overlooked.
  • There is a tendency towards uncritical description of the literature.
  • Literature is poorly analysed and/or unrelated to the tasks carried out.
  • There is no justified research methodology, but there is an appropriate research plan. There is limited evidence of consideration of the appropriate alternative methods and analysis that should be used. The research work is ethically conducted but (where required) supporting evidence of approval is poor or missing.
  • Shows a basic familiarity with the subject matter, but with some serious gaps and misconceptions. A basic level of technical competence with some errors.
  • Project objectives partially met. There is evidence of rushing or incomplete work.
  • Minimal indication of consideration of the risk associated with the project execution. No indication of planning for mitigation of risk.
  • Concepts and theory are understood but there is only a modest attempt to utilise them. There is little discussion of the work, or its applications. Conclusions drawn from the work are limited and show little added value from the work carried out.
  • Recommendations for further work (where appropriate) are either missing or unsubstantiated.
  • There is some evidence of a basic level of creativity and originality in application of thought.
  • Lacking in logical structure, making it difficult to read. Ideas are poorly expressed, often with mistakes.

  • Less than optimal presentation, there are errors in grammar and/or spelling.

  • Diagrams, contents sheet, etc. inhibit the easy reading of the document.
  • Page numbering, references and bibliography may be poorly presented or some missing.
  • Gaps in references cited and listed. Insufficient differentiation between primary and secondary sources.
30 - 39 (Very Poor) Resubmission of first attempt normally allowed
  • Does not demonstrate understanding of the issues. Research question is absent or poorly expressed; objectives lacking or badly formulated.
  • The work was scoped incorrectly to have been carried out in the time expected to be available. Relevance to the degree in question may be in doubt, despite advice to that effect having been provided by supervisor.
  • Background work stated but not analysed and not applied to the research task. The information/data used may have limited relevance. Showing major gaps in knowledge of the subject matter and many areas of misunderstanding and confusion.
  • The research plan is flawed and inappropriate for the research carried out.
  • Ethical approval required, but has not been sought/granted OR research has been undertaken unethically.
  • Little or no evidence that concepts and theory have been understood. Limited or no attempt at analysis.
  • Project objectives partially met. Work is incomplete.Potential risk has not been considered or addressed.
  • There is a lack of critical reasoning and often the project objectives, (where articulated), have been ignored or badly misunderstood. What objectives there are have been ignored or badly misunderstood.
  • Recommendations for further work (where applicable) are irrelevant or missing.
  • There is some evidence of a limited level of creativity and originality in application of thought. There is an inability to apply any knowledge generated.
  • Limited or muddled presentation and structuring of arguments.
  • The level of expression is inadequate, often being unclear or confused.
  • The document may need to be read a number of times before the meaning is fully understood.
  • Poor grammar and/or spelling.
  • Diagrams, contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography poorly presented or missing.
  • Inconsistent and/or incomplete recording of references used.
20 - 29 (Extremely Poor) Resubmission of first attempt MAY be allowed, usually for consideration for PgDip only
  • No research question, research objective(s) unclear, confused or missing.
  • Insufficient consideration was given to the scope of the work to allow it to be carried out in the time expected to be available. Relevance to the degree in question may be in doubt despite advice to that effect having been provided by supervisor.
  • Inadequate review of previous work, with little relation to any project objectives there might be. Minimal analysis, synthesis and application of knowledge.
  • The research plan is flawed, inappropriate or missing. Does not demonstrate the ability to appropriately apply tools/techniques/ and methodologies. There is no comment on the background materials used.
  • Ethical approval required, but has not been sought/granted OR research has been undertaken unethically.
  • Lack of integration with the objectives (if present) and contains some significant errors or omissions.
  • Indication of limited achievement of project objectives. Work is incomplete.
  • Potential risk has not been considered or addressed.
  • There is no evidence of any level of creativity and originality in application of thought. Lack of integration between area of study and previous work, discussion and conclusions. Contains some significant errors or omissions.
  • No recommendations for further work.
  • No comment on the candidate’s generated output, culminating in irrelevant or missing conclusions.
  • A poorly structured document that lacks balance and fails to integrate fully all of the material.
  • Inclusion of irrelevant information.
  • May need to be read several times to appreciate the author’s intentions/meaning.

  • Poorly written with poor spelling and grammar.
  • Diagrams, to the extent that it may mislead the understanding of the report.
  • Contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography may contain errors and/or show inconsistency.
  • Inconsistent and/or incomplete recording of references used.
< 20 (Trivial) Resubmission is unlikely to be permitted
  • Inadequate or no evidence of project objectives.
  • Inadequate – or no – consideration given to the scope of the work and the time/resources available. Relevance to the degree in question may be in doubt despite advice to that effect having been provided by supervisor.
  • Trivial literature review not integrated with project objectives and showing little/no analysis. Shows serious gaps in knowledge of the subject matter and many areas of confusion.
  • Does not demonstrate understanding of the issues and information/data used may be irrelevant.
  • Ethical approval required, but has not been sought/granted OR research has been undertaken unethically.
  • May contain statements about previous work but there is no added value.
  • Insufficient time has been devoted to work, hence it is incomplete.
  • Potential risk has not been considered or addressed.
  • No attempt at analysis and no application of knowledge. There is a lack of critical appreciation evidence of work done to achieve objectives (if presented).
  • No Recommendations for further work.
  • Sparse or no evidence for technical competence or individual contribution.
  • Unstructured document and arguments.
  • Poor grammar and/or spelling which prevents understanding.
  • Diagrams, contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography poorly presented or missing.
  • Overall not a document that the university /company would wish to have its name on.
  • Inconsistent and/or incomplete recording of references used.