Compulsory Dissertation

Module code: EN3010
Module co-ordinator: Dr Julian North

For your dissertation you will undertake an extended piece of independent research under the one-to-one supervision of a member of staff (up to three hours of individual supervision throughout the semester). Your supervisor will provide guidance on the nature and scope of the project, information about resources and methodologies, and feedback on both your written work and your presentation.

Your topic should be well-defined. It may be a theoretical or a language-based topic. It may be a study of a well-defined group of primary texts (novels, poems, plays) or an in-depth study of one primary text. There is no stipulation as to the number of texts (primary or secondary) you must use, but credit will be given for combining breadth of relevant reading with depth of analysis. You should avoid sweeping 'survey' topics (for example, 'the representation of love in Renaissance literature') as the dissertation is only 5,000 words.

If you want to write on a canonical author and popular theme, try to focus your proposal on a specific issue or problem. For example, if you want to write on Shakespeare, narrow your focus to one subject and one or perhaps two plays (for example, 'the treatment of time in The Tempest'). If you want to write on contemporary women's writing, select one subject and one genre (for example, the image of the Medusa in contemporary women’s poetry). Above all, choose a topic that you find challenging and engaging.

Previous dissertation topics have included:

  • A study of textual problems in King Lear
  • Pregnancy in Anglo-Saxon England
  • Metaphor and metonymy in Joyce’s Ulysses
  • Swift, satire and the body
  • Keats and Chaucer
  • Australian soap operas and English intonation
  • A postcolonial approach to the novels of Chinua Achebe

You will also give a three-minute PowerPoint presentation in front of an audience of two dissertation supervisors (one of whom will be your own) and other students completing dissertations. You will be assessed on your ability to summarise your research topic and communicate it effectively (and interestingly!) to the audience using PowerPoint. There will be no questions afterwards and a handout is not required.


  • 4 one-hour lectures
  • 4 hours of workshops
  • 3 hours of project supervision
  • 139 hours of guided independent study


  • Dissertation, 5,000 words (90%)
  • PowerPoint presentation (10%)

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