Dissertation (15,000 words)

Module code: EN7227

Module co-ordinator: Dr Orietta Da Rold

The 60-credit dissertation is 15,000 words long. If you decide to take this dissertation, you will also take EN7224 Cities of Words in Semester 2.

Proposals for the dissertation are presented at a special seminar after the end of Semester 2. All full-time students present dissertation proposals at this seminar. First-year part-time students are strongly encouraged to present proposals, even if they are still very provisional, to assist them in preparing for the dissertation they will be writing the following academic year. Second-year part-time students may also find it useful to participate, although they will already have been allocated supervisors and will have been working on their dissertations for several months.

A week before the formal presentation session, students meet together without staff present. This meeting is informal but mandatory, and its purpose is to help students assess together the scope and nature of their chosen topics, as well as to begin planning the research necessary to complete their dissertation.

The second session is more formal, although not assessed. At this meeting, students present their proposals to members of the MA staff, who will offer new perspectives on specific projects as well as advice on more general issues.

Dissertation proposal

Students are required to submit a written proposal on the Dissertation Proposal form. The proposal must include a title, a brief outline of the subject and focus of the project (no more than 200 words), an account of its aims and methods (no more than 400 words), and a short bibliography featuring key primary and secondary sources.

The key questions the proposal must address are: what, why, and how?

  • What is the topic? What questions will you be asking about this topic as you undertake research? (You may, if you wish, include a list of research questions in your proposal.)
  • Why are you writing it? That is, why is this topic interesting and significant? What is the rationale? How will your work challenge or extend existing scholarship?
  • How are you going to do it? Which texts will you use? How will it be structured? What is your methodology and/or theoretical framework?

Dissertation presentation

The presentation should:

  • Not be any longer than five minutes
  • Give a general outline of the topic and address two or three specific issues relating to it
  • Comment on the appeal and potential of the project
  • Include a list of key research questions
  • Indicate methodology and, where appropriate, relevant theoretical frameworks
  • Consider how the material in the dissertation might be best organised
  • Identify gaps in knowledge and outline areas that require development
  • Comment on any problems you think you may encounter during the process
  • Be of a professional standard (including, for instance, the use of a handout and PowerPoint as appropriate)
  • Demonstrate that you have developed good presentation skills

This is an independent project but at every stage, from conception through composition and revision to final submission, academic staff are available to offer support and feedback.


A dissertation supervisor will be allocated to you after your proposal is submitted, but you're encouraged to seek the advice of academic staff in the early stages of your project.

With the help of the supervisor's advice and guidance, students plan, develop, revise, and improve their work through a series of drafts. You will be provided with up to five hours of one-to-one supervision and must meet with your supervisor at least three times while you are writing the dissertation (generally between May and September).