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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

COMM5600M Dissertation and Research Methods

60 creditsClass Size: 300

Module manager: Dr Lee Broughton

Taught: 1 Oct to 30 Sep (12mth) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is mutually exclusive with

COMM5800MFinal Independent Project

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module provides students with the academic competencies necessary to study successfully at postgraduate level, and particularly for conducting independent research and producing a good dissertation. Students are offered the opportunity to gain practical skills associated with empirical research design and conduct, which contributes to their transferable skills set and employability. The dissertation constitutes 60 module credits and forms one third of the programme of study; therefore, a good dissertation is a key component towards attainment of a good Master’s degree. The module runs over two Semesters. The first semester is taught by 1.5 hour lectures addressing the design, structure and process of writing a dissertation, the theory of research design and research ethics and good practice, and introduces a select range of qualitative and quantitative research methods within the field of media and communications studies. The second semester presents a concluding 1.5 hour lecture on the dissertation format and design in preparation for the submission of a 2500 word Research Proposal. Additional learning and teaching support is provided in Semester 2 in optional drop-in workshops that focus on academic literacy and language usage with Dr Simon Webster. Students are supported by group and 1:1 supervision with an academic supervisor at monthly intervals in Semester 2 until the end of July in the summer period. Students are expected to complete the writing-up process in August for submission of the dissertation at a date between 1st – 4th September.


This module provides students with the theoretical and methodological knowledge that enables them to carry out an independent piece of research in the field of media and communication Studies. The main objective of this module is the preparation of the dissertation (12,000 –12,500 words).The module introduces the dissertation process, the key underlying principles of research projects and major methodological approaches that guide research in the field of media and communication to help students develop a coherent research design for their own dissertation. In addition, it makes students familiar with basic research techniques and approaches, the understanding and application of which are not only essential for an academic career, but also contribute to the acquisition of key transferable skills for professional careers in communications-related fields.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to: 1. understand the dissertation process 2. comprehend the basic philosophical and theoretical issues in communication and media research; 3. understand qualitative and quantitative approaches to research and the main research methods in media and communication studies, the social sciences and humanities; 4. critically evaluate competing approaches to empirical enquiry including the strengths and weaknesses of theoretical dissertations, and quantitative and qualitative research methods; 5. to recognise the strengths and limitations of employing particular approaches and methods for a specific research project and the ethical implications of their chosen research methods; 6. develop a coherent research design including the formulation of research questions, aims and objectives, hypotheses, choosing appropriate research instruments, data collection and interpreting empirical evidence


1. CONTEXT: Introduction to the dissertation
2. CONTEXT: Qualitative and quantitative approaches
3. TEXTS: Visual Analysis: A range of visual methods
4. TEXTS: Film and television analysis
5. TEXTS: Archive and historical research
6. TEXTS: Discourse and rhetorical analysis
7. TEXTS: Content Analysis
8. PEOPLE: Qualitative interviewing methods and focus groups
9. PEOPLE: Ethnography and online research
10. PEOPLE: The survey method
11. PEOPLE AND TEXTS: Ethics and the MA Dissertation
12. REVIEW: the Research Proposal and Ethics Form

Seminars and teaching support: There are 3 Q & A seminar sessions in Semester 1 which are designed to be interactive sessions allowing students to discuss what their current research interests are, and how they want to develop their research skills. The seminars focus on developing a viable research topic. Academic Skills: A Learning Advisor facilitates 3 interactive workshops on Academic Good Practice, Literature Searching, and Writing the Literature Review in Semester 1. The workshops are designed to support students’ research skills and good practice in the research process. Workshops: This module is a large international cohort and the specific needs of international students are supported by optional academic literacy and language use workshops in Semester 2 by Dr Simon Webster. Module Tutors offer optional 1:1 student consultation on the design of the research question and methodology in office hours in Semester 1 to support the development of the Research Proposal and Ethics Form to be submitted in Semester 2 (formative assessment). Dr Simon Webster offers optional 1:1 language use and academic literacy consultations to international students in Semesters 1 and 2. The module leader offers office hours in Semesters 1 and 2.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Supervision Meetings80.504.00
Private study hours562.50
Total Contact hours37.50
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)600.00

Private study

12 x 5 hours preparation for lecture classes: 60 hours; (optional) Interactive online audio-recorded ‘Writing your dissertation’ workshop: 5 hours Preparation of dissertation proposal: 25 hours; Total Field work and preparation of the dissertation: 460 hours. Total hours of private study and independent learning: 460

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students submit a 2500 word Research Proposal to Turnitin and an Ethics approval form which is approved and signed by their supervisor. Students must pass the Ethics phase in order to progress to fieldwork / data collection. Students are advised to submit written drafts of the dissertation to their supervisor for formative feedback throughout the dissertation process. Last drafts are submitted in early July for final feedback. Students will have the opportunity to discuss their dissertation progress with the module leader during office hours and by appointment. Teaching Assistant support is provided in Semester 1 in designated office hours to support students’ development of the research question and choice of methods.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay or Dissertation1 x 12,000-12,500 word dissertation to be submitted at the end of the academic year100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students must pass the Ethics Form phase in order to progress to fieldwork/data collection. The student must pass the dissertation component in order to pass the module. If a re-sit is necessary, students should refer to the original markers’ feedback to improve the dissertation, unless advised otherwise.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 31/01/2023


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