Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

COMM5600M Dissertation and Research Methods

60 creditsClass Size: 300

Module manager: Lee Broughton

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

Year running 2023/24

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 completion of the Ethical Review Form. 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 31st August – 3rd 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, in order 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:

understand the dissertation process

comprehend the basic philosophical and theoretical issues in communication and media research;

understand qualitative and quantitative approaches to research and the main research methods in media and communication studies, the social sciences and humanities;

critically evaluate competing approaches to empirical enquiry including the strengths and weaknesses of theoretical dissertations, and quantitative and qualitative research methods;

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;

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



CONTEXT: Introduction to the dissertation

CONTEXT: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches

TEXTS: Visual Analysis: A range of visual methods

TEXTS: Film and Television Analysis

TEXTS: Historical Analysis and Archive Research

TEXTS: Discourse and Rhetorical Analysis

TEXTS: Content Analysis

PEOPLE: Ethnography and Online Research

PEOPLE: Qualitative Interviewing and Focus Groups

PEOPLE: The Survey Method

PEOPLE AND TEXTS: Ethics and the MA Dissertation

GOOD PRACTICE: The Ethical Review Form

Seminars: Three seminars run in teaching weeks 3, 5 and 8. They are designed to be interactive sessions allowing students to discuss what their current research interests are, and how they want to develop their skills as a researcher. The seminars focus on developing a viable research topic.

Academic Skills Workshops: Learning Advisor Michelle Schneider facilitates 3 interactive workshops on Literature Searching, Writing the Literature Review and Integrating Evidence in Semester 1, Weeks 4 and 6 and in Semester 2, Week 14. The workshops are designed to support students’ research skills and good study practice in the research process.


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 Weeks 14-16 by Dr Simon Webster.

Three audio-recorded interactive online workshops on ‘Writing the Dissertation’ are located in Minerva to specifically support the lectures in Weeks 1-3 and Week 14, and as a resource throughout the dissertation process.

1:1 Dissertation consultations: The module leader offers support to students throughout the academic year in office hours and by appointment.

A TA and / or the module leader offers optional 1:1 student consultation on the design of the research question and methodology in office hours in Weeks 6, 7, 8 and 9 to support the development of topic ideas.

Dr Simon Webster offers optional 1:1 language use and academic literacy consultations to international students in Semester 1 and 2.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours569.50
Total Contact hours30.50
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 Research Proposal and Supervisor Request Form in Week 11 of Semester 2. The module leader allocates students to an appropriate supervisor based on the content of the Form. The student’s proposal is forwarded to their allocated supervisor for formative oral or written feedback in initial supervisions. Students submit an Ethical Review Form in April, Semester 2 which requires approval from the supervisor. Students submit a draft of the Literature Review (3000 words) in early February, Semester 2 and a draft of the Methodology (1000 words) in March, Semester 2 for formative feedback from their supervisor. Students have the option for formative feedback on a draft of 1000 words of the Discussion / Analysis chapter to be submitted by 1st July prior to final supervisions in July. The module leader provides office hours across 12 weeks of teaching, providing students with opportunities to discuss module content and the development of the research question and choice of methods. TA and / or module leader support is provided in weeks 7, 8 and 9 in dedicated Topic Consultations 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: 20/10/2023 14:26:34


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019