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Dissertation (PO366)

Applicable to the degrees of Politics, Politics and International Studies, Politics with French. Final year History and Politics students may elect to take a PAIS option by dissertation but cannot also take a Special Subject in History by assessment – they must sit an examination for the latter. Econ/PAIS students may be able to take the dissertation option depending on their overall balance of module choice. If PPE students choose to take a dissertation in PAIS, they may not take a dissertation in any of the other two disciplines.

The idea of the dissertation option is to provide a structured opportunity for independent learning. It is a particularly useful choice for students thinking of going on to graduate work, but it is also relevant for career destinations requiring skills in gathering and synthesising material – in effect, the vast majority of career destinations of politics and international studies graduates.

The choice of a dissertation subject is based on one of the following three options:

  1. Replacing a taught module in the final year. For example, rather than take the taught modules on the Middle East Regional Relations, you can choose instead to write a dissertation on an issue related to the module. Please note that you cannot replace Issues in Political Theory with a dissertation. You may not write a dissertation on a topic that you are also taking a taught module on (ie, you cannot take the taught module on Middle East Regional Relations and also write a dissertation on a related topic). Instead you will ‘drop’ the taught module and replace it with the dissertation. If you are unsure about whether there is too much overlap between a proposed dissertation topic and a taught module, please check with the Module Coordinator.
  2. Building on a module that you studied in your second year. For example, you might have taken Political Theory from Hobbes in your second year, and now want to write a dissertation on one of the theorists you have studied. In this case you will choose three taught modules and your fourth option will be the dissertation.
  3. Following an interest that is not covered in any of the taught modules. Please note that we will only allow you to do this if we have a supervisor with expertise to supervise your dissertation. In this case you will choose three taught modules and your fourth option will be the dissertation.

Before you register on e:MR to do the dissertation module, it is strongly recommended that you discuss your project with an appropriate supervisor in the department. At this stage, you only need to identify a broad area for your dissertation (for example, US foreign policy), and you have until the end of week 5 of the first term of your final year to agree a specific and binding title with your supervisor.

Once the commitment to a dissertation has been made, it will not be possible to revert to other methods of assessment. The dissertation route is not an easy one, but it is challenging and gives you an opportunity for 1:1 work with a member of staff.