Soton English Dissertation

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To prepare you to undertake and submit a substantial piece of independent work. Preparation of a dissertation requires you to: • Identify a suitable topic for study; • Design and undertake an appropriate investigation strategy; • Identify and access useful sources of information; • Plan and manage an appropriate schedule of work; • Liaise with your supervisor; • Write a well presented dissertation. Generally, you are encouraged to undertake an applied dissertation based on a particular organisation context or related to a generic management issue. Students are particularly encouraged to write a dissertation that is of direct interest to a current or future employer. Dissertations can take a number of forms, for example: • A critical review of an area of literature; • Theoretical development of a technique or issues; • Empirical work involving quantitative analysis of collected data; • A survey of business practice in a particular context; • A case-study of a particular firm or industry; • Study of a particular problem in an organisation or industry. You need to discuss what is appropriate with your supervisor.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Scoping a study in your subject area, stating clear objectives for your study and ensure that the dissertation addresses these objectives.
  • Demonstrating in-depth knowledge of your chosen subject and related conceptual literature, making appropriate reference to relevant sources of literature.
  • Using concepts/techniques/frameworks from one or more of your taught modules.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Present a clear, logical, and coherent line of argument throughout your dissertation.
  • Demonstrate the ability to synthesise ideas and research findings.
  • Ensure that your own ideas and analysis are a prominent part of your dissertation.
  • Provide in depth, critical reflection in your analysis and discussion of results.
  • Evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline.
  • Evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.
  • Demonstrate the ability to formulate and test new ideas from a variety of approaches and justify the foundation of those ideas.
  • Demonstrate the ability to test ideas including the application of models as appropriate, using a variety of research designs, methodologies, measurements and techniques of analysis.
  • Demonstrate the ability to present ideas and research findings in a well-structured and convincing way, as oral presentations or written papers.
  • Demonstrate the ability to plan, execute and report a significant piece of research or creative work with at least some element of originality.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate your ability to work independently, carry out and evaluate a research project relevant to a business context.
  • Demonstrate the ability to interpret, conceptualise and critically evaluate the literature, and to relate it to practice as appropriate.
  • Demonstrate independent judgement and critical self-awareness.
  • Identify, set up and use a variety of learning strategies such as interactive and group work.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, at, or informed by, the forefront of your academic discipline or field of study.


Details of supervision processes, deadlines and handing-in processes will be clarified in the PG Dissertation Handbook supplied in February. A supervisor will be appointed in April; you are entitled to 6 hours of supervision which you must organise and complete by the 31 July when supervision ends. The dissertation must be handed in mid-September. In brief the process is described below; during the period April – September you will be required to: • Identify a suitable topic for study; • Design and undertake an appropriate investigation strategy; • Complete the ERGO application and gain approval; • Identify and access useful sources of information; • Plan and manage an appropriate schedule of work; • Liaise with your supervisor; • Write a well presented dissertation. Subject to the completion of the University’s Risk and Ethics procedures, students are encouraged to study international topics and may carry out fieldwork in overseas contexts.

Special Features

Some programmes offer students the opportunities to work on a business project with companies as a dissertation.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning methods include: • Supervision (as detailed in Dissertation Handbook) • Your Programme Leader/Supervisor may recommend attendance at other seminars or tutorials to aid the development of your topic

Independent Study594
Total study time600

Resources & Reading list

Stata. Software

SPSS. Software

Endnotes. Software

Datastream. Database

Bloomberg. Database

SAS. Software

Fame. Database

Bank Scope. Database

Eviews. Software

Excel. Software

Matlab. Software



Supervision sessions


MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation  (15000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation  (15000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the core/recommended text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

English at Southampton offers great opportunities for postgraduate research. We can offer expertise in all literary periods from the medieval to the present day.

Our courses

Good supervision is the heart of our commitment to providing excellent doctoral research programmes. In English at Southampton, you'll have a supervisory team tailored to your research project's specific needs, drawn from our large and diverse body of research active staff, who are at the forefront of developments in their fields.  Interdisciplinary study is a special strength of Humanities, and English staff and students are active in a number of research centres and cross-disciplinary and collaborative projects; we particularly welcome applications in these areas. We also offer a PhD in Creative Writing; you would be expected to submit a substantial creative work plus an extended essay reflecting on the work, the process of composition, its aims, and context.

If you're interested in applying to us to study for a research degree, have a look at the research interests of individual members of our staff. If you think one or more of them might be an appropriate supervisor for you, please contact the Postgraduate Research Co-ordinator, Dr Ranka Primorac, with a brief outline of your research project. If you'd like to do research on a project across disciplines, we can arrange co-supervision with colleagues elsewhere in Humanities.  If you wish, you can also contact separately any members of staff that you think might be interested in your proposed project. We'll help you develop your ideas, advise you on making an application, and assist you in applying for funding.

How to Apply

Postgraduate students can apply for courses using our online application form. Find out more about the process, deadlines, entry requirements and more on our postgraduate application pages.

PhD study at Southampton

A well-stocked library, proximity to the British Library in London and the Bodleian Library in Oxford (both within easy reach by train), and excellent ICT provision make Southampton a top choice for research students. Students may be full-time or part-time, and fund their studies through grants, university studentships, and their own earnings and loans. For more information on these, see the Faculty of Humanities 'Money Matters' page. Postgraduate research in English is based on individual supervision and is conducted mainly by regular meetings between student and supervisors. You'll have a lead supervisor with expertise in your area of research and a second supervisor who can offer further research advice and read drafts of written work.

Degree structure
The PhD takes three years of full-time study (up to six years for part-time study), and requires a dissertation of up to 75,000 words. All our students are registered initially for the degree of MPhil and must apply to upgrade their candidature if they plan to submit for a PhD. This should take place at least six months before the thesis is submitted for examination, but in practice normally takes place during the second year of full-time candidature. In the case of part-time students, the upgrading procedure takes place at the equivalent stage.

Research Skills Training
As a postgraduate researcher within Humanities you will undertake training through the Humanities Graduate School to improve your research and transferable skills, and raise your awareness of the research environment. The training programme consists of seminars focused on specific skills such as critical thinking, giving a research paper, and on milestones in doctoral study, for example the First Year Presentation, the MPhil Upgrade and the Viva. Versions of the training sessions are made available online. The Centre for Language Study offers high-quality tuition in a wide range of languages (including Latin) at a variety of levels, as well as support for international students who need to improve their command of academic English.

Teaching opportunities and professional development
Research postgraduate students have the opportunity to gain teaching experience on English discipline or Lifelong Learning courses, a crucial step towards an academic career. Annual induction sessions for postgraduates new to teaching are provided by the Faculty. Many of our research students develop valuable organisational, administration, web-editing and publicity skills through activities such as co-organising postgraduate symposia or research seminars, writing or editing for the postgraduate journal emergence, or through marketing or publicity studentships. 

Apply for a postgraduate research degree

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