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Open Choice Dissertation 20 credits (RT7316)

Module Tutor: Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray

Summary of course content

Students enrol for the Open Choice Dissertation for a variety of reasons. Occasionally students develop an interest in an area or topic that is not addressed through taught modules in the department. Some students know that they achieve their best results on the basis of alternative assessment. Others develop an interest in the research areas of a member of staff and wish to take advantage of their expertise. A dissertation allows you to explore a topic in your own way, but with the support of a member of staff who has research experience and knows the subject area. It is possible to achieve high marks with this module when you channel your own enthusiasm into self-directed study

In order to write a dissertation you must agree a topic with a tutor before pre-enrolment and come to pre-enrolment with your open dissertation form already signed by them (forms available from the office).

Credits: 20

Availability of module: Every year

Prerequisites: Normally for year 3 students who have gained an average of 2:1 or above at year 2

Necessary for: N/A


i. To allow able students to engage in independent study.
ii. To allow students to pursue the study of topics not covered by taught modules offered in RELIG.
iii. To offer able students a taste of a research environment, with possible implications for PG activities.

Learning outcomes

A student who succeeds in gaining a pass mark for this module will be able to demonstrate through their dissertation that they have:

• identified a topic appropriate for independent study
• produced a relevant bibliography
• understood some of the problems related to theory and method in religious studies and successfully applied this understanding to their own reading and writing
• effectively demonstrated the ability to define and engage with scholarly debates in relation to their chosen area of study.
• the ability to identify and make use of various academic resources, including their tutor
• the capacity to manage time across the academic year
• organised and written a coherent extended piece of work under their own initiative
• the capacity to work alone
• committed application to their chosen subject

Teaching methods

Individual supervision (with supervisor) and whole group classes (study skills)


8,000 word dissertation

Suggested book purchases

Cryer, P. (2000). The Research Student's Guide to Success, Milton Keynes: Open University

Suggested preparatory reading

Bell, J. (1999). Doing Your Research Project, Milton Keynes: Open University Press
Thompson, A. (2001). Critical Reasoning: a practical introduction, London: Routledge
Becker, L. (2003). Effective Communication for Arts and Humanities Students, Basingstoke: Macmillan
Weston, A. (2001). A Rulebook for Arguments, London: Hackett Publishing Co.
Peck, J. and Coyle, M. (1999). The Student's Guide to Writing: grammar, punctuation and spelling, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Warburton, N. (2007). Thinking from A-Z, London: Routledge
Pirie, M. (2007). How to Win Every Argument: the use and abuse of logic, London: Continuum
Fitzpatrick, J., J. Secrist, & D. J. Wright (1998), Secrets for a successful dissertation, London ; Thousand Oaks, CA : Sage Publications.
Luck, M. (1999), Your student research project, Aldershot: Gower.
Markman, R.,  P. T. Markman & M. L. Waddell (2001), 10 steps in writing the research paper, Hauppauge, N.Y.: Barron's.
Murray, R. (2002), How to write a thesis, Buckingham; Philadelphia: Open University Press.P
Parsons, C. J.(1973),  Theses and project work : a guide to research and writing, London : Allen and Unwin.
Watson, G. (1987), Writing a thesis: a guide to long essays and dissertations, London: Longman.