The University of Southampton
HumanitiesPostgraduate study

ARCH6064 Archaeology Masters Dissertation

Module Overview

The dissertation is a personal research project which is completed with guidance from a personal supervisor. It takes place primarily over the summer period and should involve original research and high-quality formal presentation of material. The word limit allows enough space for both analysis and discussion, as well providing the required detailed account of methods used.

The specific format of the dissertation and the support provided in preparing it is provided in the Archaeology Dissertation Handbook.


Aims and Objectives

The aims of this module are:

• To produce a substantial, extended piece of original research through independent study.

• To develop the necessary research skills and engagement with research culture to plan and execute the dissertation.


 Key skills to be promoted include:

• Engage with critical debates through an extended piece of work;

• Analyze/ synthesize primary and secondary sources;

• Evaluate and critically assess previous work on your chosen subject;

• Make connections between different critical methodologies and use interdisciplinary modes of approaching the subject;

• Communication of research;

• Demonstrate originality of thought and approach which moves beyond a simple synthesis of secondary materials.

Learning outcomes:

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

• The topic you have selected in your chosen field of study.

• Relevant theoretical approaches applicable to your topic.

• Relevant analytical methods appropriate for your topic.

• Scholarly and policy debates relating to your topic.



The dissertation is a considerable piece of self-directed research. It aims to give you the opportunity to undertake an extended piece of independent research, with guidance from a supervisor. It will require reflection on a theoretical framework and critical analysis relating to your chosen topic. It will enable you to make an original contribution to the literature on Archaeology and prepare you for progressing to more advanced study and to preparation of work autonomously beyond academia. It offers an opportunity considerably to enhance your archaeological skills, and in particular those based within your chosen programme.

During the two semesters preceding your dissertation, you will:

• Identify and develop the research skills that you need to undertake your dissertation project.

• Be encouraged to engage with the research community through attending and presenting at a range of relevant seminars, workshops or conferences, and through digital channels such as blogs.

• Prepare a Project Design.

During the summer you will primarily be working independently to execute and write-up your research project. You will have periodic meetings with a supervisor to monitor your progress and discuss any problems that arise. You may also provide updates via digital channels. Towards the end of the summer vacation you will submit draft chapters and sections for feedback at these supervision meetings.


Learning and Teaching

Study time allocation

Contact hours:15
Private study hours:585
Total study time: 600 hours

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include

• Tutorial support from a dedicated dissertation supervisor, and from the Dissertation Co-ordinator, and other related staff.

Learning activities include:

• Individual research.

• Communication of research.

• Attendance at research events such as seminars.


Resources and reading list

Resources vary according to the topic. Your supervisor will provide indicative specific resources, supplemented by general resources provided by the Dissertation Co-ordinator and other staff.


Assessment methods


Assessment Method

Include duration of exams, whether the assessment is formative or summative and whether there are any elements that must be passed for successful completion of the module.

Number % contribution to final mark Final assessement (√)
Formative: Opportunities for presentation of your research ideas in written, visual and/ or oral formats Several 0%
Formative: Opportunities for presentation of your research ideas in written, visual and/or oral formats 1 0%
Formative: Submission of a Project Design 1 0%
Summative: Dissertion (20,000 words) 1 100%
Feedback for the Project Design and final Dissertation will be provided via written or other recorded comments. Feedback on the earlier presentation of your ideas will be via informal oral and written comments.

Referral Method

Summative: Dissertation (20,000 words)

1 100%
Method of repeat year: indicate whether a module can be repeated externally, or if it is only possible to repeat internally by deleting those not applicable.

Repeat year externally

Repeat year internally





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