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The University of Southampton

CMRC6015 Dissertation (Medieval and Renaissance Culture)

Module Overview

The MA dissertation is equal in length to a substantial academic journal article. It therefore provides a significant space in which to develop and prove your academic skills. It will enable you to integrate your own interpretative creativity and capacity to study independently with your wider knowledge of medieval and Renaissance culture. You will be encouraged to make interdisciplinary connections where appropriate. Focussing these abilities and knowledge on a single topic will permit you to make your own independent contribution to the discipline.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Aims The aims of this module are to: • give you the opportunity to develop a detailed and original study in the field of medieval and Renaissance studies • allow you to make your own contribution to the field by presenting a coherent, detailed and sustained argument on a specific topic • provide you with a supportive supervisory environment within which you can accomplish these aims • help you to develop advanced skills as an academic researcher and writer on medieval and Renaissance culture • help you to refine research and communication skills which will be of use to you in a professional environment.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • the dissertation topic, its significance for medieval and renaissance studies, and its scholarly, critical, and theoretical contexts
  • what constitutes original research in the field of medieval and Renaissance studies
  • the processes by which critical understanding in the discipline(s) in which you are working is achieved
  • the appropriateness of interdisciplinary research for medieval and Renaissance studies
  • appropriate critical and theoretical methodologies.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate research methods drawn from different disciplines associated with the study of medieval and renaissance culture and apply them independently
  • critically evaluate a wide range of both primary source materials and arguments contained in secondary texts
  • successfully plan an advanced independent research project, determine its structure, and revise that structure where necessary
  • develop an argument from the study of primary sources and the critical evaluation of secondary texts
  • formulate and test interpretations.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate the capacity for self-directed problem-solving, independent working and autonomous time-management
  • show self-direction and creativity in solving problems
  • plan and implement a substantial research task at a higher level
  • communicate a coherent, sustained and convincing argument over a maximum of 15,000 words
  • exercise initiative and personal responsibility
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify a significant research question and a practical means of addressing it
  • locate and identify relevant primary and secondary source materials
  • develop and manage an individual programme of study to bring your chosen research project to fruition
  • follow protocols of organization, citation and presentation
  • communicate research findings appropriately.


You will research and write up a dissertation of 15,000 words on a topic of your choice, subject to the availability of suitable supervisory expertise and to the advice and guidance of your supervisor. You will be assigned to an appropriate supervisor and will develop the work under his or her initial guidance. Though you will have the right to 3 one-hour (or equivalent) supervisory sessions, the bulk of the work will be done independently. Samples of written work and a full penultimate draft of the dissertation may be submitted for comment to the supervisor, and it is expected that normally no more than two weeks should elapse between such submission and feedback to you.

Special Features

Students will be encouraged where appropriate to exploit resources for the dissertation to which they have been introduced on the MA Core Module ‘From Medieval to Renaissance: Reading the Evidence’ (Part 1 CMRC6016 and Part 2 CMRC6017), notably the holdings of Salisbury Cathedral Library and Archives.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • individual supervision sessions • written and verbal feedback on your work Learning activities include • discussion and debate with your supervisor • planning, structuring and revising the plans for your dissertation • researching and collecting relevant data from primary and secondary sources, and evaluating it • composing and presenting your work in appropriate academic style

Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Wider reading or practice277
Completion of assessment task300
Follow-up work10
Project supervision3
Total study time600

Resources & Reading list

Roy Preece (1994)). Starting Research: an Introduction to Academic Research and Dissertation Writing. 

Wayne Preece (2002). A collaborative online learning environment for students undertaking research. 

James E. Mauch and Jack W. Birch (1993). Guide to the Successful Thesis and Dissertation: A Handbook for Students and Faculty. 

Fred Pyrczack (1999). Completing Your Thesis or Dissertation: Professors Share Their Techniques and Strategies. 

Charles R. Doty (1997). Guide to Dissertation Proposal Preparation and Dissertation Preparation. 

Liz Hampson (1994). How’s Your Dissertation Going? Students Share the Rough Reality of Dissertation and Project Work. 

Derek Swetnam et al (1997). Writing Your Dissertation: How to plan, prepare and present your work successfully. 



Draft piece


MethodPercentage contribution
Diligence and Initiative  (15000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 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:

Books and Stationery equipment

Additional costs for students should not exceed £100, including the costs of books and of travel to libraries and archives for their research, notably at Salisbury.

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

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