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The University of Southampton

HERI6001 Dissertation or Professional Project

Module Overview

Students on this module can take one of two pathways: completing a dissertation or a professional project. The dissertation is a personal research project of up to 20,000 words on a topic approved by their supervisor. It takes place over the summer period and should involve original research and high-quality formal written presentation of material. The 20,000 limit allows enough space for both analysis and discussion, as well as providing the required detailed account of methods used. The professional project can take various forms (e.g. exhibition design or catalogue, professional report, guidebook etc). It should meet the professional standards of the field in both content and presentation and be on a topic approved by your supervisor. In addition it should be accompanied by a commentary (5000-15,000 words) which highlights the background, theoretical frameworks and key issues that site the work in the broader academic and professional context. The length of the commentary will depend on the nature of the project and should be approved beforehand by your supervisor. As part of this module you will also write a research design and give an oral presentation ('pitch') as an opportunity to receive feedback from staff and fellow students.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Relevant theoretical approaches applicable to your chosen project;
  • Relevant analytical, practical and/or professional methods appropriate for your chosen project;
  • The wider background and scholarly/professional debates relating to your chosen project.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse/ synthesize primary and secondary sources;
  • Evaluate and critically assess previous work on your chosen subject;
  • Demonstrate originality of thought and approach;
  • Present ideas to a professional standard.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Define and manage research or professional projects;
  • Access and utilize recent research and/or examples;
  • Demonstrate effective research and/or professional skills.


The dissertation and professional project are considerable pieces of self-directed work. They aim to give you the opportunity to undertake an extended piece of independent research, professional report or design, 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 study or presentation of cultural heritage 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 knowledge base, research and practical skills. During the module you will: • Identify and develop the research/practical skills that you need to undertake your dissertation. • Be encouraged to engage with the research or professional community through attending and presenting at a range of relevant seminars, workshops or conferences, visiting museums and other heritage institutions 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 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 you will submit draft chapters and sections for feedback at these supervision meetings.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and group seminars One-on-one supervisions Peer feedback

Completion of assessment task10
Completion of assessment task140
Project supervision10
Guided independent study387
Assessment tasks8
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Total study time600

Resources & Reading list

Mort, S (2017). Professional report writing. 

Parija, S.C. and Kate, V. eds., . (2018).  Thesis Writing for Master's and Ph. D. Program. Springer.. 

University of southampton study skills online resource.



Project design


MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation  (20000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation  (20000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation  (20000 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:

Accommodation and Travel

Small bursaries are provided to cover travel costs associated with dissertation/professional project work. The student will need to meet costs over and above this amount, and are encouraged to design their research with this in mind.

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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