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The University of Southampton

LING6027 Research Skills for Dissertation Study

Module Overview

This module provides you with support in identifying a topic and developing plans for your independent MA dissertation.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Further develop the research, study and time management skills you will need for a substantial independent research investigation (the MA dissertation) • Support you in formulating a suitable research topic for your dissertation, and deepening your personal knowledge and skills in relevant fields • Support you in developing an appropriate research plan and instrumentation.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • A specialist topic in applied linguistics/ English language teaching relevant to your personal interests and context
  • Current theoretical approaches relevant to your chosen topic
  • Current empirical studies, policies and/or practices relevant to your topic
  • Research methods and ethical issues relevant to the investigation of your topic
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Manage a substantial independent project
  • Search literature effectively and develop and maintain a bibliographic database
  • Make an effective oral presentation of work in progress
  • Act as ‘critical friend’ to colleagues through peer evaluation and support
  • Use information technology appropriately to support data collection and analysis
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Formulate a research problem and design a manageable independent study to investigate it
  • Conduct a systematic literature review
  • Develop appropriate data collection and analysis procedures
  • Reflect critically on the research process


This module provides you with support in identifying a topic and developing plans for your independent MA dissertation. The group activities of the module complement the individual supervision received from your dissertation tutor. You will further develop your library research and bibliographic skills and read in depth for your individual topic. You will develop a detailed plan for your dissertation project, and present this to both peers and tutors in oral and written form. You will receive formative feedback on your plans and give feedback to others in group discussion. In workshop sessions you will deepen your knowledge of relevant research skills including IT skills.

Special Features

In a traditional module, contact time would typically be with materials, tutor, and fellow participants, all in a classroom setting. Online learning is self-instructional learning and there are no classes as such. A large degree of responsibility for and control over your learning rests with you. However, it is important to help you to structure your study time and we do this through two important online forms of contact or interaction. Tasks and feedback which help you to preview, focus, check on or explore issues related to your independent study reading are one form of possible contact time, taking up 3 hours a week. There will also be a 2 hour weekly asynchronous forum of discussion, presentation and interaction tasks, moderated by tutors and providing important opportunities for interaction with tutors and peers.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Online tutor led discussion forums on aspects of project design • Small group sessions on field methods • Interactive tasks in topic learning objects • Presentations and lectures via podcasts/audio/video files • Synchronous chat/small group discussions • Online presentations of individual projects and discussion/ evaluation with tutors and peers Learning activities include • Identifying your area of interest and formulating your research problem • Accessing online resources to develop your own specialised bibliography • Developing and sharing specific fieldwork skills relevant to your project • Preparing and delivering presentations of your project • Taking part in group evaluative discussions and acting as ‘critical friend’ to peers • Mastering relevant software packages

Independent Study75
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Bell, J (1999). Doing Your Research Project: A guide for first-time researchers in education and social science. 

Brown, J D and Rodgers, T S (2002). Doing Second Language Research. 

McDonough, J and McDonough, S (1997). Research Methods for English Language Teachers. 

Walliman, N (2001). Your Research Project: A step by step guide for the first-time researcher. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation proposal  (3500 words) 70%
Review paper  (1500 words) 30%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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