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The University of Southampton

PAIR6041 MA Cultural Politics Dissertation

Module Overview

The Dissertation is core to the MA Cultural Politics programme, and provides for an extended period of independent research, resulting in a 15,000 word dissertation on a relevant subject of your choice. Essentially, the dissertation is a test of your ability to create and investigate, on your own initiative, a text which demonstrates a Masters level understanding of a particular subject issue. All students are assigned a personal supervisor to work with in developing their research project and to support their research activity. It is important to note that projects that involve empirical research will need to gain ethical approval.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The researching and writing of a 15,000 word dissertation provides you with the opportunity to integrate and hone a variety of skills acquired and extended during your studies, and to significantly deepen your knowledge of a topic of your choice. In many ways, the dissertation is the culmination of your studies on the MA Cultural Politics programme. Writing a dissertation will require you to research, compile, analyse, summarise, assess, argue, formulate, structure, and evaluate. In writing your dissertation, you must engage with problems/issues/topics that broadly reflect the substantive content and/or methodological concerns of your programme. The aim of the module is thus to prepare you to undertake and submit a substantial piece of independent work. Preparation of a dissertation requires you to: • Identify a suitable topic for study; • Design and undertake an appropriate investigation strategy; • Identify and access useful sources of information; • Plan and manage an appropriate schedule of work; • Liaise with your supervisor; • Write a well presented dissertation. Dissertations can take a number of forms, for example: • A critical review of an area of literature; • Theoretical development of a technique or issues; • Empirical work involving quantitative or qualitative analysis of collected data; • A survey of cultural and/or political practice in a particular context; • A case-study of a particular form or instance of cultural politics; • Study of a particular problem in the cultural practice of politics or the politics of cultural practice. You will need to discuss what is appropriate with your supervisor.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how to scope a study in your subject area, stating clear objectives for your study and ensure that the dissertation addresses these objectives.
  • Demonstrate the ability to test ideas including the application of models as appropriate, using a variety of research designs, methodologies, measurements and techniques of analysis.
  • Demonstrate the ability to present ideas and research findings in a well-structured and convincing way, as oral presentations or written papers.
  • Demonstrate the ability to plan, execute and report a significant piece of research or creative work with at least some element of originality.
  • Demonstrate the ability to synthesise ideas and research findings.
  • Demonstrate your ability to work independently, carry out and evaluate a research project relevant to your chosen context.
  • Demonstrate the ability to interpret, conceptualise and critically evaluate the literature, and to relate it to practice as appropriate.
  • Demonstrate independent judgement and critical self-awareness.
  • Demonstrate critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, at, or informed by, the forefront of your academic discipline or field of study.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of in-depth knowledge of your chosen subject and related conceptual literature, making appropriate reference to relevant sources of literature.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how to apply concepts/techniques/frameworks from one or more of your taught modules.
  • Present a clear, logical, and coherent line of argument throughout your dissertation.
  • Ensure that your own ideas and analysis are a prominent part of your dissertation.
  • Provide in depth, critical reflection in your analysis and discussion of results.
  • Evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline
  • Evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.
  • Demonstrate the ability to formulate and test new ideas from a variety of approaches and justify the foundation of those ideas.


The researching and writing of a 15,000 word dissertation is a lengthy project of largely independent study. The examiners will be looking for evidence that the thesis accurately reflects the title. They will look for a clear analysis and a coherent, consistent argument, informed by a good knowledge of available sources. They will expect accurate spelling, punctuation, grammar, good general presentation, etc., correct and complete referencing, and a full bibliography. These criteria are to be met by the student being examined, whilst a supervisor will offer formal advice as to structure and argument.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Learning and teaching methods for this module will include: • Dissertation workshops. • Independent study. Dissertation supervisors are assigned during the second semester, and meet with students throughout the remaining months before submission. The frequency and role of the supervisor will be explained to you in briefings at the beginning of the supervision period and arranged to provide structured guidance on your dissertation project.

Independent Study580
Total study time600

Resources & Reading list

Textbooks, books, journal articles, newspaper articles, specialised website and other internet sources of relevance to the subject chosen for the dissertation topic.. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Diligence and Initiative 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Diligence and Initiative 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:

Anything else not covered elsewhere

The costs are those of researching a topic and will depend on the topic and research methods chosen. Students will be advised by their supervisor as to relevant costs that extend beyond use of the university library resources.

Printing and Photocopying Costs

There will be additional costs for printing and binding your dissertation.


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the core/ recommended text as appropriate

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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