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The University of Southampton

RESM6019 Area Studies Dissertation (Portsmouth)

Module Overview

If you successfully complete the taught component of the programme, then you will be allowed to progress to the MSRM dissertation [equivalent to 60 CATS/30 ECTS], which can be completed over a 3 month period during summer (usually mid-June to mid-September). However, if there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from completing the requirements of the taught modules at the June Examination Board but you are eligible to take referrals in the supplementary/referral period, then you may progress to the dissertation project. The dissertation module will provide you with an opportunity to undertake an independent research project which will lead to the production of a research document of professional standard not exceeding 15,000-20,000 words. There is great flexibility, with wide ranging options to choose dissertation project topics making use of the Area Studies expertise across the University.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify key research questions and hypotheses in the field of Area Studies on which you will carry out independent research;
  • undertake critical reviews;
  • identify and summarise relevant literature;
  • identify, analyse and interpret data;
  • use your presentation skills;
  • reference using the APA system and other aspects of academic writing.
  • conduct a critical appraisal of literature on the relevant topic;
  • understand and apply relevant theoretical frameworks to the chosen area of study;
  • design an appropriate research strategy and research methodology to carry out your research;
  • identify, obtain and analyse suitable data to enable the research question to be answered;
  • describe the process of carrying out independent research in written format and report your results and conclusions, making reference to existing literature as appropriate;
  • show understanding of the chosen topic area and evidence of clarity of argument;
  • manage your time effectively whilst working on your independent research.
  • carry out independent research;


The module will include: • three tutor-led dissertation skills workshops in semester 2 to outline expectations for the preparation of the dissertation (guidelines, aims, choice of topic, period of study, supervision, length, layout, language, referencing, bibliography, figures/tables, risk assessment form, ethics, disclaimer, binding); • one assessed 10 minute presentation, to be given at the beginning of July, where students will present their project proposal to the Area Studies cohort and their supervisors; • meetings with your Dissertation Supervisor over the summer period); • independent study. As part of this module, you will be offered an opportunity to discuss and agree the topic of your dissertation with the thematic cluster lead[s] and your allocated Dissertation Supervisor. You will receive instructions regarding a range of available/potential topics. However, we encourage you to choose a dissertation topic on your own, based on a specific area of your research interest and reflecting the modules taught in the programme.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning methods include workshop sessions (3 hours), oral presentations with feedback (3 hours), dissertation supervision sessions with supervisor (6 hours) and independent study.

Project supervision6
Completion of assessment task465
Wider reading or practice120
Total study time600

Resources & Reading list

General. You will receive guidance on general reading. Dissertation skills workshop slides and materials will be available on Moodle, along with suggested reading and links to other useful resources. You will be required to complete ethics assessment form to comply with the university regulations and risk assessment protocols. Formal ethical approval is essential before the commencement of the project. Details are available at:



MethodPercentage contribution
Diligence and Initiative  (20000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Diligence and Initiative  (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:

Fieldwork: logistical costs

Unless covered as part of the paid internship, you will be required to fund your field research. You may apply for small funding from national and international agencies/council, with consent from your supervisor.

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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