Doing Interdisciplinary Research for a BA Dissertation: Approaches, Methods, Practice

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
11 September 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L400PT Social Change

Module description

This module is an opportunity to pursue your own interests and investigate a topic that really inspires you.

The module is designed to help you develop your dissertation ideas and give you the methodological tools for doing research in a systematic and imaginative way.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To prepare students for carrying out research for a final year BA dissertations.

  • To introduce students to the principles of research design, and a range of methods and sources appropriate for interdisciplinary research.

  • To provide students with a general orientation to the practical problems they are likely to encounter during their dissertation research.

  • To provide students with transferable research skills relevant to future careers.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Understand the principles of research design and proposal writing.

  2. Understand how to use qualitative research methods in a systematic way.

  3. Understand what constitutes a feasible, ethical, BA research project.

  4. Have knowledge of relevant concepts and terms.

Module information

Doing research is fun, and the BA dissertation can be the most rewarding part of your degree.

By the end of the module you will have designed a research project, written a detailed proposal, and be ready to start collecting data. Even if you decide not to do a dissertation, this module's research training will stand you in good stead for doing research in the future, whether in postgraduate study or future careers.

Students are expected to work hard during the term and give careful thought to coursework. The short assignments are devised to enable you to develop your research project ideas as the module proceeds, and be ready to present a draft proposal at the workshop in the summer term. The feedback on your presentation will then help you to refine your ideas before submitting the final written research proposal.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • This module consists of nine sessions, a tutorial and a final workshop.

Most sessions combine short lectures, class exercises and discussion.

Students are expected to attend all sessions, read the set readings, and participate actively in seminar discussion.

There will be a Reading Week when no teaching will take place, exact week to be confirmed.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Assignment 1: Review of Past ISC Dissertation (750 words)    15% 
Coursework   Assignment 2: Bibliographic Search and Selection of Key Academic Texts    10% 
Coursework   Assignment 3: Review of an Artwork, Cartoon or Film    15% 
Coursework   Assignment 5: Written Research Proposal (2000 words)    50% 
Practical   Assignment 4: Oral Presentation of Draft Research Proposal    10% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Jane Hindley, email: janeh@essex.ac.uk.
PHAIS General Office - 6.130; isugadmin@essex.ac.uk.



External examiner

Dr Francisco Carballo
Goldsmiths, University of London
Lecturer in the Politics and Culture of Latin America
Available via Moodle
Of 18 hours, 18 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


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