Language Dissertation

The details
Language and Linguistics
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
23 May 2020


Requisites for this module
LA041 and LA042 and LA051
The Department of Language and Linguistics can offer guidance on prior knowledge or qualification exemptions.



Key module for

BA RR19 French Studies and Modern Languages,
BA RR20 French Studies and Modern Languages (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA RR90 German Studies and Modern Languages (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA RR9F German Studies and Modern Languages,
BA RR38 Italian Studies and Modern Languages,
BA RR40 Italian Studies and Modern Languages (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA Q140 Language Studies,
BA Q143 Language Studies (4 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA R900 Modern Languages,
BA R999 Modern Languages (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA R8T7 Modern Languages with Latin American Studies,
BA R8T9 Modern Languages with Latin American Studies (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA RR49 Spanish Studies and Modern Languages,
BA RR50 Spanish Studies and Modern Languages (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA R4T7 Spanish Studies with Latin American Studies,
BA RT97 Spanish, Portuguese and Brazilian Studies,
BA RT99 Spanish, Portuguese and Brazilian Studies (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
MLANR010 European Languages and Translation,
BA R106 Language Studies with Latin American Studies,
BA R107 Language Studies with Latin American Studies (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

Building on the knowledge and skills gained in their language modules, the Language Expert modules and the Year Abroad (if applicable), students will conduct an independent study, under supervision, on a topic related to their chosen language (areas studied at levels 4, 5 and 6). The topic must be approved by their supervisor. The study culminates in a dissertation of 6,000 words written in the target language. The dissertation can take a variety of forms: for example, a research project on an aspect of culture or society, a literature/film review and analysis (with a focus on a specific author/text or director/film), a translation study*, a comparative translation study with commentary*, etc.
* A translation study is only available to students who are enrolled into LA067 (Translation, Subtitling and Interpreting) or have taken an equivalent translation module during their Year Abroad.

Module aims

With this module, students can expect to develop their ability to conduct independent research, to work with varied and complex sources of information in the target language, thus having the opportunity to develop their analytical thinking and problem solving abilities, and expand their linguistic proficiency and communication skills in the target language.

Module learning outcomes

On completing the module they will have a sound understanding of how to conduct independent research, gather information and report the results of research. They will have advanced lexical and grammatical knowledge of the target language, and an in-depth understanding of the topic they have investigated. They will also have acquired useful transferrable skills such as independent learning, planning and organization and editing and digital skills.

Module information

Materials placed on Moodle are essential to the module and should be treated like a textbook. They must be downloaded, printed and brought to classes. Materials will be added to Moodle when needed, and you are expected to check updates regularly.

Learning and teaching methods

A combination of seminar work, individual supervision in person and by email, and independent study. * Generic (all languages + linguistics students) weekly support sessions (2 hours each) on research methods and academic skills. * 2 individual supervision sessions in term 1 and 3 sessions in term 2. Term 0: – Summer Term prior to final year of study: * Select a topic for study (+ scope and range) and email a suggestion to the language teacher. A supervisor will be assigned. * With the help of the supervisor, identify research questions, sources of information and data gathering methods and start independent research. * Send a draft proposal to the supervisor in week 38. * Complete a written Project Proposal* of 400 words and submit it to the supervisor by week 40. This will count for 10% of the overall mark for the dissertation. Term 1: * Attend the generic sessions and the individual sessions with the supervisor. * Submit a dissertation plan and a bibliography. * Submit the draft of a section/chapter (1,500 words) by week 16. This is a formative piece of assessment, for which students will receive feedback but which will not count towards the final mark. Term 2: * Attend the generic sessions and the individual sessions with the supervisor. * Re-write the 1,500 draft in the light of the supervisor's feedback. * Write up the dissertation, considering comments from the supervisor and peer review (where applicable). Term 3: * Finalise and submit the 6,000 word dissertation, including content page, annotations/bibliography, appendices, etc. by week 30. This will count for 70% of the overall mark. * Prepare a viva to defend your work: this will consist in a 10 min. oral presentation in week 32, with written support (slides, bibliography), followed by 10 min. questions. This will count for 20% of the overall mark. * Any subsequent changes to the proposal will have to be agreed by the supervisor and the module director.


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Written proposal (in English)    10% 
Coursework   Final dissertation    70% 
Practical   Oral presentation (viva) in the target language, with written support (slides, bibliography)    20% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Ms Dounia Bissar, email:
Various see below
Teresa Torres (Spanish), Dounia Bissar (French), Emma Hopper (German), Ignazia Posadinu (Italian), Beatriz De Paiva (Portuguese). Any member of the Modern Languages teaching staff may be involved in student supervision, depending on their area of expertise.



External examiner

Prof Sonia Cunico
University of Exeter
Director of Language Teaching
Prof Paul Bishop
University of Glasgow
Dr Maria Da Conceicao Pereira
Newcastle University
Ms Marga Navarrete
Spanish Coordinator
Ms Marga Navarrete
Spanish Coordinator
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 16 (40%) hours available to students:
24 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Language and Linguistics

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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