Dissertation Preparation: Postgraduate Research and Writing Skills

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 27 June 2025
29 March 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA W80012 Creative Writing,
MA Q20212 Film and Literature,
MA QV2312 Film Studies,
MA Q20012 Literature,
MA W81112 Scriptwriting (Theatre and Digital Media),
MA W8F912 Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment,
MA T72012 American Literatures,
MA W81212 Theatre Practice,
MA QW3012 Literature and Creative Writing,
MA Q20E12 Modern and Contemporary Literature,
MA P50012 International Journalism,
MA P3P312 Documentary Film,
MPHDQV2K48 Film Studies,
PHD QV2K48 Film Studies,
MPHDQ22K48 Literature,
PHD Q22K48 Literature,
MLITQ392 Creative Writing,
MLITQ391 Literature,
MLITQ393 Literature and Creative Writing,
MLITQ394 Drama and Scriptwriting

Module description

This module prepares postgraduate students to explore and select research topics and equips them for their creative or non-creative dissertations.

The dissertation is a crucial component of all these MA schemes and this module enables students to use methodologies, major concepts, and approaches to pursue independent research in literary and cultural issues, as well as the chance to develop their creative practice in terms of the different modes of research that inform a creative dissertation.

This module will also expand the students' understanding of research from other primary and secondary textual and digital sources to include archives and experiential research. This module will show students how research can shape and guide multiple outputs and will demonstrate potential pathways from the genesis to delivery and dissemination of creative and/or critical projects.

The course is also recommended to first-year LiFTS PhD & MA by Dissertation students undertaking a creative project as the main component of their doctorate.

Module aims

1. To introduce students to the various research methods involved in creative practice.
2. To help students through the conception and execution of their dissertation.
3. To enable each student to identify their research interests and provide each student with the skills to effectively organise and express the arguments and points of view key to the research field selected.
4. To provide students with structured inspiration and preparation that will orientate their expectations and working practices for future creative projects.
5. To gain experience in workshop sessions that promote exchange, questioning, experimentation and discussion.
6. To assist the student in accessing and connecting individual creativity to the creativity of the works under study.

Embarking upon a dissertation project should be an exciting challenge that fosters personal growth and expression as well as critical and analytical disciplines.

Module learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of the research methods relating to their dissertation subject and to post-graduate study in general.
2. Critically evaluate the pertinence of particular research methods in relation to their own creative practice and/or area of study.
3. Feel confident in accessing library research resources, including online resources to support research and referencing for their dissertation.
4. Understand how to use various resources and methodologies, such as archives, field work and experimental strategies, and the benefits that they offer in supporting new and original research.
5. Understand how to write, evaluate and structure arguments relating to their subject.
6. Ability to address theoretical, stylistic and editing issues in critical writing relating to their research topics.

Module information

In the Autumn term, students consider what constitutes research and increase their skills in library, online and archival research. Development of bibliographies and managing references are also addressed in a workshop environment. Skills in structuring research questions, dissertation proposals and critical writing are the focus of other workshops where discussion is emphasised. The module's elements focus on how to explore different approaches to studying and analysing the issues posed by texts and developed in research questions.

Lecturers engaged with artistic practices will also be invited to speak on the notion of research as a creative endeavour, and how creative practice can constitute research in itself. This will be of value to all MA students in enriching their understanding of independent enquiry and advanced exploratory study.

The Spring term will offer guidance on critical articulation of research positionally, in academia and creative practice, to specifically support Critical Commentaries of creative dissertations, and to foster the intellectual modes in each research project.

Learning and teaching methods

Fortnightly 2 hour seminar/lectures over both Autumn and Spring terms plus one three hour research skills session in the Spring term.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Formative assignment: Annotated Bibliography (2,000 words)    0% 
Coursework   Dissertation Proposal (for Supervisor allocation)     0% 
Coursework   Dissertation Plan/Outline or Creative Project Research Dossier (4,000 words)    100% 

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 James Canton, email:
Dr Holly Pester, email:
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Andrew Birtwistle
Canterbury Christ Church University
Reader in Film and Sound
Dr Will Norman
University of Kent
Reader in American Literature and Culture
Dr Lorna Burns
University of St Andrews
Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literatures
Dr Christina Papagiannouli
University of South Wales
Research Fellow
Dr Tim Atkins
University of Roehampton
Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing
Available via Moodle
Of 21 hours, 15 (71.4%) hours available to students:
6 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.