Philosophy Dissertation

The details
Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
05 April 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

Students write a 5,000-word dissertation based on a philosophical topic studied in either their second year or the Autumn term of their final year

Important Note: although this is a Spring term module, there are compulsory components in the Autumn term, including attendance at two workshops (weeks 2 and 4) and submission of two assignments (weeks 3 and 9). Failure to submit either assignment will result in discontinuation on the module and enrolment on an alternative Spring module.

On completion of the Autumn term components, suitability for continuation on PY426 into the Spring term will be assessed on the strength of the 500-word summary and the 1,500-word proposal. Decisions will be communicated back to students in Week 11 (end of the Autumn term). Students whose proposals are not approved will be required to choose an alternative Spring-term module to make up the required credits.

Supervision: students will be responsible for contacting potential supervisors and arranging meetings to discuss their proposals. Note: students are not guaranteed a supervisor. If the quality of the proposal is not sufficient, or if the proposed topic is in an area unconnected to anyone's area of expertise, it is unlikely that a supervisor will be found. Once approved to continue into the Spring term, students will receive up to 3 hours of supervision.

This is an independent research module, so students will need to be highly-motivated, show initiative, and have excellent time-management.

Module aims

The aim of this module is:

  • To allow third/final year students to write their first piece of independent research on a topic which they have chosen themselves.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be have acquired and/or developed the relevant research skills:

  1. Independence of thought.

  2. The capacity to organise and structure a longer piece of written work.

  3. The ability to explore the secondary literature on a particular topic in an autonomous way.

  4. To develop their own ideas more in depth than in a standard-length essay.

  5. Deepened their knowledge of the area of philosophy relevant to the topic they have selected

Skills for your Professional Life (Transferable Skills)

By the end of this module, students will be expected to have developed the following transferable skills:

  1. The ability to think independently.

  2. To consider and act on advice.

  3. To work creatively with others (the supervisor).

  4. Time management.

  5. Clear communication, both oral and written.

Module information

The dissertation must be linked EITHER to a Philosophy module taken and passed during the second/penultimate year (either 15 or 30 credits) OR to a Philosophy module taken during the autumn term of the third/final year. In the latter case the dissertation can be linked either to a stand-alone third year 15 credit module OR to the first half of a third year 30 credit module.

Note that if the dissertation is linked to a module taken in the autumn, the assessment for that module will occur as normal (in other words, the dissertation does NOT replace the standard assessment for the linked module). If the dissertation is linked to a Philosophy module taken during a period of study abroad, all coursework submitted for the relevant module taken abroad must be submitted to the Undergraduate Office (6.130) prior to the start of the term in which the dissertation module is to be taken.

Enrolment onto PY426-6-SP: Philosophy Dissertation in the spring term is on a provisional basis until confirmed or cancelled at the end of the preceding autumn term, based on the strength of a 500-word summary (accompanied by a short bibliography of the 3 most relevant references) and a 1500-word proposal (with a bibliography of the 5 most relevant references). Students whose proposals are not approved, or who fail to submit either of the two assignments above, will be requested to choose an alternative spring-term module to make up the required credits. Details can be found in the Module Description for PY426.

Your Supervisor (who must be a member of academic staff in Philosophy) can be either the person who taught on the module to which your dissertation is connected, or another member of staff who has expertise in the relevant area. Please note that writing a dissertation involves carrying out independent research into the topic which you have chosen. This must be evidenced in your concluding bibliography, which should be substantial. Such a project requires strong self-motivation, a capacity for autonomous work, and good time-management skills. If carrying out such independent research does not appeal to you, then you should choose a taught module instead. The marking criteria for the Dissertation are the same as those applying to philosophy essays.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • Initial meeting with supervisor.
  • 1.5 to 3 hours of supervision, to be split in as many or as few sessions as required over the course of the relevant term.

All supervisions are to take place during term-time.


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   Philosophy Dissertation (5000 Words)    100% 
Coursework   500-word abstract of dissertation idea + 3 most relevant sources    0% 
Coursework   1500-word proposal + 5 most relevant sources    0% 

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
PHAIS General Office - 6.130;



External examiner

Dr Josiah Saunders
Durham University
Associate Professor
Available via Moodle
Of 1 hours, 1 (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.


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

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