Dissertation Guidelines [PDF 237.65KB]

Dissertation Guidelines [PDF 237.65KB]
Guidelines for the Year Abroad Dissertation 2015/16
Please refer to the section ‘Academic Framework of the Year Abroad’
for the dates and deadlines applicable in 2015/16
1. Introduction
You are undertaking the preparation and writing of the Year Abroad Dissertation.
This exercise has long been valued within the University for the unique opportunity it
provides for students to undertake primary research abroad over several months and
submit the results in the form of a substantial piece of written work. There is a great
deal of evidence that it has enabled and encouraged students to awaken and refine
academic skills which have had a significant impact on subsequent postgraduate
work and in other ways related to career development.
2. Principles and Procedures
The Dissertation is completed by you under supervision from a member of
faculty (normally in your department) at Sussex during your Year Abroad and
submitted for examination at Sussex by the stated deadline (4 pm on 13
June 2016).
The Dissertation is written in a foreign language related to your Year Abroad
and indicated on your YA Study Plan and should be 6,000 words in length.
Dual language students should pay attention to the following:
Language Assistantship: Pedagogic Report in the language of the country
where you are working / Dissertation in your other language
Study/Dissertation: Dissertation to be written in your other language (i.e. not
the language of the country where you were studying)
Study/Work Placement: Work report to be written in your other language (i.e.
not the language of the country where you were studying)
You are referred to the ‘Examination and Assessment Handbook for
Undergraduate Students’ for rules and the submission deadline relating to this
assessment unit.
The Dissertation is a substantial piece of work and carries substantial credit
weighting. It is the equivalent of 6 months work.
2. 5
You should realise that your Dissertation Supervisor is a busy person and you
must be well organised and well prepared to give your supervisor time to
make appropriate comments. Research and preparation for your Dissertation
should begin early in the Year Abroad. You should initiate contact with your
supervisor ideally before going abroad and maintain it when abroad.
Supervisors are not required or expected to undertake supervisory duties
during the Summer Vacations and may refuse to do so. Through the year, you
should remember the termly pattern of work at Sussex and time your
communications with your supervisor accordingly (letters, faxes, or emails for
preference; telephone calls only if unavoidable). You cannot expect your
supervisor to be readily available outside office hours or during holiday
periods. If you intend to see your supervisor during a return visit to the UK,
you should make an appointment in good time.
3. Supervision and Preparation
When completing the YA Study Plan, you considered the option of the
Dissertation depending on whether or not it is permitted by your Major
Subject. Having chosen and been permitted to write the Dissertation, you
were referred to your YA Departmental Representative for further consultation
and the allocation of a supervisor. You presented a brief outline, establishing
an approved topic, which may relate to any or all of the following: your YA
destination; your Major Subject; School modules you have taken; modules
you plan to take during your YA. The supervisor has signed the appropriate
section of your YA Study Plan (occasionally, the Subject Representative may
sign on her/his behalf). Concerning your topic, ask yourself the following
What is my YA destination?
What kind of topic will make good use of the resources (or take account of the
lack of resources) available there?
Which academic skills do I wish to acquire through researching and writing
the Dissertation?
Do I have a particular academic weakness which work for the Dissertation
might address?
How will my Dissertation topic relate to the range of modules studied at
Sussex and on my YA?
Is there an area of study my Dissertation could help to complement? A gap it
could help to fill?
Does my intended topic require primary research in or around my Year
Abroad destination?
Am I choosing a topic I might just as well, or better, undertake at Sussex? If
so, think again!
You should use the University Library and any other resources suggested by
your supervisor to accumulate a brief outline bibliography in preparation for
your research, before you go.
It is occasionally necessary or advisable to change the topic of your
Dissertation once you are abroad (for example, because of difficulties in
pursuing the required research at your YA destination, or because an
appropriate topic, not previously considered, appears particularly viable). In
such a case, you should request a change of topic at the earliest possible
point, giving your reasons and discussing and agreeing the proposed change
with your supervisor. Any change must be agreed by the due date and will be
entered on your Study Plan.
You might usefully plan one or more short return visits to the UK in vacation
periods to make use of the Sussex University Library if it has material helpful
to your topic.
You should investigate any possibilities of obtaining local academic guidance
and make the best use possible of this. However, formal responsibility for
guidance remains with your Sussex supervisor.
The limits of the supervisor's duties may be described as follows:
to recommend limited academic preparation prior to the Year Abroad;
to correspond with you during the course of the Year Abroad about specific
kinds of guidance;
formally to approve the Dissertation topic and title;
to consider and comment on a writing plan of no more than 2 typed pages.
The supervisor cannot be expected to undertake the following duties:
to correct draft versions of the Dissertation;
to learn about the library holdings of foreign institutions or acquire expertise
about local issues;
to comment on Dissertation plans during the Summer Vacations following
Year 2 or the Year Abroad.
Researching and Writing
Research evolves gradually and continuously:
Keep your research objectives firmly in mind throughout;
Be aware of the timetable of work throughout the year – assessing the topic,
formulating your argument, drafting your plan, confirming the plan and
eventual title with your supervisor, writing successive drafts (perhaps 2 or 3),
final editing, dealing with illustrations, appendices, etc, typing up, submitting
on time;
During your research take careful and accurate notes of the source material
as you encounter it: what is the exact title of that book or article? which page
number for that quotation? which edition did I use? etc.
Don't start drafting the dissertation until you have made a plan and don't make
your plan until you have established your thesis or argument;
Write in the foreign language, rather than translating out of English into it;
You may enlist local help with language accuracy but the work must be your
Quotations in English (or another language that is not the Target Language)
in Dissertations are discouraged and, where necessary, should not be
counted in the word limit of 6,000 words. Any such quotations should be
introduced, presented or paraphrased in the TL in such a way that the sense
of them would be clear to a reader who does not understand English (or any
language other than the TL);
You should not normally use either source or secondary material that has
been translated into your Target Language from an original version in another
Follow standard academic practice regarding footnotes or references;
Supply a bibliography, arranged in alphabetical order by author or editor,
giving full and accurate details of each text cited or consulted, including
complete title, place and date of publication, or volume number and date in
the case of periodicals;
The Dissertation should follow a standard order: Title Page (your name
should not appear; your candidate number should be entered on each page);
Preface (a paragraph giving the basic outline of the work and making any
acknowledgements required); Contents Page; List of Illustrations, Maps, etc,
(if required); Chapters or Sections, each properly headed (with title or
number), and each starting on a new page; Notes; Bibliography; Appendices
(if required). Do not forget to number the pages.
These Notes are intended to provide general advice and supply answers to
frequently asked general questions about the Dissertation. More specific advice
regarding presentation and critical apparatus is given in the Style Sheet included
with these notes. Also, more subject-specific advice regarding the Dissertation may
be obtainable from your YA Departmental Representative, and of course advice
about your individual exercise should be sought from your supervisor.
Criteria of Achievement
General criteria:
The examiners of the Dissertation will take into account the following:
The quality of the written language is weighted at 40% of the mark for the
Dissertation or Report, and is assessed on the same basis as quality of
language in a “Content” Essay in the TL (see the Modern Languages “Red
Book” for the relevant criteria of language assessment). There is no
discrimination as between Major and Minor students of the language.
Knowledge and understanding of the topic, reflecting the amount of time and
work expected.
Structure and quality of the argument. Coherence and clarity of structure and
argument; degree of critical insight; adequacy, accuracy and appositeness in
the use of evidence. Intellectual adventurousness and originality of thought or
approach, sufficiently well grounded in the material and the argument of the
Dissertation, will be rewarded.
Presentation. Clear, well-ordered arrangement of text and apparatus (notes,
bibliography etc.) making proper use of an appropriate system of annotation.
See also the attached European Year Abroad Dissertation Assessment Bands
and Criteria.
You are reminded of the need to avoid collusion and plagiarism, both of which are
forms of misconduct and may be heavily penalised. Consult the section 'Plagiarism,
Collusion and Misconduct' in the ‘Examination and Assessment Handbook for
Undergraduate Students’ if you are uncertain about their meaning, particularly in
relation to the advice above concerning local help with the Dissertation which you
are permitted or encouraged to obtain on your Year Abroad. Help with the language
of your Dissertation should be corrective only and should not amount to (re)writing of
the content. Any help received must be acknowledged. Further advice about this
may also be obtained from your supervisor.
The European Year Abroad Dissertation 2015/16:
Style Sheet
These notes are intended as a brief guide to presentation, quoting, giving
references, and providing bibliographies in essays and dissertations. Fuller advice
about these and other matters of presentation will be found in the Modern
Languages Association of America (MLA) Style Sheet and the Modern Humanities
Research Association (MHRA) Style Book, both classified in the University Library
under Z 235 Mod. You may also wish to consult the leaflet available from the UL's
Information Services: 'References: Guidelines for use'. Further useful guides are:
Nancy L Baker A Research Guide for Undergraduate Students (3rd edition, 1989);
Judith Bell Doing Your Research Project (2nd edition); Ralph Berry The Research
Project: how to write it; Pat Cryer The Research Student's Guide to Success; Sue
Drew and Rosie Bingham The Student Skills Guide; Kate Turabian A Manual for
Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (1982). All these are available in
the UL: all but Baker and Turabian are held in the Reserve Collection. Your
supervisor or tutor may make other suggestions.
This should be clear, attractive, and simple. Confused and messy presentation
will usually be marked down, but over-elaborate or merely decorative typography
is not an advantage either. Well spaced text is easier to read: text should be
double (or 1.5) spaced: good sized margins are appreciated, enabling tutors to
make comments on coursework or note locations for discussion in examined
work. Subdividing your text in the case of longer essays or dissertations is often
appropriate, using either numerals or section titles, but avoid too fussy a
proliferation of sections.
Longer quotations should be set out separately from the text of your essay,
indented, and single-spaced. Quotations of a few words only should be
incorporated directly into your text, in quotation marks. The distinction is not
based purely on length. Quotations set down as illustration or demonstration of a
point tend to be separated for emphasis. Those that simply make use of the
writer's own words, rather than paraphrasing them, tend to be incorporated
directly into the essay or dissertation text. Verse more than two lines long should
normally be separated from your text.
As indicated above, quotations incorporated into your text should be distinguished by quotation marks. Quotations separated from your text are thereby
sufficiently distinguished and should not carry quotation marks. But if a further
quotation appears within the separated text this should of course carry its own
quotation marks.
Quotations set out separately should be in some sense complete statements and
not broken or incomplete grammatically or syntactically. Omissions within the
original text you are quoting should be indicated, normally by three dots within
square brackets, thus: […]. Quotations incorporated into your text should fit into
the grammatical structure of the sentence they are part of.
Quotations should be accurate and in the form of the original (important in the
case of verse): any alterations or emendations to quoted text should be clearly
signalled by being placed in square brackets. Divisions between lines of verse
incorporated in your text should be indicated by a transverse slash (/). Italics or
bold print in the original should be reproduced in your text.
The purpose of a reference is to inform your reader of the provenance of a
quotation or allusion in your text as quickly and easily as possible. There are a
number of systems of referencing: consult your tutor or supervisor for specific
advice. In general, though, the watchwords are clarity, consistency, brevity: your
references must be unambiguous; you must keep to the same system
throughout; you should aim for the most economical method consistent with
Referencing should be complete: a sufficient indication for every passage you
quote, whether from a source text or a secondary critical work.
Repeated references to the same work or works may be abbreviated, provided a
fully explicated list of abbreviations is supplied. If the work to which reference is
made is quite clear from the context of your discussion, then your reference need
specify only the location within that work. Reference to location may be by page
number; page and line number; act, scene, and line number (for plays); line
number (long poems). Again, consult your tutor or supervisor for more specific
advice. Where references are abbreviated they should normally be placed in
brackets within the text of your essay or dissertation.
Titles of book-length works, including plays and long poems, should be set in
italics. Titles of shorter works (short poems, short stories, articles, essays) should
be placed within quotation marks.
Since pagination, lineation, and even sometimes the text itself can differ from
edition to edition of a given work, it is important to specify the edition you are
referring to. You may do this in an initial footnote at the point of first reference or
quotation; or by a briefer reference together with an indication that full details are
given in your bibliography.
In any case, a full bibliography should be provided, listing in alphabetical order by
author all the works you have referred to or consulted in the preparation and
writing of your essay or dissertation. It may be subdivided if appropriate: e.g. into
'Works Consulted' and 'Works Cited'; or into 'Primary Works' and 'Secondary
Works': consult with your tutor or supervisor about appropriate subdivisions, if
As well as a bibliography, a list of illustrations, maps, or any other materials used
in the preparation and writing of the essay or dissertation, should be included if
Each entry in your bibliography should contain adequate information concerning
the work in question, as follows:
For single author books, primary or secondary: (i) author - last name, first name
or initials; (ii) full title – in italics; (iii) editor or translator, if applicable; (iv) publisher
and place of publication (the latter optional); year of publication - i.e. the date of
the edition you have used.
For collections of essays or articles: (i) editor - last name, first name or initials; (ii)
full title – in italics; (iv) publishing details, as above.
For individual essays or articles within collections: (i) author of article; (ii) title of
article - in quotation marks; (iii) title of collection – in italics; (iv) editor of
collection; (v) publishing details, as above. For articles in periodicals: (i) author of
article; (ii) title of article; (iii) name of periodical; (iv) volume and/or issue number
of periodical; (v) date of publication - in brackets; (vi) page reference - optional.
You are strongly recommended to take down the full bibliographical details of
the work you are consulting before you take notes from it.
European Year Abroad Dissertation Assessment Bands and Criteria
University of Sussex
The Year Abroad dissertation is assessed predominantly on the academic quality of
its content (weighted at 60%) as distinct from the linguistic proficiency of the
language in which it is expressed (weighted at 40%). The Language criteria are as
per those for a ‘Content Essay’ in the Modern Languages ‘Red Book’ of Assessment
You are reminded of the need to avoid collusion and plagiarism, both of which are
forms of misconduct and may be heavily penalised. Students should refer to the
section 'Plagiarism, Collusion and Misconduct' in the ‘Examination and Assessment
Handbook for Undergraduate Students’ if uncertain about their meaning, particularly
in relation to the advice above concerning local help with the Dissertation which you
are permitted or encouraged to obtain on your Year Abroad. Help with the language
of your Dissertation should be corrective only and should not amount to (re)writing of
the content. Any help received must be acknowledged. Further advice about this
may also be obtained from your supervisor.
70% + First class. Excellent work that shows all the qualities of an upper second
piece of work with additional elements of originality and flair, maturity and
confidence. A range of critical reading should be apparent, with a fluently written,
well-constructed argument showing awareness of the nuances of the relevant
issues. Work in this band is often exciting to read; it will stand out from most of the
others. Students may have taken a risk and gone out on a limb to make a point
about the topic or to challenge some accepted position, but they must be able to
back up their argument with sound resort to evidence or to theoretical sources.
60%-69% Upper second class. Work that indicates substantial engagement with a
diversity of material and demonstrates a good understanding of the relevant issues
and material. It should show that the student has thought about the topic and has not
simply reproduced standard arguments or evidence from various sources. In work
graded towards the higher end of this band, students will show confidence in
handling complex material. There should be no major omissions in the coverage of
the topic, nor should there be any significant errors of understanding or
interpretation. It will be properly presented in terms of structure, references and
50%-59% Lower second class. This will be competent work showing evidence of
having read and understood relevant material. Overall the grasp of the topic should
be sound. It will be reasonably well structured with no serious errors of fact or
understanding, but demonstrating little independent thought. Such work may show
signs of an attempt at originality that is nevertheless insufficiently grounded in a
thorough appreciation of the material. References and bibliography should be
substantially correct.
40%-49% Third class. Work that displays only limited reading and some basic
understanding of the topic, but will not have gone beyond this. There may well be
signs of confusion about more complex material. Such work is often poorly
presented and inadequately documented, but it will show some sign of proper
structure and organisation. Material should be properly referenced, although there
may be quite a heavy reliance on a very few sources.
30%-39% Non-honours Pass. Such work is likely to be short, inaccurate and
confused, or heavily derivative. Although such work will show evidence of some
engagement with the topic it may not draw adequately on relevant readings,
concepts or methods of analysis. Significant issues are likely to be neglected, and
there will be little or no appreciation of complex or subtle arguments. It is likely to be
characterised by assertion rather than argument, inadequate references and
29% and below - Fail. This is extremely weak work, below degree standard, very
short and/or jumbled, with little evidence of effort or understanding.
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