Module code: ELI3033

Module Overview

The dissertation module is intended to provide students with an opportunity to select a research topic relating to an aspect of literary study which has engaged their own particular interest, and to explore it in detail through guided self-study. Each student will be assigned a tutor who will assist them in choosing their subject matter and literary approach, and who will provide advice, encouragement and formative feedback over the course of the writing process, as well as suggesting relevant reading material which may help inspire or critically locate the project. As well as the dissertation itself students will undertake a formative presentation in semester 1, and work on developing self-reflective skills through completing a progress log with their supervisors.

This module connects to other modules on the programme undertaken by the students and can act as a culmination of their studies, in that the students can bring together and build from strands from earlier modules that they have particularly liked and excelled at, or act as a complement to other modules that the student has enjoyed but where they wish to use this dissertation module as an opportunity to explore and develop a different area that they wish to write on. As such, this module can connect with any of the modules students have studied across their degree, and allows them to tailor their pathway through the degree, and the degree itself, in their own way.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

DOVE Danielle (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 45

ECTS Credits: 22.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 12

Independent Learning Hours: 378

Tutorial Hours: 4

Guided Learning: 50

Captured Content: 6

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

In order to give students training in the research skills needed to plan and complete an independent and large-scale research project, this module includes a range of workshops which are compulsory for all students:

Indicative workshop content might include:

introduction and research methods

writing literature review


editing the dissertation

proofing and finalising the dissertation

Assessment Deadlines

Dissertation outline proposal submitted in level 5 (Year 2) or P (Placement Year) of the degree: [circa late March of the year before the Dissertation module commences].

Formative presentation: semester 1 of the year of the Dissertation module

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:
•    The development in their critical writing skills in analysing texts from a range of genres, periods and cultures
•    Student’s awareness of global and cultural issues, possibly including ecological and cultural sustainability issues
•    their understanding of the context of their work in historical and cultural terms
•    their development of research and writing skills, highly prized by modern employers
•    productive and informed critical reflection on both critical and political agendas of literary studies and on their own place within theoretical positions

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:
10000-word dissertation (plus completed Supervisor Log)

Formative assessment and feedback

The summative assessment is an opportunity for students to present their ideas critically and in a polished academic form, in an area of their choosing, engaging with literary (in its broadest sense) and critical materials and to demonstrate their research skills in determining and developing the literary, social and cultural context of their critical approach.

Verbal feedback and formative ‘feed forward’ is provided through one-to-one supervisor advice and feedback, as well as in special dissertation skills session seminar from tutors and peers. Students will have the opportunity to present samples of their work to the class in this context. Students are able to submit a 2000-word extract to their supervisors for written and verbal feedback (6 weeks prior to the deadline), which helps them better finalise their final summative assessment, i.e. the dissertation. As such, writing, presentation and critical analysis skills will be developed and honed which will feed forward to the summative assessment at the end of the module. There is the option of a range of other feedback mechanisms agreed between supervisor, tutor and students in week 1 of the module, such as seminar contribution and dissertation related writing exercises.


Module aims

  • The module aims to: give students the opportunity to pursue a specific interest in depth
  • help students develop the relevant in-depth subject knowledge required for their topic
  • facilitate students in appyling appropriate critical and theoretical awareness
  • help students develop the necessary methodology skills and self-reflective thinking
  • encourage students to develop and hone the ability to undertake independent research, analysis, critical thinking, writing and guided self-study
  • foster in students the skills needed to think self-reflectively about their own work
  • help students hone skills in time management
  • help students focus their research methodology skills specific to the individual topic
  • develop in students the ability to undertake independent scholarly research

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will have: Developed knowledge of, and the ability to analyse, a specific interest as a research area for their large project and the in-depth subject knowledge required for their topic by undertaking, with advice from their supervisor, independent critical research into their topic KC
002 Developed a high level of critical and theoretical awareness through the research process as well as the ability to think self-reflectively about their own skills and practices KCPT
003 Understand how to locate such analyses in their broader political, historical and socio-cultural cultural, historical, socio-political and environmental contexts K
004 Further developed their ability to research, interpret, and evaluate sources, debates, and ideas independently and as an independent researcher but also as part of a group of independent researchers as facilitated by the special dissertation skills session provided in both semesters, as well as have honed their skills in research methodology, independent learning and time and project management CPT
005 Developed further their ability to structure and communicate complex arguments in written form and gained further workshopping and editing skills, as part of the special Dissertation skills sessions provided, all of which will stand them in good stead in the final stretch of their degree of their degree and beyond as professional critics and writers and members of writerly communities and the literary industries, for example, as well as in a host of other employment roles in which these skills are highly desirable KT
006 Gained a critical perspective on the role of this literary genre in reflecting on and critiquing contemporary cultural, social, political and other discourses in specific relation to their chosen area of research interest though interaction with research materials and through discussion and feedback with their supervisor and with fellow dissertation researchers on the module CP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

replace with:

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

•    Hone and develop students’ critical skills in analysing texts from a range of genres: prose, fiction, poetry, drama, etc by developing their familiarity with a range of literary techniques and devices, as well as their confidence in using critical and theoretical language
•    Assist students in locating literary texts in critical and literary contexts by providing special dissertation skills sessions throughout both semesters aimed at addressing common and specific issues that arise in dissertation research
•    Bolster student resilience and resourcefulness in what can be an isolating learning experience through regular one to one supervision session with their supervisor and through the special dissertation skills sessions where both tutors and fellow dissertation research students will share encouragement, knowledge and experiences in the safe space of the workshop seminar setting.  Other additional session may also be made available such Dissertation Bootcamp sessions as required
•    Equip students with the research and writing skills they will need to produce critically informed analyses of literary texts and engage with literary criticism by developing their experience in drawing on their own critical thinking and by developing independent research skills through the special dissertation skills sessions and detailed supervisor feedback on writing samples. Also, students are encouraged to take advantage of academic writing workshops provided by the School.
•    Facilitate students’ productive reflection on both the critical and other agendas of literary studies and on their own relationship to theoretical positions by developing their ability to reflect clearly and in an informed manner on their critical goals and how they have attempted to achieve them, in planning, writing, rewriting and editing a large-scale project.

The learning and teaching methods include a combination of one-to-one supervision sessions with an allocated academic supervisor, special dissertation skills session seminars, captured content, guided learning and independent learning and includes opportunities in the schedule of interactive seminars for students to present their own to the class and respond to the work of other dissertation research students in a supportive, constructive and open manner.

Designed to help students reflect on and apply their learning to critical research and writing, the seminar environment acts as a safe space for developing and exchanging ideas, support, critical thinking and writing skills.

Students are encouraged, in presenting their research to consider varied materials such as, for example, lexical texts, visual materials, video and sound objects, etc with a view to increasing student accessibility.



Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELI3033

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas: 

Employability: This module requires students to deploy, and so strengthen, a variety of skills, all of which have transferable applications in real-world professional settings. Although supervised students for the most part work independently on projects that they themselves have conceived. They must therefore demonstrate independence and self-discipline in areas like time-management, research, writing-up, editing and proof-reading, so as to produce final assignments researched, written and formatted to a standard appropriate to a professional setting. At the research stage this will also usually involve extensive use of a range of digital archives, catalogues and resources, thus enhancing students’ digital capabilities.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: this module requires students to conceive and then pursue, for the most part independently, their own research projects. They must identify and articulate to their supervisors the originality of those projects; they must create and explore their own reading lists. They must learn to take constructive criticism from their supervisors and adjust their projects in the light of that formative feedback.

Global and Cultural Capabilities: Although the focus of each student’s final dissertation is unique, every completed dissertation represents a sustained, sophisticated and nuanced exploration of some aspect of literary culture, and/or culture more broadly conceived. An exercise of this length and sophistication also always involves a significant degree of self-reflection and increased understanding of the student’s own subject position and inherited cultural assumptions. The dissertation thus inherently enhances cultural literacy and the student’s capacity to think critically and sensitively about their own and other cultures.



Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature and Spanish BA (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with German BA (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and French BA (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature BA (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.