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Duy Anh Le fieldwork 5
Fieldwork photo (Duy Anh Le)

Dissertation Overview

One (full) optional paper may be replaced by a 12,000-word dissertation on a subject of the student's choice.

We expect incoming students who wish to choose the dissertation option to have formulated a research topic, as well as an outline of research material, before starting the course in October.

Incoming students who choose this option will also need to find a dissertation supervisor (different to your allocated academic supervisor) who can advise on your research topic. Please refer to the academic page to establish those academics who may be a suitable fit. Dissertation supervisors may also be chosen from outside of the Centre, as long as they are from a department or Faculty within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Students are strongly encouraged to contact the MPhil administrator (Dawn Bradley ) with this information before the beginning of the academic year.

Dissertations are submitted in Easter term.

Conducting Research 

Students who select the dissertation option will either choose to research exclusively via written or online texts, or choose to include data gathered by conducting interviews. Before commencing this research, students must ensure that they have the appropriate permissions in place:

1. All research carried out for the purpose of the dissertation must have ethical approval by the Ethics Committee prior to the student commencing research otherwise it cannot be used. The committee dates can be found here, and it is the student's responsibility to provide the correct research application to the MPhil administrator a week prior to the committee date outlined. The application needs to be reviewed and approved by your dissertation supervisor before it can be given to the Ethics Committee for final approval.

You are not permitted to commence research until approval has been granted by the Ethics Committee.

2. Students will also need to:

(a) make an application for Leave to Work Away if they are travelling to conduct research. This application is made via the student's CamSIS account

(b) complete a Risk Assessment to accompany their Leave to Work Away application. Approval is required from several committees, which will be assisted by your MPhil administrator.

More information regarding this can be found using the link in the next section below.


Which Ethical Application Do I Need to Submit?

To ensure you have chosen the correct application, a full break down of Ethics, along with a handy flow chart to help guide you to the correct application form, can be found here


Accessing Submitted Dissertations

Students are able to access dissertations submitted by previous cohorts at the Marshall Library, based on the Sidgwick Site. It is strongly recommended that students utilise this resource to get an idea of structure and content. These are available in hard copy only and are not available digitally. 


Finalising Your Title

Throughout Michaelmas and Lent term, whilst conducting your research, you will need to refine your dissertation title. Those who select the dissertation will be given several forms throughout the academic year to establish and refine your dissertation title. A form stating your final title is required before Easter term. The deadlines for submitting these forms can be found in the MPhil handbook. 


Additional Questions?

If you have questions regarding the dissertation at any stage, ensure you discuss these with your dissertation supervisor or your MPhil administrator. It is up to the student to construct a sensible schedule for researching and writing up their dissertation amongst submitting the assessed coursework required for the remaining paper choices. The dissertation is typically the last piece of assessed coursework to be submitted, with the deadline falling in mid May. Examinations usually commence the last week of May.