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IBL Cafe Dissertation Support David Phillips

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  • 1. The Sociological Imagination SCS202 Extended essay and dissertation preparation
  • 2. What is the Sociological Imagination?
    • C Wright Mills The Sociological imagination is about linking individual experience with social institutions and one's place in history .
    • "neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both", so we need to develop a way of understanding the interaction between individual lives and society. The Sociological Imagination is the quality of mind which allows one to grasp “history and biography and the relations between the two within society".
  • 3. Departmental Mission
    • For all our students to graduate as ‘fledgling professionals’ in their chosen discipline.
    • E.g. no longer ‘sociology students’ but sociologists; no longer ‘social policy students’ but social policy professionals.
    • By the end of level three we [the academics] want to see you as junior colleagues.
    • How is this achieved?
  • 4. … by independent research!
    • Either through a dissertation or and extended essay
    • All single honours students must do a dissertation
    • Most dual students must do an extended essay
    • All other dual students can do an extended essay – and we hope that everyone does
  • 5. The challenge!
    • By far the hardest thing about a dissertation or extended essay is finding a title
    • Once this has been done the next step is to put together a proposal
    • Information on doing this is on Mole
    • Also discuss it with your tutor
    • But most of all you need to find something which interests you
  • 6. What is a dissertation / extended essay?
    • The dissertation will generally involve either:
    • The gathering of your own primary data.
    • The secondary analysis of data already collected.
    • The extended essay will generally be
    • a theoretical or analytical study. It will not, as a rule, include the collection of primary data though it may include analysis of secondary data or contain a small-scale empirical study if agreed with your supervisor.
    • You will need to identify a 'problematic' and develop your own argument through investigating it in depth.
  • 7. Dissertation /extended essay title
    • The title is very important. It acts as a focus for your overall project. You must avoid being too broad while also not being too narrow. Getting a title that is interesting (to both you and your supervisor) will help you produce a good piece of work.
    • Constructing a title is a process and will take you some time. Reading the literature and talking to your personal tutor or people in the department with an interest will help.
    • What does the literature tell us about the subject and what gaps exist in the literature? How will this study contribute to our knowledge on the subject under investigation? Reading around your subject early is very important.
  • 8. Dissertation: methods of investigation
    • You will need to think how you will investigate the question you have set yourself. Youmight want to use semi structured interviewing, a social survey, focus groups, observation, and different multi media techniques (for example, video, write and draw etc.).
    • You do not have to feel restricted to one method - we are keen for students to use a broad range of techniques and social skills. What is important is that you choose the most appropriate method for the question you want to investigate.
    • Talk this over with your personal tutor in the first place and then with your supervisor. Having a clear sense of what methods you intent to use at an early stage is very important.
  • 9. Managing the research process – dissertations and extended essays
    • Key areas that you need to be aware of :
    • Overall project planning
    • Time-management
    • The organisation of the material you gather
    • [for dissertations] Planning the various aspects of doing a research project, such as negotiating access, the practical details of fieldwork, accessing secondary data, and
    • [for extended essays and dissertations] allowing enough time for the analysis and writing up of your research, as well as organising the binding of your dissertation.
  • 10. Dissertation proposal
    • Title
    • Introduction
    • Literature Review
    • Research Questions
    • Methods
    • Ethical Considerations
    • Timetable
    • [not more than 3 pages]
  • 11. Extended essay proposal
    • Title
    • Questions or problems to be investigated/Background to topic
    • Sources and literature searching plan
    • Timetable
    • [no more than 3 pages]
  • 12. Higher Education Authority’s Guide to Dissertation link
    • Developed in partnership with the Higher Education Academy's Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics (C-SAP) and Sheffield Hallam University the 'Companion for Undergraduate Dissertations' is a guide which provides support and guidance for students to help them through the dissertation. http://www.socscidiss.bham.ac.uk/s1.html
  • 13. Contents of HEA guide
    • What is a Dissertation?
    • Getting Started
    • Help with Finding Literature and Research
    • Formulating the Research Question
    • Finding Appropriate Methodologies
    • Responsibility in the research process
    • Research Ethics
    • Supervision of the Dissertation
    • Writing the Dissertation
    • Developing Your Academic Style of Writing
    • Plagiarism
  • 14. Marking scheme for dissertation and extended essay 1
    • Originality in the choice of topics.
    • Delineation of the topic; the topic should be clearly presented and its wider significance made apparent.
    • Analysis of conceptual and theoretical issues.
    • Knowledge of the literature relevant to the topic and methodology where relevant.
    • Review of literature: clear and unbiased.
    • Inferences from and criticism of literature should be logical and coherent.
    • A rationale should be provided for the methodology employed.
    • The methodology should be rigorous and appropriate to the study [more important for dissertations].
  • 15. Marking scheme for dissertation and extended essay 2
    • [for dissertations] Technical and methodological problems and their impact should be described (reflexivity).
    • Presentation of findings should be clear.
    • Conclusions should be soundly based on the study and make reference to relevant earlier findings described in the literature review.
    • The structure should be easy to follow and appropriate to the topic discussed.
    • Writing should be clear and coherent.
    • The copies submitted should meet professional standards of accuracy and neatness.
  • 16. Marking scheme for dissertation and extended essay 3
    • Given the wide range of topics, the relative importance of these considerations may vary.  
    • A first class piece of work will deserve commendation in all the above respects. 
    • An upper second class mark will be awarded where, in addition to a good all-round competence, the student shows a degree of originality in one or more respects.
    • A lower second class honours mark will indicate either a good but not outstanding all-round competence or excellent but flawed work. 
  • 17. Topics: my supervisees this year:
    • Pets in old people’s homes
    • Male and female students’ responses to horror movies
    • Homeless men’s drinking
    • UK/Africa school links
    • Gap year agencies: rip off?
    • Social cohesion: Communal soap watching and eating together in student houses
    • Swimming clubs and quality of life