Cga dissertation proposal

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This is the pdf version of the Dissertation Proposal presentation for CGA and DFSA - this version also contains notes and links

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Cga dissertation proposal

  1. 1. These notes are adapted from a presentation given to Film Productionstudents – the requirements for CGA and DFSA Dissertation Proposals aremore flexible than may be indicated in this presentation – I will highlight anydifferences in the notes under each slide where appropriate! 1
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  3. 3. If you need inspiration try looking back at the previous assignments you’ve been setwhile on your course – look at the questions you chose not to answer, and look atyour notes to see if there were any ideas that maybe you didn’t include in your finalessay, or which you did use but felt you could expand on further.You don’t necessarily have to write about the specialism you hope to practise whenyou graduate – this might be your last chance to really explore any differentspecialisms that you’re also interested in.WARNING ABOUT USING YOUR FAVOURITEST DIRECTOR OR FILM OR GAMEAS A TOPIC: Sometimes the affection we have for particular films/directors/gamesetc. can blind us to the fact that they might not make ideal case-studies. Firstly, youcan’t just be gushing in a dissertation, you have to be critical too – do you really feelcomfortable about doing that to something you have so much affection for? Secondly,you’re going to be analysing that film/director/game repeatedly for several months –you won’t just be watching for enjoyment, as you may have done previously – willdoing this kill your enthusiasm for it/them? Thirdly, there are bound to be stageswhere your project gets difficult – this can happen in any project and it’s usuallytemporary, but be aware it can be much more demoralizing when you’re using subjectmatter that’s close to your heart. This is not to say that it won’t all be worth it in theend - in the long term you will get huge satisfaction from being able to understandyour film/director in so much more depth... however the research stage of adissertation may test your affections to the limit.Finally, don’t rule out the Library, and your Librarian, as a source of inspiration as theyhave resources for generating ideas as well as the heavy intellectual stuff.For more information about techniques and strategies for inventing ideas try clickingon the link for an in-depth guide provided by Dartmouth (if you’re reading a printversion of this presentation Google: ‘Dartmouth Coming Up With Your Topic’ and clickon the first result that comes up. 3
  4. 4. There are two ingredients needed for your idea – a case study (e.g. a film or adirector you plan to examine) and the theory/theories you plan to use withthem. You can either use general arts theories (Feminism, identity,postmodernism, etc.) or specific ones that apply to your discipline (e.g.Classical Hollywood Narrative, Direct Cinema, etc.).You will probably find that the precise choice of case study and theories willevolve together and every refinement you make to one will affect the other. 4
  5. 5. You may have been able to avoid serious ideas-development for previousassignments but your dissertation is simply too big and too complex for you toget away with that strategy now. A good way to promote creativity is toregularly alternate between viewing your case study and exploring the theory(don’t rely on your ability to recall one while investigating the other – if youread some of the book and then watch some of the film straight away you’llmake more intellectual connections). Even if you don’t quite see a connectionbetween the two, regular repeat viewings and readings will soon reveal thingsyou’ve never noticed before.Also, try using non-linear notes to help you establish more connectionsbetween the theory and the case study – if you don’t like mind-mapping tryusing post-it notes which you can constantly rearrange according to yourdeductions and observations.Finally, if you’re stuck on interpreting a theory (or case study), try using thecitations functionality of Google Scholar to see how others have interpretedthem (just don’t forget to cite these influences if you borrow from them!). 5
  6. 6. Here are some alternative techniques for ideas development – for moreinformation on how to do them just Google them. Then look for any websitesfrom .edu or .ac domains in the results, as these will be websites for Collegesand Universities. 6
  7. 7. YOU DON’T NEED A FULLY FORMED DISSERTATION QUESTION FORYOUR PROPOSAL... But it’s worth explaining now so you’re prepared for itlater on.Your dissertation title can either be in the form of a question or a statement.Either way it should summarize the central ‘quest’ of your research, and assuch should mention your case study, the theories you will be applying to it,and what direction it will be taking (along with any parameters/limits to yourresearch).You can probably tell instinctively when a dissertation title is good or bad butthis formula can help explain how and why. It may also help identify where anyweakness might be in your research area.Another good page from the Dartmouth website is linked on this slide, onceagain, if you can’t access the link Google ‘Dartmouth Developing Your Thesis’and click on the first result that comes up. 7
  8. 8. There’s no formal structure prescribed for your dissertation proposal, becausethe structure you choose will depend on the nature and subject of the topicyou’ve chosen. However, you do need to include the following components:Some sort of description of your chosen research area (possibly including atentative Dissertation Question), a discussion of the theories that are relevantto it, a methodology (i.e. how you will use the theories and the case study) anda bibliography. How formal you want to make your structure (and the order youwant to cover these components in) is up to you – however, whatever thestructure you must use Harvard-format referencing/citations and a Harvard-format Bibliography that’s located at the end of your proposal (and which is notincluded in your word count). 8
  9. 9. These figures are NOT prescriptive – the reason I used an arbitrary length of300 words for each section on this slide is that I want you to think about howshort a 1000 word essay is, and how concise you’ll need to be if you’ve got tosqueeze in a methodology, some explanation of your research area and somediscussion of the theories that underpin it. You may be at a stage in yourresearch where one of these areas is more developed than the others – inwhich case these sections may not be of equal length in your proposal. 9
  10. 10. Once youve determined that youre meeting the requirements of theassignment, youll want to get even more specific about what your essay saysexactly. One way to do this is to create a "backwards outline." (Its "backwards"because it is written after rather than before the draft itself.) To do this, simplyread your essay paragraph by paragraph. After each paragraph, determine themain idea of that section, and write the main idea in the margin of your draft. Ifyou find more than one significant idea in a paragraph, write them both down.When youre finished, read over your marginal notes (or "outline") and look forconnections - is there one central idea that each paragraph supports? If so,thats your main idea. If not, youll probably want to look for an idea that mostof the paragraphs support and consider dropping or rewriting paragraphs thatdont support your focus. 10
  11. 11. Your discussion of theories, sometimes called a Literature Review, is a surveyof the intellectual debate that relates to your topic. This serves two purposes:at one level it provides a rationale for your research (it supports yourdiscussion of the research area, in helping to justify why you’re bothering withthis topic at all). It does this by identifying if there are any gaps in currenttheory, if there are any disagreements between authors and if there are anyfaults or problems with particular theories (perhaps in relation to your casestudy). The idea is that hopefully your chosen research area and proposedquestion will set out to answer one or more of these anomalies.At another level it also serves to show your reader where your research sits inthe wider intellectual debates surrounding your research. As a result yourLiterature Review needs to give your research some context as well as somejustification.NOTE TO CGA and DFSA – you don’t need a distinct section called ‘LiteratureReview’ in your proposal – just make sure you include some of this intellectualstuff somewhere in there to help justify your choice of research area. 11
  12. 12. If you’re struggling with challenging the ideas and theories put forward by theauthors you’re investigating, try thinking of example films/games/genres/etc.that could reasonably be covered by those theories/ideas, but which don’tconform to them.You don’t need to just rely on the opinions of other authors to challenge atheory/idea – you can also use logic to disprove them. For a primer on usingcreating logical arguments Google ‘Dartmouth Logic Argument’ and click onthe first result that comes up. 12
  13. 13. Your Methodology covers How you intend to do your research. Once again,you don’t need a distinct section called ‘Methodology’ but you do need to coveras much of this stuff as you can. There might be practical reasons for yourchoice of case study or theory (e.g. not all the films by a particular directormight be on general release, or maybe you can only use a specific part of atheory because it’s too broad for a BA dissertation). Or there might be a seriesof assumptions that you need to define and explain in the dissertation toenable you to answer the bigger question you’ve set yourself. Or there mightnot be much literature on the theory you’re using, meaning that you’ve got toapproach the authors for an interview. Whatever it is, this is you’re opportunityto explain the practical stuff about how your dissertation is going to happen. 13
  14. 14. What constitutes an ‘annotation’? It depends very much on why a sourcemight be present in your bibliography or how you intend to use it. Just considerwriting a sentence or two underneath each reference to give your reader alittle context about it (e.g. why you’re using it, how you plan to use it, if/how itrelates to other sources in your bibliography, whether it’s a key text for yourdissertation or just a supporting theory, etc.). Your annotations don’t have to bedeeply intellectual – you’re just giving your reader a little bit of insight into theresearch you’re doing. 14
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