Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Dissertation Preparation and Professional Practice for Students of Art History
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Annotated Bibliography (Works Consulted) in MLA style  20 sources (incl. at least 50% print sources), 10 of which annotated (1,000 words)  25%
Semester Assessment Literature Review 1,500 words  25%
Semester Assessment Research proposal 2,500 words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Annotated Bibliography (Works Consulted) in MLA style  20 sources (incl. at least 50% print sources), 10 of which annotated (1,000 words)  25%
Supplementary Assessment Literature Review 1,500 words  25%
Supplementary Assessment Research Proposal 2,500 words  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. articulate career goals / research aims

2. access and assess academic sources online and conduct effective library research

3. develop a dissertation topic and sustain an argument

4. compile and annotate a bibliography in MLA style

5. review current academic literature on a chosen topic

6. write a research proposal

7. outline and paragraph effectively

8. incorporate researched materials through quotations and paraphrases

Brief description

This core module for Single Honours Art History and Single Honours Art History with Fine Art prepares students for the third-year Dissertation module.

It is designed to guide students through the process of developing the dissertation project from the early stages of a) exploring potential subjects and b) securing a supervisor to subsequent stages of c) renegotiating, revising and redefining the research topic and d) outlining and drafting the dissertation.

The module provides skills essential to written and verbal communication in an academic and professional context, including MLA style documentation and citation, outlining, proposal and CV writing, as well as presenting, negotiating and defending a research project.

The mechanics of academically sound writing, scholarly presentation and the use of appropriate resources, methodologies and patterns of organisation are conveyed through workshop exercises, projects and individual research/writing assignments.

By the end of the module, students will have defined a dissertation topic, begun an initial draft of their dissertation in consultation with the supervisor of their choice, and prepared a professional CV/cover letter.


1. Introduction: Being Professional
• Developing a viable academic persona
• Identifying personal research interests and setting realistic research goals
• Investigating globally and locally using online and material resources

2. CV Writing: Introducing yourself
• Summing up and highlighting an academic career
• Articulating research interests and identifying transferable skills
• Composing an effective cover letter

3. Boundaries: Mapping out the project
• Turning a general subject into a feasible dissertation topic
• Formulating a hypothesis (or working thesis)
• Anticipating challenges and obstacles in researching the project

4. Research: Reviewing the literature
• Assessing primary and secondary sources
• Following a prescribed documentation style (MLA)
• Annotating a list of Works Consulted

5. Proposal: Entering the discourse
• Anticipating and gauging reader responses
• Describing the project to others
• Approaching staff for research supervision

6. Research Writing: Working with secondary sources
• Quoting effectively, paraphrasing responsibly
• Describing, interpreting, critiquing and theorising
• Acknowledging and responding to opposing views

7. Composition: Arriving at an outline
• Establishing and sustaining a thesis
• Choosing suitable patterns of organisation
• Creating coherence through headings and paragraphs Individual tutorials (prior to Easter break)

8. Presentation: (P)reviewing the Project
• Summing up the research proposal
• Explaining the project to others (15-minute PowerPoint presentation)
• Providing and receiving constructive criticism

9. Presentation (part 2): (P)reviewing the Project
• Summing up the research proposal
• Explaining the project to others (10-minute PowerPoint presentation)
• Providing and receiving constructive criticism

10. Revision: Drafting the dissertation
• Reviewing the project in light of responses
• Expanding on central ideas and eliminating the nonessential
• Distinguishing between proofreading and editing

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Articulating ideas and stating research aims through A) seminar discussions, B) professional PowerPoint presentation, C) Dissertation Planner, D) annotated bibliography and E) academic research proposal.
Improving own Learning and Performance Managing time/meeting set deadlines, developing proofreading/editing skills. Conducting independent research.
Information Technology Retrieving sources (literature and digital images) from academic research portals and online databases
Personal Development and Career planning Preparing a professional PowerPoint presentation of the research project, outlining its aims and scope and demonstrating its feasibility. Developing a career profile, articulating career goals and gaining awareness of transferable skills. Composing a CV and cover letter.
Problem solving Developing, defining, negotiating and defending a research project in seminar preparation/discussion and individual tutorials. Drafting, editing, and revising various manuscripts (CV, cover letter, annotated bibliography, research proposal) Composing a Dissertation Planner to approach and secure a Dissertation Supervisor
Research skills Conducting research (online and in libraries/galleries). Assessing primary and secondary sources. Compiling and annotating a list of secondary sources.
Subject Specific Skills Although students work on their subject specific proposals in the fields of art history and/or museum studies, the emphasis is on broadly applicable and transferable professional skills.
Team work Participating in workshop activities in writing and editing, as well as in group discussions. Providing/receiving peer feedback.


This module is at CQFW Level 5