The aim of this capstone dissertation module on the MA International Relations programme is to enable students to undertake a significant piece of independent research on a particular topic and/or region in international relations, international studies and global affairs. This module provides students with opportunities to: (i) apply their learning on the programme to analyse contemporary and ‘cutting edge’ problems and issues of relevance to international relations scholars or practitioners (or both); (ii) deepen their knowledge and understanding of a particular topic and/or region of interest to them; (iii) produce a complete piece of scholarly work from conception through to a final dissertation; (iv) further their independent research skills; and (v) make an original contribution with either theoretical or policy-making value, or both. The dissertation must demonstrate: (i) an analytical and critical approach to problem definition; (ii) the derivation of appropriate research questions, propositions and/or hypotheses; (iii) skills in selecting, designing and implementing a suitable methodology for gathering, analysing and interpreting data and information that address the research problem, questions and/or hypotheses; (iv) knowledge and understanding of literature and theory relevant to the area of inquiry, and the ability to apply it appropriately, and (v) the ability to write up and present the research as a dissertation in a way that combines academic depth and good scholarship with an appreciation of relevant practical and policy issues (as appropriate) in the chosen subject area/s.
A Demonstrate a substantial and systematic understanding of current and recent theory and research in fields relevant to the chosen research topic. B Critically evaluate and apply relevant theories to study the research topic. C Develop skills in conducting a research project through producing an appropriate research design, paying attention to research ethical considerations, collecting data through appropriate methods and analysing data using suitable approaches. D Demonstrate breadth and depth of understanding in a specific subject area in the field of international relations. E Present findings in a coherent and logical flow as a dissertation that conforms to scholarly conventions in the study of international relations. F Orally present an interim progress report on the research activities completed and planned. G Make a persuasive oral defence of the dissertation. H Think, learn and work independently whilst demonstrating initiative, responsibility, self-discipline, self-motivation, self-direction and originality in tackling and solving research problems in international relations.
There are several elements to the method of teaching and learning on this module. First, private and independent research is undertaken by the student with the support and advice of a supervisor from faculty (allocated by the Programme Director) during regular meetings and consultations that begin in the second half of Semester 2. It is likely that the supervisor will be from the Department of International Relations, although a supervisor from another department in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) may be allocated, depending on expertise. The role of dissertation supervisor is to support students during their dissertation project once the supervision is confirmed. Supervisors are expected to meet with their students and provide support in key aspects of the research project (including topic selection, literature review, research methodology and methods, data analysis and findings) periodically throughout Semester 3. The module leader will work with students and faculty to allocate supervisors based on the research proposal submitted for INR408 Advanced Research Methods for International Relations. Second, students are required to make an interim presentation around Week 3 of Semester 3. This will be an opportunity for students to receive feedback from HSS faculty and peers on their progress and next steps. Third, students will be required to submit a research dissertation that conforms to scholarly conventions at Master’s level. Finally, students will be required to make an oral defence of their dissertation after it has been submitted.