The History Dissertation. Introductory session. Dissertation tutor: J Smyth. Main Features of the Dissertation.
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Wednesday to Friday, 14-16 and 21- 23 January 2015.
Sign up for a time slot outside room H328 to meet with DrSmyth and Dr Thomson to discuss your research progress.
You will meet in small clusters, deliver a short (5 minute) presentation of your work so far, and receive group feedback. You can bring a printed plan to distribute to the group if you wish. You will be engaging here in a process similar to that of the academic research seminar, in which you present a topic and argument and discover its strengths and weaknesses through discussion.
Your dissertation supervisor should be able to help you with this, once you have decided on a suitable topic and approach. You need to bear in mind that both secondary and primary materials are likely to be involved.
Secondary: Work in print (normally), such as articles in journals, essays in edited collections, books, and so on. You will need these to provide the background, to aid you in framing your research questions, your introduction and conclusion. The historiography of your topic is likely to be a significant part of the dissertation and this will come from the secondary literature.
Primary: Are far more varied. Some of you will be looking at a set of them in connection with your Special Subject; you may also have encountered examples elsewhere in your History modules. Primary sources might include: newspapers, memoirs, correspondence (published and unpublished), Parliamentary Papers, archival records relating to organizations and institutions (the Modern Records Centre on campus has examples of these which you can access via the University of Warwick Library website), literary texts (such as novels and plays), early modern political and religious tracts, contemporary medical texts, or oral and visual source materials (interviews, photographs, paintings etc.).
You can access information on the holding of the MRC via the University of Warwick Library website.
You must reference your material through footnotes.
Check on how to do this in the ‘Undergraduate Style Guide’.
Also, see how other historians use footnotes.
Proper citation is necessary to avoid any impression of plagiarism.
Do not include too many footnotes or make them too long, or use the footnotes to go off on a tangent. Although footnotes are not included in the word limit, you can be marked down for having over-long footnotes that contain material that could be in the main text.
Keep quotations in the text relatively short so as to leave adequate room for your analysis and interpretation. Or, if you think a long passage is warranted, make sure that you analyse it: don’t assume that its meaning and significance is self-evident.