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Dissertation Workshop. Modules TAD 206 / TAD 207 School of Design Technology Agnès M.M. Lyons. Dissertation Handbook Location. The Short Loan Section of the University Library The Virtual Webpage The Library Catalogue: WebPac. Contents. Dissertation Information

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Dissertation workshop

Dissertation Workshop

Modules TAD 206 / TAD 207

School of Design Technology

Agnès M.M. Lyons

Dissertation handbook location
Dissertation HandbookLocation

  • The Short Loan Section of the University Library

  • The Virtual Webpage

  • The Library Catalogue: WebPac


  • Dissertation Information

  • Learning Outcomes & Assessment Criteria

  • Assessment Weightings: level of importance given to specific sections of the document

  • Grading Scheme: what constitutes the letter grades (A, B, C, D, E)

  • Dissertation Presentation: order of the different sections in the Dissertation

Dissertation information
Dissertation Information

  • Submission Date:10th January 2001

  • Number of Copies: 1 hard backed and 1 spiral bound typed copies (font size 11)

  • Number of Words: the main text (excluding bibliography, notes & illustrations) will be no less than8000 words long double spaced

Dissertation information1
Dissertation Information

  • Learning Outcomes: what you are expected to learn from the dissertation period

  • Assessment Criteria: the criteria against which you will be assessed, stating the requirements for each section.

  • Grading Criteria: the requirements for each individual letter grade

Dissertation information2
Dissertation Information

  • A List of dissertation titles can be consulted in the handbook and the actual dissertations can be found in the short loan section of the library.

Learning outcomes
Learning Outcomes

TAD 206

Upon the successful completion of the module, the student will be able to:

  • Select a topic of research which will test a hypothesis or provide an original interpretation

  • Apply the appropriate methods required to research a topic at secondary and primary levels and discuss creatively the appropriate commercial, stylistic, cultural, historical and practice-based knowledge in order to test the hypothesis critically.

  • Demonstrate a higher aesthetic awareness, objectivity, sensitivity, critical and intellectual ability in order to solve problems and propose solutions.

Learning outcomes1
Learning Outcomes

TAD 206

Personal Outcomes:

The student will have developed a suitable level of ability to:

  • Analyse, interpret and evaluate the knowledge collated in order to test the hypothesis in a professional manner orally, visually and in writing.

  • Demonstrate long-term participative commitment at the formative and summative stages and an ability to work independently.

Assessment criteria
Assessment Criteria

TAD 206

In addition to the general criteria for a written assignment:

  • Comprehensive and sound understanding of knowledge and contexts to test a hypothesis objectively, critically and with originality are evident. (learning outcomes A, B and C)

  • The appropriate research methods at secondary and primary levels to test the hypothesis and evaluate the findings are evident. (learning outcomes B, C and D)

  • The findings are communicated visually and in written form following the general criteria for dissertations in a professional manner. (learning outcomes D & E)

Learning outcomes2
Learning Outcomes

TAD 207

Upon the successful completion of the module, the student will be able to:

  • Be able to select a topic of research which will test a hypothesis or provide an original interpretation.

  • Be able to use appropriate methods required to research a topic at primary as well as secondary level to test the hypothesis.

  • Have an increased knowledge and academic understanding of the practice of design.

Learning outcomes3
Learning Outcomes

TAD 207

Personal Outcomes:

The student will have developed the ability to:

  • Analyse, interpret and evaluate the information collated.

  • Communicate findings in an objective fashion and in an integral manner following the general criteria for the dissertation.

  • Work to a scheduled plan, to a deadline, and be able to present a substantial piece of work in a professional manner.

Assessment criteria1
Assessment Criteria

TAD 207

In addition to the general criteria for a written assignment:

  • To select a suitable topic to test a hypothesis or allow original interpretation, and allow use of primary and secondary sources of research (learning outcomes A, B and D)

  • To implement a sound, critical approach and awareness of the implications of conclusions drawn (learning outcomes D and E)

  • To present evidence of knowledge and understanding of a subject, in a balanced, logical way within a well constructed framework (learning outcomes C, E & F)

  • To present research objectively in an accurate and comprehensive way, in an integral manner, to a high professional standard (learning outcomes D, E & F)

Assessment weighting
Assessment Weighting

Content 75%

  • 40% - Comprehensive and sound understanding of knowledge and contexts to text a hypothesis objectively, critically and with originality are evident. (learning outcomes A, B & C)

  • 35% - The appropriate research methods at secondary an primary level to test the hypothesis and evaluate the findings are evident. (learning outcomes B, C and D)

Assessment weighting1
Assessment Weighting

Form / Structure / Presentation 10%

  • The findings are communicated visually and in written from following the general dissertation criteria in a professional manner. (learning outcomes D & E)

Assessment weighting2
Assessment Weighting

Oral Presentation 15%

  • Participation in prescribed tutorials and seminars, self-reflection and oral communication of the findings to the students and tutors involved are evident. (learning outcomes C, D & E)

Grading scheme
Grading Scheme

To Be found in the handbook

Dissertation presentation
Dissertation Presentation

The order of sections within the dissertation are:

  • Title page

  • Acknowledgements

  • Abstract

  • Contents Page

  • List of Illustrations

    Dissertation Content:

  • The Introduction

  • The chapters with titles

  • The conclusion

  • The notes & references

  • The bibliography

  • Appendices if necessary

Title page
Title Page

The title page will display the following information:

  • The title of the dissertation (An example of the layout is in the handbook)

  • Below the title include the words:

    “A dissertation submitted in partial

    fulfilment of the requirements”

  • Name of the pathway

  • Name of the student

  • Names of the school, the department and university

  • The year and date of submission

  • The number of words: use the word count


This is only included where necessary:

  • Use this to thank people for the help you have received from them.



  • A short summary of the content, the aims and findings of the dissertation and a justification of the research methods and methodology used to investigate the topic

  • See the Dissertation Handbook and for fine art students:

    Sneider, Adam l., The Methodologies of Art,

    (Icon edition, 1996)

Contents page
Contents Page

The following is an example contents page:

Acknowledgements i

Contents ii

List of Illustrations p. no


Introduction p. no

Chapter 1 title p. no

Chapter 2 title p. no

Chapter 3 title p. no

Conclusion p. no

Notes and References p. no

Bibliography p. no

List of illustrations
List of Illustrations

  • List includes title, author and the provenance of illustration and is placed after the contents.

  • Caption under the illustration includes the title of the illustration only.

Dissertation content
Dissertation Content

  • Introduction:

    • Aims

    • Topics of research

    • Research approaches

    • Research methods

  • Chapters

  • Conclusion

  • Presentation / Delivery


  • WHAT?

    It will include the aims, the objectives of the investigation and the rationale of the research (background thinking, the methodology etc.)

  • WHY?

    It will include a critical dimension, a justification of the investigation I.e. it will demonstrate why you are investigating the issues, how it is important and what you will add to the overall picture.

  • HOW?

    It will include the appropriate research methods and a justification of these methods.



  • Choose one topic

  • Define the question to be discussed

  • Justify the purpose of the investigation based on what you have read, and / or previous learning experience

  • The combination of theory and practice is encouraged.

  • Focus on a narrower area within the topic selected

  • Demonstrate evidence, understanding and evaluation of relevant secondary material

  • Demonstrate evidence, understanding and evaluation of a body of primary material

  • Demonstrate the ability to bring both primary and secondary information together to answer the question.


Topics of Research:

  • See separate handout for a list of topics

  • See separate handout for examples of essay questions

  • See separate handout for purpose of evaluation


Research Approach:

  • Case study

  • Comparative analysis, thematic rather than chronological.

  • Contexts

  • Product based I.e. radial rather than linear study (material culture)

  • Practice-based (placements, work experience)


Case Study:

Advantages and purpose of adopting this approach:

It can be a placement experience, for example companies’ design practice related to rapid prototyping, experience related to the work for and with a design consultancy, investigate the role of the designer within a specific company, environment and/or ethical issues addressed by specific companies.

Stake E., The Art of Case Study Research


Comparative Analysis:

Thematic rather than chronological:

Benefits of adopting the thematic approach allows the viewers own culture to be seen as relative, a cross-cultural comparison allows what is common or unique, the shared characteristics and differences and different perspectives to be stressed. It allows the underlying unity to be discovered, stated or any patterns to emerge.



External factors affecting products will be examined. These contexts may be multiple and will vary according to the period and the product under investigation and examine how and object can acquire new meaning and significance within specific contexts when taken from its original context, place, space or time.


Product based:

To analyse products, through identification, evaluation, cultural analysis and interpretation. The approach is based on the material culture mode of investigation, an enquiry based on a type of concrete evidence (the object) as a non verbal record of people’s beliefs, values, habits, rituals, opinions, its correlation with personal / regional / global identity and values and concepts of diversity and uniformity. The object being viewed does not only reflect the social system and an intellectual concept but also gives form and meaning to the cultures discussed. (adopt the museum project approach in modules 120 or 216) This is a radial approach rather than a sequential or evolutionary approach.


Product based (contd.):

Miller, D., Material Culture and Mass Consumption,

(Blackwell, 1987) The Journal of Material Culture,

Sage Publication


Practice based:

The study can make use of experimental knowledge gained while on placement, in the form of a case study or of design.

  • The theory of evolution or the theory of relativity in relation to design and art can also be considered.


Research Methods:

  • Appropriate secondary sources:

    • Books

    • Reports

    • Journals

    • Magazines & Newspaper Articles

    • Internet

    • CD-ROM’s

  • Primary sources of information or references:

    • Oral history

    • Interviews

    • Survey / Questionnaires

    • Archival material such as diaries, letters or business records

    • Public Record Office Documents.


  • The dissertation will have a main argument running throughout

  • Each chapter brings in a new element to the dissertation

  • Each chapter had an introduction and a conclusion leading to the issues to be dealt with in the next chapter.


For Example:

  • Chapter 3 might conclude with these words: “Thus, we have seen the importance of a, b and c. However, these three factors tell us only part of the story. The following chapter continues our discussion by referring to a phenomenon, d, which historians traditionally have overlooked.”

  • Chapter 4 might then start with these words: “The importance of a, b and c is clear from the previous discussion. The role of d requires our attention now because without it, I will argue, a, b and c lack important contexts.

    J. Black & D.M. Macraild, Studying History, (Macmillan Press, 1997), chapter 8


  • It will demonstrate the importance, perspectives, overview of the topic, theme investigation, issues raised.

  • After having set out what you needed to do and having done it

  • Say what it is you have shown

  • Place this in the wider issues or debates of art / design if it is suitable.

  • What does it offer which is different from other perspectives

  • What is the value of your findings?

  • Is it possible to make wider or broader conclusions based on your findings?

  • What is emerging from the enquiry?

  • What you have uncovered may be open-ended and lead to new research, to be taken up by other students.

Presentation delivery

Written Presentation:

  • Style, grammar

  • Layout

  • Titles / Subtitles

  • Sources of reference, acknowledged accurately

  • Illustrations acknowledged and placed at the appropriate place within the dissertation with captions.

    Oral Presentation:

  • WHAT: content, research

  • HOW: delivery, communication skills, articulate ideas, opinions etc.

  • HOW: presentation: OHP PPT etc.


Follow the guidelines set out in the

handbook and this workshop module.

If in doubt, read the handbook

or contact your supervisor.