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BA Liberal Arts Dissertation


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Grace Halden
  • Assessment: a 7000-word dissertation (100%) and progress portfolio (0%)

Module description

The dissertation is undertaken in your final year and consists of a progress portfolio of five tasks leading to a 7000-word extended essay. You are required to submit a brief project proposal usually in the first week of summer term in your penultimate year of study. You will then be allocated a dissertation supervisor.

You should expect to spend a minimum of 50 hours working on this dissertation across the course of the year. Your supervisor can offer you three hours of supervision, and will read and comment on up to 2000 words of a first draft. Starting in the spring term prior to your final year, there will also be a programme of support meetings for all students taking the dissertation, led by the module convenor.

The dissertation is an opportunity to work in depth on a particular theme of your choice. It might be understood as the culmination of your work at Birkbeck, for it offers you the opportunity to work, semi-autonomously, with the skills and knowledge that you have acquired here. You may wish to go into more depth on a topic encountered on the BA Liberal Arts programme, or to take the opportunity to establish links between the various components of the programme (although this is not compulsory) by selecting an interdisciplinary topic - philosophy and film, the literary text as historical document, the politics of language acquisition, and so on. Alternatively, you might also enter into a completely new area of research, backed up by the skills in research, methodology and writing that you have acquired during the degree.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • consolidate and develop the research skills you have acquired at Level 5, with the guidance of a supervisor
  • plan, research and structure the argument of a substantial piece of writing
  • identify, discuss and assess the secondary literature relevant to your topic, and position your own research in relation to it
  • demonstrate skills in independent research
  • demonstrate skills in planning and time management.