Undergraduate Major Project
The chosen topic will require you to:
• Identify/formulate problems and issues
• Conduct literature reviews
• Evaluate secondary information
• Investigate and adopt suitable methodologies
• Determine solutions
• Process secondary data
• Critically appraise and present findings using appropriate media.
What is required in a dissertation or project?
The learning outcomes indicate that you will be expected to demonstrate some or all of the following:
• Evidence of scholarly research. Examples are using search facilities in the library (CD ROMS, book and journal indices etc.), and showing evidence that sources have been located and sensibly used. Material obtained from sources such as news reports, online discussion forums etc is another possibility.
• Evidence of independent thought. This can be provided by comments on the theories and opinions of scholars, commenting on secondary data etc.
• Interpretation of evidence. Pure description of an event, situation, opinion etc. without explanation or analysis is not sufficient. Similarly; quotations in your dissertation should not be used simply for their own sake. One way of using them is to support a particular viewpoint or argument. You are not rewarded simply for reproducing the words of other writers. If tables are included make sure that you give the source of the data and that you use them (to support an argument, comment on a theory etc.). It cannot be emphasised too strongly that mere description alone is not sufficient – you must analyse, evaluate, or interpret your data and information.
• A conceptual understanding of the topic chosen, using an appropriate theoretical framework. Thus, when choosing a topic, students should remember that a central purpose is to allow the application of appropriate theory.
• Clarity and lucidity of argument and expression in the presentation of your findings. This aspect is very important, but it can present special difficulties for students whose first language is not English. Here we are not looking for perfection in either grammar or sentence construction, but examiners must be able to understand what you are trying to say.
• Competence in the use of bibliographies, footnotes or other referencing, and other appropriate skills. Some guidance on this is presented later.
What is the word limit?
The maximum length of the undergraduate dissertation is typically 10,000 words, or equivalent. There is no minimum length, but you should write enough to demonstrate that you have achieved the aims of your dissertation or project; however, it is unlikely that this can be done in less than 9,000 words.
Note: The maximum number of words does not include footnotes, the abstract, the bibliography, indented quotations, appendices and tables.
What is the required format?
• Your dissertation must be written in English in typescript form on A4 paper. Your name must not appear on the dissertation. You must submit one hard copy of the dissertation to the iCentre and one digital copy through Grademark. Both the hard copy and the digital copy are required (to enable double blind marking by two markers) – if you submit only one of them, it will be considered a non-submission. It is also advisable to retain a copy for your own records. Please note submitted dissertations will only be returned in cases of failure.
• When you submit the copies of your dissertation you may be asked to submit, either on disk, using Word, or in manuscript, your working papers which have formed the basis of your dissertation; for example, copies of articles, working notes and summaries, completed questionnaires and tapes or notes of interviews. These may provide the basis for a viva voce should that be necessary. These will be returned to you after the assessment process is complete.
• The cover sheet of the dissertation must include the following declaration: ‘I declare that the above work is my own and that the material contained herein has not been substantially used in any other submission for an academic award’.
• The dissertation must be prefaced by an abstract. This is not an introduction but a summary which outlines the plan and argument of the dissertation. It should include brief details of the methodology employed. The abstract should not be longer than 300 words. It should be included immediately after the title page and it will be examined as part of the dissertation.
• A list of contents, such as the glossary, chapters, and appendices – with page references – should be included at the front of the dissertation.
• Pages should be numbered and double-line spacing used.
• Your dissertation must be held together in a suitable spine binder with a disclaimer page which will be available in Appendix 7 and on your VLE.
• Diagrams, figures, tables, and illustrations should be incorporated into the text at the appropriate place, unless there is a series of them or they are continually referred to throughout the text. In this case they should be placed in appendices at the end of the work. You are advised to use a drawing package for diagrams and scan in other illustrations.
• The work of other authorities must be acknowledged. When quotations or general references are made they must be suitably referenced by using the Harvard system.
• Appendices should not contain material which is not used or referred to in the text. Similarly, illustrative material should not be included unless it is relevant, informative, and referred to in the text.
• A bibliography should be included at the end of the dissertation and should list, alphabetically, all the sources (including magazines and newspapers) that you have consulted. Books should be listed as: Author (surname then initials); date, title, edition, publisher. Other sources such as journals, magazines, and newspapers should be treated in a similar fashion. If sources are used which are not written in English then the English translation is required in the bibliography.
Set out on a page of its own immediately after the title page. The abstract is likely to be the last section to be written. It is a short (300 words maximum.) summary of the project (not an introduction) and should indicate the nature and scope of the work, outlining the research problem, key issues, findings and your conclusion/recommendations
Table of Contents
An outline of the whole project in list form, setting out the order of the sections, with page numbers. It is conventional to number the preliminary pages (abstract, table of contents) with lower case Roman numerals (i.e. (i), (ii), (iii) etc.) and the main text pages (starting with the first chapter) in Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) as shown below.
List of Tables i
List of Figures ii
List of Abbreviations iii
Chapter 1 (Title) 1
1.1 (First Section heading)
1.2 (Second etc.)
List of tables and figures
You can present a list at the beginning of your dissertation/ project of the tables and figures you have included.
A table is a presentation of data in tabular form; a figure is a diagrammatic representation of data or other material. Tables and figures should be clearly and consistently numbered, either above or below the table or figure. Each table and figure should have a separate heading (caption). The reader should be able to understand what the table or figure is about from this heading / caption without referring to the text for explanations. The numbers of the tables and the figures you use in the text and in the lists at the beginning should correspond exactly.
Main body of document, appropriately structured (this structure may vary depending on the nature of your dissertation.)
Bibliography / References
Appendices (these should only contain material which is genuinely supportive of the argument in the main body of the dissertation).
The use of references can cause difficulties. You must use the Harvard System of Referencing. The essence of this system is that whenever you quote from a primary or secondary source you add in brackets, immediately after the quotation, the surname of the author, the year of publication, and the page reference
Example of Harvard referencing
Carter persisted with the ‘responsible’ import based recovery programme, hoping that the Germans and Japanese would ultimately follow their example. As a consequence of this policy the US trade deficit increased from $9.5 billion in 1976 to $31.1 billion in 1977 (Stein 1998, p159).
(Stein 1998, p159) would appear after a direct quotation, or as in this case, the presentation of an idea. Direct quotes of more than 30 words or so should be indented on either side.
In my view, and notwithstanding some of the really important theoretical insights and results that the concept has generated, there are problems in trying to apply the concept of utility that have not had the attention they deserve. However, economists are now beginning to take more interest in the extent to which psychological evidence can inform the development of economic models.
(Anand, 2006, p223)
All books etc. you have cited in the text are listed in a reference list at the end of the dissertation in alphabetical order: author, initials, date, title, place of publication, publisher. Stein would thus appear as:
Stein, J (1998) The Locomotive Loses Power: The Trade and Industrial Policies of Jimmy Carter; in Fink, G & Graham, HD (eds) The Carter Presidency: Policy Choices in the Post New-Deal Era, Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas.
Note that this is a chapter in a publication edited by someone else. The full volume also needs to be cited thus:
Fink, G & Graham, HD (1998) The Carter Presidency: Policy Choices in the Post New-Deal Era, Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas.
Note the use of italics in these two examples. It is always the title of the book that is italicised.
If there is more than one book, journal article etc. by the same author your references will normally be distinguished by the year of publication. If the author has published more than one work in the same year, show them as 1992a, 1992b etc.
Ensure that your document is spell-checked and pay particular attention to grammatical and punctuation errors.
Good scholarship, referencing and academic misconduct
In your project, as with all academic work, you will be expected to demonstrate a high standard of academic referencing. To recap, this is for three reasons:
1 To show the breadth and depth of research you have carried out (i.e. get good marks!)
2 To enable the reader to follow up on interesting ideas/research that you have discussed.
3 To avoid being accused of plagiarism.
As a level 6 student you should know all of the following information, but experience tells us that it is useful to include a re-cap.
What is good scholarship?
Academics (including you!) are engaged in the generation of new knowledge and insights that contribute to what we already know about the natural, supernatural and social world – this is called ‘scholarship’. Good scholarship is the result of conventions that help the readers of academic research to see exactly what is new, what is the work of others and how it all fits together – the main way this is done is through the referencing system.
Put simply, authors (including you) need to make it clear what are not their own ‘new’ ideas, by adding a citation after every idea or set of ideas they write about that are not their own. There are several different ways of doing this that have evolved from different academic disciplines (just as there are lots of different world languages). In the Business School we use the Harvard Referencing System.
An excellent resource about referencing
We suggest that you select ‘in depth’ mode from the drop-down menu on the bottom left of the page.
What do I reference?
As the above section suggests, you should attribute all your sources regardless of the medium the material comes in (e.g. You Tube video, journal article, blog, radio programme, book chapter etc.) There is a general rule of thumb that says that which is ‘common knowledge’ does not need to be referenced, but of course, what counts as common knowledge? So-called ‘common sense’ hides many assertions and prejudices that good quality academic work should seek to expose. A useful technique to use if you want to include general assertions is to use constructions like:
‘Arguably,’ or ‘It is reasonable to assume…’
But do take care, even assertions need some justification in the text to be credible.
It is also a good idea to completely avoid cutting and pasting text from the internet, even if you correctly enclose a paragraph in quotation marks and add the reference underneath, you are unlikely to get many marks since this is not your own work and does not demonstrate your understanding.
Quotations are good to see, but use them judiciously for the above reasons. If you can say it just as well yourself, write it in your own words and add the citation at the end of the sentence / passage.
You need to include page numbers for all direct quotations.
A useful reference, particularly with regard to referencing new electronic sources is at the following:
If your supervisor and marker suspect the work may not be your own, then you may be invited to discuss your work in a viva voce (verbal exam). The details of this will be issued to you if required.
You are required to use the following format:
• Use A4 size paper only.
• Type doublespaced. (You may want to use single spacing for indented quotes, footnote materials and the bibliography).
• Use one side of paper only.
• Margins should be approximately:
o 3 cms on left hand side of page to allow for binding.
o At least 1 cm on the right hand side
o 3 cms top and bottom.
• Pages should be numbered in a single sequence from the contents page onwards.
• Short quotations can run in the text within single quotation marks (double quotation marks reserved for quotations within quotations). Quotations longer than about 30 words should be set in from the side of the page (normally the indent should be more than the paragraph indent).
• Always write in complete sentences. Do not resort to note form.
• Do not use abbreviations in the text unless they are for the organisations documents etc which are commonly initialised or referred to by acronyms eg. BBC
• All abbreviations must be explained when they first appear and included in the front of the document following the contents page and the list of tables and figures.