Dissertation preparation – BA (Hons) Community Education

Honours, Lecture, Reading, Research, Thesis, Workshop
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School Community Education Programme, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh
Module Title and Programme Dissertation preparation, part of the Honours Dissertation two-semester course, BA (Hons) Community Education
Level 4th year (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 10)
Initiator Community Education programme and Institute for Academic Development (IAD), University of Edinburgh


The Honours (4th) year of the BA in Community Education, which was previously optional, is now compulsory for all students and includes a dissertation. The programme offers a professionally endorsed qualification and recruits a high proportion of mature entrants and other candidates with non-standard qualifications; a number of students were concerned about doing such a large and independent piece of academic work at Honours level.

A Dissertation Preparation course was already in place, which covered theoretical aspects, topic choice, approach, methodology and so on, but did not directly address the complex study skills and strategies that students would also need.

The aim of this initiative was, therefore, to develop and integrate into the dissertation preparation taught classes in semester 1 additional sessions to:

  • directly address students’ concerns about the process of doing their dissertation
  • increase students’ confidence in their ability to do this successfully
  • develop students’ existing study skills / approaches and introduce new ones to help them tackle their dissertations effectively and successfully
Description of Initiative An IAD study development advisor (SDA) worked with the programme to develop, co-teach and trial four sessions over two academic years; the programme has now taken complete ownership and the classes are integrated into the dissertation preparation course.
This approach allows Study Development to work with Schools in a way that is sustainable, given our small number of study development advisors.The classes are:

  • Managing the dissertation process
  • Reading as research
  • Shaping questions and writing well
  • Structuring your dissertation
Assessment For the course as a whole: successful proposal submission and assessment of the final dissertation.
Ideas for adapting

The materials can be adapted to fit into any dissertation preparation course that already has a methodology component.

The approach may be useful at other institutions where learning development colleagues are few in number and do not ‘face’ or work in specific departments.


The session outlines /materials can be downloaded from links below:

Managing the dissertation process

Reading as research

Structuring your dissertation