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Specialist Study - Dissertation

1. ITS VALUE

The dissertation is worth 40% of your overall award—so it’s important to take it very seriously.

2. EXCLUSIONS

Authors, texts and topics that are central to your work in one component of course assessment (for example, Literary Study) may not be used in any other component of course assessment (for example, your Specialist Study Dissertation). You will be required to record your Specialist Study Dissertation texts and topic on your answer booklet.

3. WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO

You have to make an independent study of and produce a dissertation on an aspect or aspects of language or literature or media or some combination of these.

4. SELECTING TEXTS AND TOPICS

The first stage in the process is the selection of texts or topics and the formulation of a brief descriptive statement of what you propose to study. This proposal must be approved by your teacher or lecturer in order to ensure that the materials are appropriate to an English course and worthy of study at this level and that the study itself is manageable. Your study should explore a limited area and examine it in detail with lots of appropriate supporting evidence.

It should be noted that texts and topics:

You should select a topic that will enable you to offer a full exposition and discussion of a particular aspect your chosen field of study. For example, a literary theme might be pursued through the works of a single author, or works of several authors, or over a historical period; a language topic might focus on language acquisition, the dialect of a specific locality, the language of specialist groups; a media topic might be related to the study of language or of literature.

Studies of the works of a single author or single works by two or more authors should avoid a serial treatment in which each work is left isolated from the other(s). Studies that involve the collection and analysis of data and information should be presented in discursive form.

5. THE PRODUCTION OF THE DISSERTATION

Clearly, production of the dissertation will vary from candidate to candidate and from centre to centre.

In most cases, however, your teacher or lecturer will:

You should:


Advice on the presentation of your dissertation

 

Title page

Your title page should include:

 

Style

If word-processed, your dissertation should observe the following conventions:

 

Citing references in the body of your dissertation

Footnotes should be kept to a minimum and numbered sequentially from the beginning to the end of your dissertation.

 

Listing sources in your bibilography

You should take a fresh page for your bibliography.

 

6. LENGTH

The dissertation you produce must be between 3500 and 4500 words in length, including quotations but excluding footnotes and bibliography. You should note that, in order to achieve consistency in this area, any dissertation that falls outwith these limits of length will not be accepted. You must indicate on the dissertation flyleaf the actual number of words used.

7. PLAGIARISM

While you should of course consult secondary sources, you must be careful not to rely on them excessively and you must never copy them without acknowledgement. Always remember that to plagiarise is to cheat—and this could lead to your disqualification from any award. Markers are instructed to report all instances where plagiarism is suspected for further investigation (so be warned!).

8. THE STANDARDS REQUIRED

Read the Advanced Higher English Specialist Study marking instructions. They should help you to see clearly the difference between a dissertation that is acceptable and will pass and one that would earn you top marks.