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Dissertation (Research-Based or Practical Publishing Project) (EASM175)

StaffDr Kate Wallis - Convenor
Credit Value60
ECTS Value30
NQF Level7
Co-requisitesEASM176 & EASM177
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks; Term 3: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The dissertation provides you with the opportunity to synthesise and extend your knowledge of the publishing industry, as well as your methodological skills and research abilities.  You will examine in detail a topic that interests you through either through an extended piece of research or a practical publishing project.

If you pursue a practical publishing project you will submit a portfolio of practical work (this could take the form of a book, podcast, app, documentation of a live event, marketing campaign, a business plan or an extended piece of market research) alongside a critical essay reflecting on the process of developing the project and evaluating the final submission.

You are encouraged to develop and submit an initial proposal for the dissertation by the end of term two, positioning the research or practical project in relation to material explored through the MA Publishing programme. Once the initial proposal has been submitted, you will be assigned a supervisor with interests and knowledge appropriate to your chosen project who will provide practical advice and guidance. In term three, a dissertation workshop will  provide you with the opportunity to present and exchange work in progress, as you refine your plans and bring your research to completion.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Critically evaluate at an advanced level current research, discussions, and practices related to the publishing industry.
  • 2. Employ at an advanced level a variety of research techniques and methodologies, business models and industry practices appropriate to the field of publishing.
  • 3. Critically evaluate and revise your own academic work and publishing practice in the light of feedback from the supervisor and peers.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the current practices, formations, and debates related to the publishing industry.
  • 5. Demonstrate an advanced and autonomous ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas and concepts, and, where appropriate, historical materials and interdisciplinary intersections, tracing the development of debates across disciplinary boundaries.
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the relations and distinctions between the literary text as a physical and commercial object, and the literary text as an instance of creative production.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Through the dissertation proposal, presentation and the dissertation, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and to write clear and correct prose
  • 8. Through research for the dissertation proposal, presentation and the dissertation, demonstrate an advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 9. Through the dissertation proposal, presentation and the dissertation, demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to question assumptions, to distinguish between fact and opinion, and to critically reflect on your own learning process
  • 10. Through the planning and organisation of large-scale research or practical project, demonstrate independence of thought, confidence in developing ideas and asking critical questions, understanding of publishing markets and audiences and project management skills.

Syllabus plan

You are encouraged to begin to think about potential topics for your dissertation early in the year in discussion with your course tutors. You will develop an initial proposal by the end of term 2 before being assigned to a supervisor. During term 3 you will work with your supervisor to develop and bring your dissertation to completion. Supervision can take place in a range of formats (for example, face to face, online, or by phone). You will be responsible for working out a plan for supervision early in the process. 


  • Term 2: Beginning and Developing Your MA Publishing Dissertation
  • Term 2: Developing a Dissertation Proposal
  • Term 3: Work-in-Progress Dialogue: Exchanging and Refining Ideas
  • July and August: Two Optional Dissertation Cafés

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching12Workshops
Scheduled learning and teaching3Supervisions to be arranged by students
Guided independent study585Research, reading, and preparation of dissertation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Extended proposal / plan and written extract5000 words1-10Written feedback with tutorial follow up
Presentation10-15 minute presentation1-10Staff and peer feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Either: Research dissertation (100%)10015000 words1-10Written feedback
Or: Publishing project with critical reflection (100%)0Project / portfolio: equivalent of 10000 words Critical reflection: 5000 words1-10Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Either: Research dissertationEither: Research dissertation1-10Referral / Deferral period
Or: Publishing project with critical reflectionOr: Publishing project with critical reflection1-10Referral / Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative learning resources:


  • Baverstock, Alison. How to Market Books, 6th ed (2019)
  • Biggam, John. Succeeding with Your Master’s Dissertation: Step-by-step Handbook (2018)
  • Clark, Giles and Angus Phillips. Inside Book Publishing, 6th ed. (2019)
  • Da Sousa Correa, Delia et al, eds. The Handbook to Literary Research, 2nd ed (2010)
  • Nyika, Aceme. Postgraduate Handbook : A Comprehensive Guide for PhD and Master's Students and Their Supervisors, (2018).
  • Kara, H. Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences. Bristol: Policy Press (2015)
  • Knowles, J.G. and Cole, A.L. (eds). Handbook of the arts in Qualitative Research: Perspectives, Methodologies, Examples and Issues. London: Sage. (2007)
  • Potter, Stephne. Doing Postgraduate Research, The Open University in association with SAGE Publications, 2006.
  • Patriarche, G, Bilandzic, H., Linaa Jensen, J. and Juriši, J. (eds) Audience Research Methodologies. Between Innovation and Consolidations. Abingdon: Routledge (2014).
  • Pickering, M. (ed) Research Methods for Cultural Studies. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press (2008).

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MA Publishing, dissertation, publishing