Dissertation Writing (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) 5-week course

A Dissertation is a long research report (it can be up to 20,000 words). This course is designed for Final Year Undergraduates and MastersĀ“ students. MastersĀ“ students may find it useful to take this course in Semester 2 because that is when many MastersĀ“ students usually have to start thinking about their dissertation.
The purpose of this course is to enable you to produce an effective dissertation/final project report, in accordance with British academic conventions. As well as learning about different parts of a dissertation/project report, this course provides an opportunity for you to consider different writing styles, and the importance of developing your own study skills. This course does NOT explain different research methodologies.

Please note: The learning outcomes posted below are a work in progress and are subject to change.

Themes and Learning Outcomes for the Autumn Semester (Semester 1). By the end of the course, students should have an increased awareness of:

Critical Reading and Annotating
Identify the structure of a discourse (text) in terms of rhetorical moves, e.g. presenting an argument, giving examples, commenting, explaining etc. based on lexical clues
Extract information from a text to support their thesis (reading with a purpose)
Make descriptive, summative and evaluative notes on and about a source

Functional & Evaluative Language
Use common evaluative adjectives, verbs and adverbs to comment on a topic or source
Use appropriate language to perform the following functions: describe, summarize, report, discuss cause and effect/consequences, conclude, recommend

Coherence, Cohesion & Signposting
Use an old-to-new structure (theme and rheme) to achieve coherence in writing
Use different cohesive strategies in their writing (pronouns/reference, lexical chains, synonyms, cohesive nouns, substitution and ellipsis)
Use appropriate markers/conjunctions to guide the reader through the structure of their text and their rhetorical moves

Paraphrasing & Summarizing
Construct appropriate paraphrases and summaries of a source text using different techniques.
Avoid plagiarism based on the above.
Evaluate the quality of a paraphrase.

Choosing Sources and Synthesizing
Evaluate the reliability of a source.
Use synthesizing in a literature review.

Themes and Learning Outcomes for the Spring Semester (Semester 2). By the end of the course, students should have an increased awareness of

Introductions & Abstracts
Identify the components of an introduction / abstract
Organise the components of introductions / abstracts
use appropriate language features, and tenses in introductions and abstracts.

Literature Review
Identify content and structure of Literature Reviews
Organize and present sources critically
Use appropriate reporting language

Methodology & Results
Describe experimental procedures and any modifications to equipment clearly.
Use appropriate tense and list markers.
Describe the statistical data of the results clearly
Make comparisons with present results and previous research

Discussion & Conclusions
Interpret, explain and justify own results
Identify component of the discussion and conclusion sections
Evaluate critically own research

Proofreading and research questions
Able to check their final draft for grammatical and lexical mistakes
Avoid common mistakes in academic writing (e.g. missing inflection; typos; fragment sentences etc)
Identify the purpose of and compose research questions.

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