SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dissertation in Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

The dissertation is the final culminating piece of work for the MA in Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies. The dissertation of 10,000 words (excluding bibliography, appendices, tables, figures, etc.) is an extended essay based on an original piece of research undertaken by the student on a topic agreed with the MA convenor relevant to the aims and objectives of the degree programme. Students' dissertation projects bring together theory and method in a small-scale research project, the findings of which are analysed and critically explored.

Projects may include small-scale ethnographic research projects; library-, archive- or collections-based research; and other forms of empirical inquiry as agreed with the supervisor. Students are allocated a dissertation supervisor early in the second term. Students will normally receive three substantive supervisions of one hour duration with the allocated supervisor. The role of the supervisor is to assist the student in reaching an agreed topic of research, to approve the plan of work, help the student with problems that may arise, advise on sources, etc.


Pre-requisite module, Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies (core module) and co-requisite modules, Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology (15PANC008) and Approaches to Critical Interpretation and Aesthetic Theories (15PARC004) are required.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • demonstrate command of appropriate theoretical perspectives and secondary literature relevant to a chosen topic of study;
  • display the ability to frame research questions, consider relevant research design and explain methodological, epistemological and ethical issues related to a proposed research project;
  • employ the skills to pursue independent research from secondary and, where appropriate, primary sources in the field of museums, heritage and material culture studies;
  • show ability to organise their data and articulate their arguments coherently and clearly;
  • show ability to analyse research findings and write a critical review of findings.

Scope and syllabus

The dissertation is a supervised but largely self-directed piece of research and writing. Students draw upon and apply theoretical, thematic and methodological skills acquired in core, co-requisite and optional modules that they take as part of the MA in Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies.

Method of assessment

10,000 word dissertation.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules