SOAS University of London

School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Dissertation in Postcolonial Studies

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

The dissertation is a core component of all Masters programmes at SOAS. The supervised dissertation research requires the ability to work independently on an original piece of research, to demonstrate familiarity with the relevant literature and present the resulting dissertation in a clear and organised format.

The research and writing of the Masters dissertation is a crucial component of Research-based Masters training. 

The dissertation has a 10,000 word limit and counts for 33% of the overall degree. For details on presentation and submission dates, see the Postgraduate Taught Masters Handbook.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, student should have:

  • The ability to apply their subject knowledge and methodology to a specific problem in their area of specialism;
  • The skills required to pursue independent research in an academic context;
  • The ability to present their work to different audiences in a clear professional form.


Total of 8 hours contact throughout the year consisting of up of 3 hours individual supervision and 5 hours of seminars.

Scope and syllabus

This module is a core element of the MA in Postcolonial Studies.  Following on from the core module on ‘Postcolonial Theory and Practice’ with reference to Africa, Asia, the Near and Middle East and from the additional region-specific modules taken on the programme, students will develop their regional knowledge with reference to theoretical and methodological frameworks taught in the core module. The topic of the dissertation is left to students to decide according to their interests and subject to the agreement of the Programme Convenor. Students are allocated a supervisor early in the 2nd term.   On the basis of supervised research, the student is expected to write a dissertation which:

  1. meets acceptable standards of academic writing and presentation
  2. shows a critical understanding of the relevant literature
  3. develops a focused and clear argument, supported by the relevant use of theoretical material and evidence
  4. makes an original contribution to the area of research. The original component of the dissertation can be achieved in a number of ways, among them, the presentation of new data/evidence, (re)analysis of further development of existing analyses, and the critical re-evaluation or re-interpretation of existing theoretical material with reference to Asia, Africa, and/or the Near and Middle East.

Method of assessment

  • Dissertation Outline (10%): day 1 (Monday), week 7 of term 2, students present main supervisor with a 2,000-word outline consisting of title, introduction, detailed main body, conclusion and bibliography
  • Dissertation Final Submission (90%): 10,000 words, due September following final year of study (exact date determined by School)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules