SOAS University of London

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy

Dissertation MA International Studies and Diplomacy

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

The dissertation is an exciting opportunity to study a subject that you get to frame, research and write about. The tasks involved are directly transferrable to a range of professional settings.
Here’s what our students think about the dissertation module.
‘My dissertation was the highlight of my MA: it allowed me to study something that I wanted to, in a way I wanted to’
‘The dissertation module was a great challenge; the support through the e-tivities in term 1, the tutors and then my supervisors was really valuable to me’.
Your dissertation studies last one year and culminate in the submission of a 15000 word dissertation, so the module begins as soon as your time with us does in week one of the semester. Through Term 1 students will be supported by dedicated Tutors through the VLE, and peer support throughout to complete a range of skills-based e-tivities.
Dissertation topics can be wide-ranging reflecting the breadth of Global Studies and International Diplomacy.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Completing a Master’s dissertation is a crucial component of postgraduate study. At the end of the module, students will have:

  • A solid foundational knowledge of their chosen research topic and its application across a particular area of international law, international politics, economics, international public policy, area studies (particularly relating to Africa, Asia and the Middle East) and contemporary diplomatic practice.
  • Developed the skills to pursue independent research from secondary and in some cases primary sources.
  • Learned how to organise their data and articulate their arguments coherently and clearly. 


An initial dissertation research proposal (1,500 words) is submitted in Term 1 (Term 1, Year 1 for Part Time students), allowing for the allocation of two academic supervisors (primary and secondary), followed by a 15,000 word dissertation which must be submitted by 8 September in the final year of study.
There will be an initial introductory class at the beginning of Term 1 (week 1), laying out the scope of the module and from there students will develop key research skills and an awareness of research methods, through these supported online activities, known as e-tivities.
Each student will have the opportunity for three 1hr supervision sessions with their primary and secondary supervisors.

Scope and syllabus

The dissertation is a core module of the MA in International Studies & Diplomacy; and will be taught through a variety of approaches.

The submission of the research proposal allows for allocation of supervisors by the module convening team and the supervision to begin (The allocation takes place annually in January, allowing approximately 9 months FT or 21 months PT 2 Yr). On the basis of supervised research the student is expected to write a 15,000 word dissertation which:

  • meets acceptable standards of academic writing and presentation;
  • shows a critical understanding of the relevant literature;
  • illustrates develops a focused and clear argument, supported by the relevant use of theoretical material and evidence;
  • makes an original contribution to the area of research.

The original component of the dissertation can be satisfied in a number of ways, among them, the presentation of new data/evidence, (re)analysis or further development of existing analyses, and the critical re-evaluation or re-interpretation of existing theoretical material with reference to the specific, chosen, area of study.

Method of assessment

• Assignment one – research proposal (1500 words); 15%
• Assignment two (15000 words); 85%


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules