Dissertation in Cultural, Literary, and Postcolonial Studies

Key information

Start date
End date
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Module overview

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 component of the MA Comparative Literature (Asia & Africa), MA Cultural Studies, and MA Postcolonial Studies. Following on from the core modules on those programmes, and from the additional region-specific courses taken on them, the students will extend 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 approval of the supervisor and relevant programme convenor. 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 or further development of existing analyses, and the critical revaluation or re-interpretation of existing theoretical material with reference to Asia and/or Africa.

Method of assessment

  • 10,000 words, due September following final year of study (exact date determined by School) (100%)

Suggested reading

The reading list will based on the specific research topics of the student.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules