MSc Dissertation Module
Structure requirements of the Detailed Proposal – 1300-1500 words in total
The Detailed Proposal is developed from the Outline Proposal, which was approved by your supervisor for the relevance of the topic to the course of study and its suitability for Level 7 (i.e. postgraduate) study. The Detailed Proposal is a transition between the Outline Proposal and Chapter 1 of the Dissertation Report. It should be used by the student as a Project Initiation Document (PID) and can be referred to regularly (e.g. in supervisory meetings) when planning future work and when talking about the project to people who may not be familiar with it. Eventually it can be expanded and refined to form Chapter 1 of the Dissertation Report. The required elements (with a rough guide to word count) are listed as follows:
a) Front Cover of Proposal (not included in word count) without a page number.
Title of assignment (i.e. Detailed Project Proposal), module name, module code, full project title, MSc course enrolled on, student’s full name, student’s email address, date of submission, name of Project Supervisor. This will form (with a few amendments) the title page of the Dissertation Report. It is, in effect, a working title. Note that the eventual title should reflect the nature of the project and its artefact.
b) Contents Page (not included in word count).
Aligned correctly, ideally created using a standard Microsoft automated template, listing all the section headers (e.g. Introduction, Research Background, etc.) with corresponding page numbers. Figures and tables usually have their own tables. This will later become the basis of the table(s) of contents in the Dissertation Report, so it is important to get the format etc. correct at this stage. See format and checklist material on Blackboard.
c) Introduction/Synopsis (to Proposal) – 200 words
This section prepares the reader for understanding the proposal. It is an introduction to the proposal itself – not the subject area. It will become the Introduction to the Dissertation in Chapter 1. It should clearly indicate the motivation for the project.
d) Research Background (problem or improvement area) – 500-600 words
This section describes the topic area in which your work will be. It should begin relatively broadly and increasingly focus on a specific problem that you can solve or an improvement you can give (in less than 16 weeks). This will be expanded to form an important part of Chapter 1 of your Dissertation Report. Understandability based is critical in this section.
e) Research Question or Hypothesis – 50-100 words
This section marks the end focus of the problem or improvement area. It states a precise question that your Dissertation Project will answer or a specific hypothesis that will be tested by your work. Make sure you understand the difference!
f) Aim – 50-100 words
This should indicate the overall aim of the project – it should ideally cover the stages or phases of the project (e.g. research, analysis, development, validation, etc.) in one long sentence (probably with commas). You can highlight the key words in italics or bold text.
g) Objectives – 50-100 words
The Objectives should mark the stages of completion of the project and expand on each phase of the Aim. Objectives should be SMART
h) Deliverables – 50-100 words
Each Objective can only be satisfied by a Deliverable – an outcome that you are going to produce. Make sure therefore that the Deliverables match the Objectives and satisfy them.
i) Academic Challenge – 100 words
Your Dissertation is an advanced piece of work at Level 7 (Postgraduate). It should therefore set challenges that go beyond being a ‘Test of competence’. These will particularly involve research, reflection and critical analysis. Do some research on what ‘Postgraduate’ or ‘Masters-ness’ implies and show that you bring this out in this section.
j) Plan of Work – 100 words
To manage your dissertation project over 16 weeks you will need create a project plan using either Excel or Microsoft Project Gantt Chart. To produce a deliverable, you will need to break the project into a set of tasks. The tasks can be grouped (called work packages) for each of the various phases of your project and should be described briefly. At the end of each phase when completed is a milestone i.e. a checkpoint. Milestones can also be the hand-in (i.e. upload) dates and interviews (e.g. Midpoint Review and Viva dates). In the project plan each task will have a task name, duration (e.g. days), start date and finish date and graphical depiction (e.g. a bar). These tasks will be grouped under a phase/stage of your project and are given an appropriate name (e.g. Literature Review). This is an important section of the proposal, as with careful estimation it will tell you how long you have for each work package within the 16-week period.
k) Resources – 50-100 words
Each Task will need Resources to carry it out. These Resources could be hardware, software and its licences, access to sources of information or data or human expertise. The Resources should match the Tasks, which match the Deliverables, which match the Objectives. You should make sure that the resources will be available when you need them
k) Reference List
At this stage you should have done a little background reading and should know the basic sources of information that will underpin your work. At least fifteen referenced items will be included in your list of references and cited elsewhere in the Proposal. You must use Harvard Referencing Style as the standard.
For further assistance please review the Proposal PowerPoint Presentation and any other useful guides.
This Detailed Proposal will later be expanded and refined to form Chapter 1 of your Dissertation.
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