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Ondemand Essay

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Core Characteristics of a Masters dissertation

A Master's dissertation is intended to test the candidate's ability to produce a reasonably substantial, original, and independent piece of scholarly work. The dissertation should also demonstrate the candidate's awareness and understanding of the relevant theories and schools of thought associated with the chosen topic. It should demonstrate the candidate's competence in seeking pertinent sources and effectively using them in relation to the topic in question. Some of the more important characteristics that the Examiners will expect to find exhibited in a dissertation of Masters standards are listed below:

1. It should represent a significant piece of scholarly work that would be recognised as such by other scholars researching in the field.

2. It should be an original piece of work. This need not necessarily be in terms of the topic itself, but might be in terms of the originality of the approach adopted to researching the topic, or in terms of the sources of information used. A case study in an organisation can be original.

3. The topic of the dissertation should be one that is clearly of relevance to the field of study and the author should produce a sound rationale for her/his choice of topic.

4. The work should demonstrate the author's ability to apply and integrate the knowledge and understanding assimilated during the taught phase of the course.

5. The work should demonstrate the author's awareness of the breadth of the literature in her/his chosen field of study and should demonstrate critical analysis of the relevant literature.

6. The work should demonstrate the student's ability to synthesize and analyse the information collected via desk research, empirical study or a combination of the two.

7. The author should locate the dissertation in relation to previous research in the area and should show how it adds or differs from the existing body of knowledge.

8. The work should demonstrate the selection and application of appropriate research methodologies to the investigation of the topic.

9. The work should demonstrate the student's ability to produce clear and well-argued conclusions based on the data collected, and to expose the limitations of data.

10. The audience for the work is the Board of Examiners. It should not be addressed to a client or organisation. A consultancy project may need to be written up in a different way for the client.

11. The work should be addressed to a 'general informed reader' rather that to an expert in the subject and its academic frame of reference.

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