• Module introduction and key questions
The dissertation module enables you to bring all that you have learnt during the course together to complete a research project of significance in a 15,000 – 20,000 words long dissertation. You are recommended to develop your understanding of the same professional challenge throughout the course.
You are encouraged to develop your work from previous modules when writing your dissertation. Any work from previous modules, that you refer to in your dissertation, will need to be carefully referenced to avoid plagiarism of yourself which can be detected when the dissertation is run through turnitin.
You may like to consider the impact of the findings and recommendations of your dissertation research, and how potential impacts may be sustainable and part of a self-improving process within your educational institution. You will be encouraged throughout your course to record your learning in your Personal Development Portfolio and reflect on how your learning and the impact of your research equips you to enhance Organisational Effectiveness, Improvement and Transformation in your educational institution, and secure a promotion in educational leadership.
There is no fieldwork required in modules other than the Organisational Effectiveness, Improvement and Transformation (ED 7588) and the Dissertation (ED 7500) modules. The plans for fieldwork in module ED 7588 have been considered suitable for General Exceptional Ethical Approval. Therefore, assuming you follow the suggested procedures, your fieldwork will be covered by the University. In the dissertation module you will be undertaking projects which are individually designed and you will therefore need to apply for Ethical Approval individually. This needs to be undertaken online during the first four weeks of the Dissertation module. Further details on how to gain this approval is included by clicking on: ‘link to gaining ethical approval’ found on the left hand menu of the Revised MSc Educational Leadership Blackboard site.
No data should be collected towards the dissertation study without having first gained Ethical Approval. Please click on ‘link to gaining ethical approval’ in the menu on the left on the Revised MSc Educational Leadership Blackboard site for full details regarding applying for online ethical approval to conduct your research for your dissertation.
In many respects, the dissertation is planned through the Research Methods assignment and enables you to bring together your prior learning on the course . The feedback that you will receive from your tutor will allow you to develop and focus your research ideas more fully. It is very likely that you will revise and develop your review of the literature and your methodology sections in response to your tutor’s comments.
Much of the good academic practice that you will have developed as a result of completing the earlier module assignments will need to be put into effect here and we recommend that you review the feedback that you received on these submissions. We also recommended that you refer to section 3 of this study guide) for further advice on the technical elements of your final and most significant piece of work.
The following table provides suggestions of general sections for the dissertation and approximate word counts for each section. The wording used for sections in this table makes reference to the mark scheme for the dissertation, rather than being recommended wording for section headings within this assignment. It will be particularly important to the readability of the longer dissertation assignment to use meaningful headings and sub-headings to support the writing.
Section Approximate word count
Literature review 4,500-6,000
Research methodology 2,500-3,000
Presentation of the dissertation should be as suggested above with a consideration of the additional technical points listed below:
• The dissertation should be 15,000-20,000 words long.
• It must be word processed (double spacing).
• Inner margin: 35mm; head, foot and outer margins: 15mm minimum.
• The title page must include the full title, the degree, the year of submission and the student’s number.
• A list/table of contents should be supplied at the beginning.
• Include the ethical approval confirmation you receive in your dissertation.
• References should follow the Harvard System. If reference is made to a previously submitted assessment, it is carefully referenced and the majority of the assessment to be submitted is original, and demonstrates progression in the approach to, and engagement with the professional challenge.
• Footnotes should not generally be used but where essential, they should stand at the foot of the relevant page.
• The references should follow the text and all appendices should follow the references.
• A separate abstract of not more than 500 words should be provided. Guidance on how to write a suitable abstract can be found in Section 3 The good dissertation guide found in the Student Study Guide in the resources section of the Revised MSc Educational Leadership Blackboard site.
• The institution in which the research was conducted should be anonymised throughout as well as in appended materials.
• Submit an electronic copy of the dissertation as per instructions on Blackboard.
(‘A’ grade dissertations will be retained in the library.)
The word count of the substantive text (excluding that associated with the contents page, reference lists and appendices) should be included.
Please see Section 3 The good dissertation guide found in the Student Study Guide in the resources section of the Revised MSc Educational Leadership Blackboard site.
• How are you applying the feedback from your assessments to develop your dissertation, particularly the feedback from the Research Methods ED7589 4.2, which is effectively a dissertation proposal?
• How are you mapping your data collection tools back to the themes in your review of your literature, which map back to the research questions, which maps back to the aims of your research and the professional challenge?
• To what extent is it helpful to link the subheadings of your findings section to the subheadings of your literature review which map back to your research questions, to help you remain relevant throughout your dissertation and to assure you address your research questions in a meaningful and worthwhile way?
• To what extent do your conclusions sum up the main body of the text?
• Are you offering two or three Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound recommendations, and can these connect to your institution’s Self Evaluation Plan such that your philosophical inquiry into an aspect of educational leadership becomes embedded in organisational effectiveness to improve education.
• Are you marking your own dissertation using the marking criteria and the MSc Grading System and sending this to your tutor when you send them your draft dissertation for feedback? This will allow your tutor to understand how you are interpreting the brief, marking criteria and the MSc Grading System when they provide you with feedback on how to improve your dissertation.
• Learning outcomes
Research Skill Outcomes
LO1:Evaluate appropriate methodological approaches in relation to their chosen research focus
LO2: Review and evaluate literature relevant to their chosen research focus.
LO3: Create a feasible research proposal. RM LO 1. identify, plan, implement and critique investigations aimed at addressing issues and problems in their own institution (Problem solving, Research skills);
LO5: Structure and organise reporting of their dissertation appropriately RM LO2: Demonstrate knowledge of how to collect and analyse data in ways appropriate to their chosen research focus.
LO6: Present written work to a professional standard (Communication);
LO7: Seek out, find, use and exchange information from a variety of sources to support their own studies and as a contribution to investigating and developing professional practice; RM LO3: Demonstrate that their research study was carried out ethically.
LO8: Demonstrate a commitment to personal/career development (Career management);
LO9: Demonstrate leadership (working relationships).
• Study programme
The study programme is a provisional timeline and you are recommended to discuss your timeline for developing your dissertation with your tutor, including when you plan to send drafts of chapters, or the full draft of your dissertation to your tutor for feedback.
Weeks Activities Learning Outcome Assessment tasks
1-2 Prepare your ethical approval by developing your research design in light of the feedback from your dissertation proposal assessment ED7589 4.2. LO3: Create a feasible research proposal.
3-4 Apply for Ethical Approval RM LO3: Demonstrate that their research study was carried out ethically. Gain ethical approval from University of Leicester to conduct your research. No data is allowed to be collected until you have gained ethical approval. Please follow the ‘link to gaining ethical approval’ found in the menu on the left.
5-6 Please read two short articles:
Morales, S. (2011) ‘Reflective Learning’ in Management in Education 25 (4) pp.146-148.
Taysum, A. (2011) ‘Strengths of postgraduate research in Continuing Professional Development for Professional Educationalists’ in Management in Education. 25 (4) pp. 138-141.
Then write a reflective piece that considers the impact of your learning on the course to date on your professional identity, and/or your professional practice, and/or your institutional processes and practices. RM LO 1. identify, plan, implement and critique investigations aimed at addressing issues and problems in their own institution (Problem solving, Research skills) Use this activity to develop your professional learning portfolio. You may wish to structure your reflections on the above reading using a double journal entry format.
In the left column state the learning that has taken place drawing on conceptual frameworks you have been introduced to during the course and the impact that the learning has had on your professional identity, and/or your professional practice, and/or your institutional processes and practices. In the right hand column provide evidence of the impact. You may find it useful to look at the job description and standards of the leadership post you aspire to, and reflect on whether you have begun to meet these standards in your reflective entry.
Your reflections on your learning journey can be included in your conclusions.
6-7 Collect data RM LO2: Demonstrate knowledge of how to collect and analyse data in ways appropriate to their chosen research focus.
7-8 Collect data RM LO2: Demonstrate knowledge of how to collect and analyse data in ways appropriate to their chosen research focus.
9-10 Please read the first two chapters of: MacBeath, J. and Dempster, N. (eds.). (2008) Connecting Leadership and Learning: principles for practice.London: Routledge.
RM LO 1. identify, plan, implement and critique investigations aimed at addressing issues and problems in their own institution (Problem solving, Research skills)
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