All MSc students are required to write a 10,000 - 12,000 word dissertation. This contributes one-third (60 credits) of the overall assessment.

The dissertation is an opportunity to apply the content of the modules studied to a topic of interest to the student. It may address an issue of theoretical or practical importance and must be capable of being supervised by an IDD academic staff member. Students may relate the topic to their own work and / or their own country, but this is not compulsory. Most important is that the topic chosen is practicable, in the sense that there are adequate sources of reliable information available here at the University of Birmingham or that students can obtain.

Preparation for the dissertation starts during the Autumn Term with an introduction to research methods. This is followed in the first week of the Spring Term with an intensive dissertation workshop after which each student will identify a provisional dissertation topic and will be allocated a supervisor. Preparatory data collection takes place during the period from February to the May examinations. Fieldwork will be undertaken (if appropriate) in June / July and writing up must be completed by September.

All of IDD’s on-campus taught Masters degree programmes enable students either to carry out Individual fieldwork and study visits in a country and on a topic of their choice or to take part in an organised study visit. Funding for this overseas study is included in the programme fee.