Dissertation for Exercise and Sports Sciences

Module Overview

The aim of the dissertation (or project) is to enable you to develop your research skills and provide you with the opportunity to undertake a detailed study within a specialized subject area of interest. Your dissertation project will enable you to develop your research skills, project management and academic writing.

Choosing a Project

The strength and depth of research being conducted by academic staff at the University of Birmingham means that there are active research programmes that can support your MSc project. In some cases, staff will have specific projects available that can be conducted by MSc students in the school. As well as being clearly defined, these projects may already have ethical approval. They may also allow you to work in a team of researchers (including other students) while conducting your project. In other cases, staff offer to supervise projects in their particular area of expertise rather than offering a specific project. Undertaking a project offered in these ways has distinct advantages and you are strongly advised to take these opportunities where available.

If you do not select a project that is offered, allocation of a supervisor is less straightforward. In such cases, you may be asked to write a short overview of your research idea to help the supervision allocation process (250 words). You should be aware that the supervision process is rather different when a supervisor is asked to supervise research that is not part of their own programme of research. As such, their ability to provide specific advice and support may not be as complete as in there area of expertise. To reiterate, the knowledge of individual researchers is a major strength of our university, and tapping into this directly for your MSc project is strongly advised.

Projects conducted by students vary greatly but include:

  • Experimental studies
  • Other quantitative studies
  • Qualitative studies
  • Mixed methods
  • Studies involving the secondary analysis of an existing database
  • Single case study or case series
  • Systematic review (and meta-analysis) of published research (this is not an option for all programmes – contact your programme leader to discuss).

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of relevant literature
  • Design a suitable research study to answer the research question.
  • Identify and collect appropriate data
  • Gain ethical approval if appropriate.
  • Analyse the data collected and interpret the findings.
  • Understand the application of the findings to practice and/or policy where appropriate.
  • Demonstrate the ability to present the research, its conduct, methodology, results, conclusions and implications at Masters level.
  • Prepare a report suitable for submission to an appropriate and named international peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  • Present an oral presentation prepared for a scientific conference and answer subsequent questions raised.


  • One assignment based on the students own philosophical position 30%
  • One assignment that considers a methodological case study 70%