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MSc Deaf Education

University of Manchester

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

School of Health Sciences




Revised August 2022












Welcome from the Director of Postgraduate Taught Education

\\\home$\Downloads\thumbnail_Andrew%20Mawdsley.jpg I am delighted to welcome you to the School of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health. We are extremely pleased you have chosen the University of Manchester to commence or continue your postgraduate study journey; whether you are progressing straight from your undergraduate studies, seeking to develop your knowledge/skills in your chosen career or, are bravely, taking a completely different direction in life.

In the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and humanity, we will place you at the centre of a transformational learning process to support you to achieve your individual goals and aspirations. Our challenge to you is to embrace all of the opportunities available to you; be bold, think differently and realise your potential. We want your postgraduate journey with us to be intellectually stretching, rewarding and fun.  

We are aware that most of you will need to juggle a number of competing priorities during your postgraduate taught studies. Some of you will already be in full time employment, while others will need to secure part time employment to fund your studies. We know that many of you will have family and caring responsibilities that will have to be prioritised before your own learning. We hope the information detailed in this programme handbook will help you in managing these competing commitments. Whether you are joining us on campus, or studying at a distance, you are an integral part of our School and University, and we are here to support you.

We are extremely proud of our postgraduate student community and alumni who are making a difference, both locally and globally. We look forward to working with you, confident that you too will play a role in transforming the lives of people who use health and social care services, whether during your studies or upon graduation.  

I wish you every success in your postgraduate studies here at the University of Manchester. 

Mr Andrew Mawdsley
Director of Post Graduate Taught Education
School of Health Sciences

Where to find further information

In addition to this handbook you are required to familiarise yourself with the information contained within the A-Z of Student Services and IT Services handbook. New students are given access to copy of the appropriate handbooks at the beginning of their programme of study; alternatively the information is available on our website.

We will be happy to provide this handbook in large print if required.

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Tel: +44(0)161 275 5000

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The A-Z of Student Services

The Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations that are applicable to all students across the University are referred to in the University A-Z of Services and detailed in full within the University Calendar.

A-Z of Student Services

Essential advice, information and guidance for students at The University of Manchester; packed with up-to-the-minute information.

The University website contains a comprehensive and definitive listing of University policies and procedures relevant to both students and members of staff. It covers the full-range of our activities and is continually updated to ensure that you have immediate access to the latest versions of documents as soon as they are approved. It is also equipped with a search engine that enables you to find relevant documents using key words or phrases.

Click Here to visit the website



SECTION A : Dissertation Information (HCDI60311)

Dissertation Introduction

What is a dissertation?

This is a piece of detailed writing that further develops a student’s knowledge and expertise in their area of study. It involves examining a topic /question in depth and requires evidence of the ability to undertake sustained critical analysis. It provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their research/project skills and to produce an important piece of written work.

At M level the dissertation needs to clearly demonstrate that the student can understand how existing evidence /information relate to a specific question and how their own work adds to this. Such study requires independent thinking coupled with an ability to critique one’s own work. Students should be aware of the implications of their work and be able to defend the findings presented in the dissertation.

Students registering for the MSc Deaf Education

All students registering for the PG Diploma in Deaf Education are eligible to apply for the MSc Deaf Education. This requires successful completion of all the PG Dip DE course units and is then available as an add-on component.

We have a range of styles of project and dissertation to suit the varying needs of learners.  The range of styles reflects the fact that some learners may have the opportunity to collect primary data and some may not   Full ethical approval is usually required from the University and other regulatory bodies in the case of data collection.  

The following dissertation options are available:

  • A project which collects and reports qualitative or quantitative data
  • Research grant proposal
  • Quantitative research report using existing data
  • A systematic review
  • An Educational report/needs assessment [this would usually be at a strategic/regional level].
  • A qualitative study –a metasynthesis, qualitative study using available data, a theoretical review, a policy or discourse analysis

How should I choose a topic?

Students will be given a list of research projects with associated supervisors. In some circumstances, students may be able to generate their own project idea, however this must be approved by the programme team. A workshop will be organized to promote thought and discussion in this area. Students will be asked to register interest in a project (first and second choice) which will be considered by the supervisory team. Students will be notified of the outcome within 15 working days.  During the workshop students will be asked to consider the following:

Your dissertation is not an attempt at solving the problems of the world or all those in deaf education.

A good dissertation is one that examines a tightly structured problem/research question, is clearly focused and takes a critical approach with a relevant methodology /structure.  You might have lots of reasons to be passionate about a particular topic/problem but will need to convey the importance of this to the reader. You will need to make appropriate use of previous work relating to the problem being studied but taking a critical aspect. Deaf Education is a pragmatic discipline so dissertations can include discussion of the relevance of your findings, the ‘so what’ factor and what changes and recommendations you think would increase further knowledge and improve a population’s educational experience or a specific group’s experience [deaf children, parents/families of deaf children, Teachers of the Deaf, Deaf adults etc..]. 

Dissertation Proposal

Once you have been allocated a study, students will need to submit their study proposal to the appropriate supervisor for that project. Guidance for this can be found on Black Board. Your proposal will be assessed by the Dissertation Committee. If it is satisfactory you will be allowed to proceed with the project. If it is unsatisfactory you will be provided with detailed feedback/required changes before resubmitting.

A number of factors will be considered when reviewing your proposal. These include:

  • Demonstration of an academic approach
  • Your general understanding of the topic at this stage
  • The suitability of the chosen research method and study design
  • The ability of your proposal to demonstrate your understanding of critical research methods
  • The scope and time scales of the study

There is evidence that students who have done some initial groundwork and considered the above list carefully are more likely to produce a successful dissertation.

Introduction to Dissertation Supervision

Here some of the key roles for student and supervisor are outlined. Supervision needs to be flexible to help meet the needs of the student and to account for the other roles of your supervisor. Therefore, different supervisors may do things in different ways. This usually works out to the advantage of the student. It is important that supervisors and students clarify ways of working, in particular, methods of communication, at the start.

What is supervision?

At a postgraduate level, a dissertation supervisor aims to guide you or point you in the right directions. Supervisors are not expected, nor should they be doing work directly on your dissertation. A supervisor helps you plan your dissertation and to guide you through a period of learning associated with the topic area. They aim to help you complete a dissertation to the standard that you are capable of. Supervisors are not always ‘experts’ in the topic of your dissertation but have experience of research and dissertation writing and support, usually in related areas. Supervisors are not expected to do statistical analysis, proof reading, or reference checking!

At a postgraduate level, a key to learning is to be able to identify one’s own learning and support needs. Therefore, students are encouraged to discuss these with their supervisor. The supervisor can then work to meet those needs directly or suggest someone else for you to contact, or other ways of meeting your needs. This can include self-directed learning, reference to particular textbooks, or a suggestion to contact a topic expert. Further support materials can be found on the research design unit in Blackboard


All students will be allocated a dissertation supervisor. We will pair students with supervisors who have specific experience or interest in the chosen area to guide you through the dissertation process. Students do have to be mindful that the supervisor’s role is limited and the dissertation must be the student’s own work. Some students may also have a local project supervisor who may be their line manager, to assist with day to day queries about their work and project management. Supervisors are not responsible in any way for the final work that a student submits.

It is important that you have regular contact with your supervisor. It is important you discuss any concerns you may have about your dissertation, the progress of your work and the support you require.

Keeping track

Students and supervisors complete interim monitoring reports every three months from the supervisor been allocated. The form is downloaded from Blackboard and completed jointly between the student and supervisor, before returning to

The University allocates around ten to twelve hours of supervision to each student. At first, this might not seem enough, but is usually sufficient to meet the needs of most students. Communicating electronically certainly makes efficient use of time as does highlighting any problems or concerns in advance.

Good ideas

  • Send your supervisor an email to introduce yourself, with a copy of your approved dissertation proposal, a time plan, and any immediate concerns / support needs;
  • Confirm how often to contact your supervisor and how;
  • Be clear about how your supervisor prefers to work and to make most efficient use of their time;
  • When sending supervisors work to comment on, identify any specific queries or questions you might have;
  • Do clarify with your supervisor how much time they need to comment on substantive pieces of work;
  • Do let your supervisor know of any personal circumstances that are or are likely to interfere with your progress;
  • Do mention any concerns you have about the supervision process with your supervisor. 

Not such good ideas

  • Don’t send your supervisor constant emails about relatively minor things;
  • Don’t expect your supervisor to respond immediately;
  • Don’t expect your supervisor to know the answer to everything – their role is to guide and support you – but remember that it is YOUR project;
  • Don’t expect your supervisor to edit your dissertation;
  • Don’t ignore your supervisor’s advice without at least discussing it with them. It’s possible you do not want to do everything your supervisor might suggest, but it is helpful for you both to acknowledge your reasons for this.
  • Don’t expect to keep your supervisor if you do not contact them for many months or you go past the completion date without having had this agreed in advance.

What do you do if you have concerns about your supervision?

Most students have a positive experience of working with their supervisor. It is uncommon for significant problems to arise. If students and supervisors are clear about their roles and responsibilities from the beginning, then this can usually be avoided. Similarly, it is important that you raise any concerns with your supervisor before they develop into a bigger problem.

If you do have any concerns about your supervision which have not been addressed adequately by your supervisor then you need to contact the Course Leader Dr Helen Chilton.

Roles and Responsibilities of Supervisors

The responsibilities of Supervisors include:

a) giving guidance about the nature of research and the standard expected, the planning of the research programme, literature and sources, attendance at taught classes where, appropriate and about requisite techniques (including arranging for instruction where necessary);

b) maintaining contact through regular meetings (the frequency of meetings being appropriate to the research being undertaken and agreed in advance);

c) being accessible to the student at other appropriate times for advice and responding to difficulties raised by the student;

d) giving detailed advice on the necessary completion dates of successive stages of the work so that the thesis may be submitted within the agreed timescale; the supervisor needs a minimum of 3 weeks before planned submission to be able to feedback on any final drafts

e) requesting written work or reports as appropriate and returning written material with constructive criticism and in reasonable time;

f) ensuring that for degrees where an oral examination is required the student is adequately prepared by arranging for the student to present his or her work to staff and graduate

g) ensuring that the student is made aware when progress is not satisfactory and facilitating improvement with advice and guidance;

h) establishing at an early stage the Supervisor’s responsibility in relation to the student’s written work, including the nature of the guidance and comments to be offered as the work     proceeds and on the draft of the thesis before it is submitted. It must be made clear to the        student that research for a higher degree is undertaken within the general principle that a thesis must be the student’s own work;

i) ensuring that at the end of each year of the course the student produces a research report, to which the Supervisor should add comments on progress. The Supervisor’s comments on   progress should be signed by the student to confirm that they have been seen, before the    annotated report is submitted by the Supervisor to the appropriate Supervisory body in accordance with established Graduate School procedures;

j) making students aware of other researchers and research work in the department and Graduate School;

k) encouraging the student to publish the research;

l) providing pastoral support and advising students, where appropriate, of University support services;

m) bringing to the attention of the students the health and safety regulations and academic rules, regulations and codes of practice of the University. More detailed guidance on Health and Safety is available in the University’s Health and Safety Policy Notice UMHSP 33, available from         Health and Safety Services, which interprets and applies the CVCP Note of Guidance N/93/111,   “Health and Safety Responsibilities of Supervisors towards Graduate and Undergraduate         students”. Guidance on specific situations is available from the staff of Health and Safety        

n) to recommend examiners for the student’s thesis after discussion with the student to ensure that the proposed examiners have not had a significant input into the project, a significant       personal, financial or professional relationship with the student, or that there is no other good     reason to doubt the suitability of the recommendation

The responsibilities of the student include:

a) pursuing the programme with a positive commitment, taking full advantage of the resources and facilities offered by the academic environment and, in particular, contact with the Supervisor, other staff and research students;

b) discussing with the Supervisor the type of guidance and comment believed to be most helpful, and agreeing a schedule of meetings; providing brief minutes of the meeting to the supervisor afterwards

c) ensuring that he/she is aware of the health and safety regulations and academic rules and regulations and codes of practice of the University;

d) successfully completing any training programme arranged within the prescribed time period;

e) taking the initiative in raising problems or difficulties, however elementary they may seem, bearing in mind that prompt discussion and resolution of problems can prevent difficulties and disagreements at a later stage;

f) maintaining the progress of the work in accordance with the stages agreed with the Supervisor, including, in particular, the presentation of written material as required, in sufficient time to allow for comments and discussion before proceeding to the next stage. Where possible, students will be given details of the work programme for the academic year at the beginning of the year;

Recording progress

It is good practice to keep a dissertation diary, or at least a record of your progress and a record of feedback from your supervisor. This can also help us if we need to find you another supervisor mid-way through your work, in case of sickness for example.  Students will be expected to keep track of their own progress and to initiate contact/support from their supervisor.

Presenting your dissertation

Information on dissertation regulations, including methods of presentation, is available on Blackboard.

Make sure you read this information carefully. Dissertations will not be accepted if these guidelines are not followed to the letter and may mean you have to pay again to have it rebound.


Correct referencing throughout your dissertation is an important part of your academic work and is considered by the examiners. A number of computer programmes are available to help with this though this is not essential. Referencing can be produced in Word for example, or manual systems can be used to help along the way. Do not leave your referencing until after you have written your dissertation as it can take a lot longer to complete retrospectively than one might think!

On this course we prefer students to use the Harvard referencing system, reflecting much of the social sciences:

Submitting Your Dissertation

Electronic submission of dissertations

You must submit an electronic copy via Turnitin on the dissertation Blackboard space by the submission deadline

Understanding Academic Malpractice

All dissertations for the MSc will all be routinely screened for plagiarism.  The University does not permit plagiarism or other forms of academic malpractice under any circumstances, and individuals found to have committed such an incident can expect a harsh penalty, which in some cases results in exclusion from the university. To ensure that you are fully informed about University expectations and understand your responsibilities with regard to academic malpractice please ensure you have read the guidance provided by the University to students on this topic.

Guidance to students on plagiarism and other forms of academic malpractice:

If you have any doubts or further questions please contact your course tutor or Programme Director.

Unit Specification

Course Unit     HCDI 60311 

Course unit title Dissertation
Credit Rating: 60
Level: Postgraduate

Tutors:             Dr Helen Chilton , Lindsey Jones

Pre-requisites:   Qualified Teacher Status/QTLS / PG Diploma in Deaf Education (or appropriate progress depending on the mode of study)


To allow students to conduct an independent piece of research on a specific topic

To produce a written report of the research in the form of a thesis

 Learning Outcomes:

 By the end of the course unit students will:

Produce a thorough critique of the relevant literature

Formulate a sensible, coherent research question, which can be realistically addressed in the dissertation timescale

Formulate and use a methodology, or methodologies, appropriate for the research question

Examine and evaluate the research data using appropriate statistical analysis tools

Appraise the study and produce a thesis adhering to the MSc guidelines

Key Transferable Skills:

Written communication whilst on placement, to monitor assess and promote effective audiological management

Oral communication, giving both formal and informal presentations

Interpersonal skills, advocating for optimum practice whilst on placement

Initiative, seeking help as necessary on campus and on placement

Self-regulatory skills in taking opportunities to gain extra experience whilst balancing other demands of the course

Teaching and learning methods:

Students will have at least six meetings with the dissertation supervisor over the year, to discuss the aims and objectives of the study, to enable the student to arrive at a final design, and to facilitate the conducting and writing up of the research. Such meetings may be in person, by phone or via Skype or similar electric platform. Supervisors will give general advice and help with analysis when necessary, and will provide feedback on one draft version of the final dissertation.

When checking the length of your work you should remember that the following do not count towards the total:

  1. Names in brackets (e.g. Savel, 1991) which relate to references in the reference list;
  2. The reference list itself;
  3. Words which form the title or other legend on a graph or chart;
  4. Material in an appendix (e.g. to a practical report) which is not presented as part of the assessment.

Otherwise the rule is: if you expect us to read it, it counts!

While 12,000 is an UPPER limit on the length of the dissertation, there is no lower limit, we interpret the 10,000 words lower limit as guidance.  Students should be aware that the dissertation forms a substantial piece of work and should constitute more than would be typical of a journal article.  The literature review should be thorough and will generally include more information than you might find in a journal article on the same topic.  However, we recognize that different types of projects have different requirements in terms of the amount of information needed in method sections and results sections, and some may lend themselves to longer discussions of results than others.  You should therefore seek guidance from your supervisors who are experts in your field of research.  As your supervisor will also be one of the two markers for your dissertation, they are the best people to consult.  In practice, the 10,000 lower limit is likely to be appropriate for most people, but this may not be true of all projects.


Note both sections must be passed to complete this course unit

Assessment activity Length required Weighting within unit
Research Methods  NA Not Assessed

Dissertation           NA                  100%

All references and reading materials as well as links to other resources are on line and available through Reading lists online

Course Unit Learning Outcomes

 Course Unit Content

 Students can generate their own project ideas but a list of projects is available from programme team which you are able to select. An MSc workshop will be organized in October of the first year to promote thought and discussion around your project. It is useful to discuss your ideas with colleagues and to get a variety of views to help to focus on a specific area. When choosing a project it might be helpful to think about the following:

Your dissertation is not an attempt at solving the problems of the world or all those in deaf education

A good dissertation is one that examines a tightly structured problem/research question, is clearly focused and takes a critical approach with a relevant methodology /structure

You might have lots of reasons to be passionate about a particular topic/problem , but will need to convey the importance of this to the reader

You will need to make appropriate use of previous work relating to the problem being studied but taking a critical aspect

Deaf Education is a pragmatic discipline so dissertations can include discussion of the relevance of your findings, the ‘so what’ factor and what changes and recommendations you think would increase further knowledge and improve a population’s educational experience or a specific group’s experience [deaf children, parents/families of deaf children, Teachers of the Deaf, Deaf adults etc..].

  You will be expected to show how your work is relevant to the field of deaf education.

If your study requires you to data collect you will need ethical approval from the University

Dissertation Options

The following pages contain a breakdown of the individual dissertation options for students registered for the MSc Deaf Education.

  1. Grant Proposal

This option is likely to appeal to students who have identified the need for a particular area of research or those keen to develop a research project after completing their masters. It will also be helpful for students looking to start a more research intense course of study in the future.

The research grant proposal for the MSc dissertation will reflect some of the main sections of a research grant proposal, such as that used by the Medical Research Council (MRC) or the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC). Remember that you will be assessed against the marking framework included in the ‘Additional information’ section at the end of this guidance document. Therefore your dissertation will need to contain appropriate critical appraisal and reflective thinking at appropriate sections in the dissertation.

We suggest that you structure your research proposal using the following sections.


Think of an informative but catchy title. Be concise. An effective title not only piques the reader’s interest, but also predisposes them favourably towards the proposal.

Literature review (5000 words):

Please read the information included in the data collection guidance

Lay abstract (300 words):

This is a brief summary of your research proposal. It should include:

1.    The background and rationale for the research

2.    The aims of the project and hypotheses (if any)

3.    An outline of the research methods, including the design, procedures, the participant sample and any instruments that will be used.

4.    What is the predicted longer term impact of your findings i.e. how your target population will benefit from the research. 

This needs to be written in simple-terms so that it can be understood by a non-scientist/non-clinician.

Introduction (1000 words):

The main purpose of the introduction is to provide the necessary background or context for your research problem. This is not the same as just summarising your literature review. The aim is to use the relevant studies from your literature review to frame your research question so that its importance is clear and interesting. Specifically, your introduction should address these questions:

·      Why does this particular research need to be done? e.g. why the research is important and timely

·      What gaps in knowledge does the research seek to address?

·      How might it lead to an improvement in a particular setting/context/population? e.g. how this research will benefit a particular patient/participant group and in what timescale the benefit will occur.

You could consider using the following subheadings to structure your introduction:

1.    Research problem –  What is the purpose of your study (in a couple of sentences)

2.    Background – Provide the context and set the stage for your research question in such a way as to show its necessity and importance. Essentially, why is more research needed in this area?

3.    Research question – What is it that you want to find out by doing the research e.g. what is the efficacy of using drug X for curing hearing loss?

4.    Outcome measures – Identify the key independent variables (i.e. the things that you will change/manipulate such as a new drug, intervention, therapy etc.) and the dependent variables (i.e. the measurable outcomes such as improvement in hearing abilities, cognitive skills, work productivity etc.) of your experiment. Alternatively, specify the phenomenon you want to study.

5.    Hypotheses – State your hypothesis or theory, if any. For exploratory or phenomenological research, you may not have any hypotheses.

Aims (200 words):

This is restating what the purpose of your research is and what you hope to achieve/what are the potential long-term benefits for your target population.

Methods (1500 words):

The detailed study design must be directly related to your stated aims and capable of answering the proposed research question. Whilst you are not asked to go on and do the actual study, the proposal must be related to current circumstances and existing evidence; it must be a study design that could actually be carried out in practice. You will give a clear rationale for the particular elements of the research project, using appropriate references to support specific parts of your study design.

NB. If you have already completed an ethics application via the University’s ERM online system, you can download this and include as an appendix to answer sections 2 to 7 below if you would prefer. Please refer the reader to the appropriate appendix under each of the subheadings.

1.    Study rationale

Briefly describe the major issues to be addressed by your research and indicate why your research is worth doing. If relevant, also state why the research is timely given a particular context/situation e.g. switching to online testing due to social distancing guidelines.

2.    Data collection

Give an overview of the design and study procedure (stimuli, responses, conditions manipulated, etc.) such that the study could be replicated by someone else using this description. It should be clear exactly what will happen to research participants, how many times, in what order, for what length of time, where the research will be conducted, and when.

Describe any involvement of research participants, participant groups or communities in the design of the research.

Also include a copy of the data collection tools you plan to use (e.g. questionnaires and surveys, paper based assessments/tests, interview topic guides, focus group schedules etc.) in the appendix.

If using electronic or online data collection please clarify the platform/site/method to be used as well as where the data will be stored and how they will be transferred.

3.    Data sampling

What is the maximum number of participants you plan to recruit (including, if relevant, the potential for dropout)?

Provide a description of participant demographics (e.g. age, gender etc.), which should be divided into different participant groups (e.g. participants with hearing loss, control participants etc.) if relevant, including numbers of participants in each group.

Is statistical sampling relevant to this research? How was this number of participants decided upon (e.g. power analysis)?

List and justify the inclusion and exclusion criteria for participants.

How will the potential participants be identified, approached and recruited?

4.    Data storage

N.B. If you have completed a Data Management Plan online, you can download this and include as an appendix to answer this section if you would prefer. Please refer the reader to the appropriate appendix.

What are the requirements in terms of data storage (e.g. where will the data be stored, for how long, and by whom?).

What measures have been put in place to ensure confidentiality of personal data?

Give details of what encryption or other anonymisation procedures will be used and at what stage.

You MUST provide details for EACH type of data collected/generated (i.e. interview data, visual data, etc).

Although participants must be free to withdraw from the study at any point you must ensure they are made aware that once you have anonymised their data into the full data set, it will no longer be possible to identify their specific data and therefore will not be possible to withdraw their data from the study.

5.    Ethical considerations

All research needs to follow accepted ethical principles such as the Declaration of Helsinki and research governance.

What do you consider to be the main ethical issues which may arise with the proposed study? E.g. informed consent, confidentiality, invasive techniques, hazards and risks, use of potentially vulnerable participant groups etc.

What steps will be taken to address these issues?

What relevant qualifications/experience do the researchers have to conduct this research?

6.    Study review

How has the scientific quality of the research been assessed? E.g. Internal review (e.g. involving colleagues or academic supervisors), Review within a multi-centre research group, Independent external review, Review within a commercial company, Other (e.g. in relation to methodological guidelines).

Describe the review process and outcome.

7.    Study dissemination

How is it intended the results of the study will be reported and disseminated? E.g. conference presentations, peer-reviewed academic journals, book/book chapter etc.

How will the results of research be made available to research participants and communities from which they are drawn? E.g. newsletters, presentations, written feedback etc.

8.    Resources

An additional section on resources/costings is required. Here you need to provide information on the direct costs to carry out the research project. For example, what are the costs for employing a researcher(s) for the duration of the project? Are there any participant costs? Other expenses and fees? This section must be realistic, set in a particular context/country and where possible, supported with evidence. Please display this information in a table format.

9.    Study timeline

This is a detailed time plan which can be helpful to present as a Gantt chart.

Data analysis (500 words)

Compared with an empirical research project or a systematic review/meta-analysis, you are not required to do any statistical analysis in a Research Grant proposal. Nevertheless, it is important to illustrate your understanding of the type of data that you would collect if the grant application was successful, as well as how best to analyse it. To do this, you will need to:

1.       Specify the statistical experimental design and why it was chosen.

2.       Describe the methods of analysis (statistical or other appropriate methods, e.g. for qualitative research) by which the data will be evaluated to meet the study objectives.

3.       Describe how you will interpret the findings (in terms of positive or null-results) to enable you to answer your research question.

Discussion (1000 words):

Here you need to convince the reader of the significance of your research question and of your proposed research design. This can bring in some of the wider literature or perhaps some pilot data to develop arguments to highlight the strengths and limitations of your proposed research.

Discuss and reflect on your study design, including a critique of your methods, and show how you have tried to include robust methods in your proposal that incorporate existing knowledge and tried and tested methods from the literature. Be enthusiastic and relay a sense of confidence in your proposed research design.

Research rarely goes to plan and so you need to highlight any potential problems (e.g. time constraints, time constraints, negative findings) that may arise that could prevent the delivery of the project as intended and describe alternative approaches that will be taken to overcome these problems (e.g. contingency planning).

Whilst you will not have any actual findings to discuss, you can postulate what these might be and the implications of a positive or null-finding from your research in terms of service delivery/health policy, for example.





  1. Systematic review

Systematic reviews provide an opportunity for students to develop their skills in systematically collating, assessing and summarising existing sources of evidence. The amount of work involved can be influenced by the number of studies that could be included in the review. For the purposes of this dissertation, students can limit the number of studies in their review (see below). Generally, a minimum of between five and ten studies needs to be included in the main part of the review to demonstrate your skills and understanding to the examiner. However, a good review can still be completed even if no eligible studies can be found (see below).

A systematic review need not be limited to randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and you are not expected to complete a meta-analysis for the dissertation. Students will need to include in the dissertation the rationale for the types of study designs included in the review. You are encouraged to use a recognised framework for conducting systematic reviews that is appropriate to your research question.

The content of the actual review will vary depending on the research question and the approach taken. You are expected to highlight how your work is relevant to public health and /or primary care as well. Generally, it is likely to include:

·        Introduction/background

·        Study design/methods including:

·        Definition of intervention

·        Criteria for inclusion/exclusion criteria

·        Primary and secondary outcomes of the review

·        Methods of analysis/summarising data

·        Methods for assessing study quality

·        Search strategy & sources including grey/unpublished literature

Results including:

–         Flow chart of search process/included & excluded studies

–         Summary of data extraction sheets

–         Summary of included studies

–         Assessment of methodological quality

–         Summary of treatment effects

–         Discussion including a critique of the review itself

–         Conclusion

–         References

–         Appendices

Good quality search strategies for some research questions can identify hundreds, sometimes thousands of potentially eligible studies to be reviewed. Students are unlikely to have sufficient time (and indeed support from a second reviewer) to suitably deal with this. Therefore, it is possible to limit the number of studies for the dissertation. This could be done for example, by limiting the years of publication in the search strategy, or only including UK studies (or for that matter non-UK studies), or limiting studies by population such as just women, or by a specific age group. If you use one of these approaches then it needs to be clearly stated in the methods, results and discussion section.

In some cases, you might find fewer than a handful of potentially eligible studies for your review or none at all. This does not rule out conducting a systematic review for your dissertation. You will still be able to complete all of the sections outlined above until the results section. You could then explore possible strengths and weaknesses of your search strategy, or inclusion/exclusion criteria for example, before providing a more narrative review of some of the ‘weaker’ forms of evidence that did not pass your criteria. It is unlikely that nothing has been published on your research question at all. You could then conclude with recommendations about what research was needed, what form this might take, and why it was important. These are just ideas and students taking this option will be able to enter wider thinking with their supervisor.

*Note that some of the sections here e.g. introduction may be supported by reading the information included in the data collection guidance*


  1. Educational Report or Educational Needs Assessment

This option takes the format of a report aimed at policy makers. It will usually be focused on a particular problem/issue of importance to the education or social well-being of deaf children and likely to be linked to the student’s place of work.

In addition to a standard Educational report/needs assessment, students will need to demonstrate their skills in critical appraisal of the evidence and set their findings in the context of other work. This will include a critique of the current report. These sections can be included in the main body of the report of as appendices.

The content of the report will be influenced by the problem but is likely to include:

–         Executive Summary

–         Purpose of this report

–         What was done / what was found

–         Key recommendations

–         Introduction & background

–         Introduce the problem & scientific rationale

–         Policy review and/or critical appraisal of the literature

–         State a case for potential action

–         Local issues

–         Describe the local problem in detail including population & problem profiles

–         Key partner/stakeholder profiles

–         Consultations

–         Option appraisals

–         Financial appraisals

–         Recommendations & justification

–         Implementation strategy

–         Key to successful implementation

–         Contingency plans

–         Change/Project management issues

–         Discussion with reference to literature

–         Conclusions

–         References

–         Appendices

*Note that some of the sections here e.g. introduction may be supported by reading the information included in the data collection guidance*


  1. Quantitative / qualitative data collection

For any project including the collection of new data you will need to go through the necessary ethical approvals and checks.  Please speak to your supervisor about this.

All projects will include the following:


Although this appears immediately after the title page in your manuscript, it will probably be the very last page you will write before submitting your dissertation. It is vitally important that you make a good impression. This may be the only page that a reader will look at in your dissertation. It is certainly the first page that an examiner will look at so make a good job of writing this page. The abstract should consist of a brief factual account of the study, giving the important details.

Introduction / Literature review

You should first conduct a critical review of the literature in order to orient yourself with the literature and develop the rationale for your research project. The more you read, the easier it will be to determine what is considered important work in your chosen area. For example, so-called ‘seminal’ articles may be referred to in almost every paper you read. Also, you will be able to develop your own critical powers if you notice carefully how researchers evaluate each other’s work.

 Your introduction should be a condensed critical synthesis of the most relevant literature. If you are unsure how to start to write this section, a good idea is to make a list of the key studies you intend to include. In addition to identifying and briefly describing each relevant study, you should try to briefly comment on the quality of the study: is it comprehensive? is it flawed? how does it fit in with other studies on this topic?, are you able to explain the findings?, how exactly has it contributed to the topic? And so on. This means that your introduction will be evaluative and critical of the studies that have a particular bearing on your own research. You may feel hesitant about criticizing published work, but there is no need to; just because a study has been published, that does not necessarily mean it is superior to the one you are doing – nor that other authors are infallible! Given the word limit your discussion of each study will range from a few sentences to a paragraph so you will need to write concisely. Your introduction should not simply be a regurgitation of what the journal article says: a good introduction will be critical of the existing literature and contain your interpretation and opinion of the literature. The order you write about each study is not necessarily chronological: there is normally some grouping of studies based on themes (for example, studies using clinical participants and non-clinical participants may be presented in separate sections). Do not include everything you have read just because you have read it. There will be much reading around your topic as you begin to understand it but this is ‘background’ information that will not appear in a succinct introduction.

This final section of the introduction is perhaps the most important. This is where you summarise the literature and identify the ‘gap-in-knowledge’. Here you are explaining why your study is necessary. A well written introduction will have hinted at the gap throughout i.e., that there is an issue or question that has still to be addressed. By the end of the introduction you should be in position to identify and clearly justify the research question you will answer in your study.

Thus your introduction outlines the nature of the problem (and why it is important), critically reviews the relevant literature, identifies the gap in knowledge (the rationale for the study) and states the aim of your project.


At the end of your introduction you will include clearly stated aims.


 The methodology (sometimes referred to as experimental design) is a very important section and will require a lot of thought: rush or make a mistake with the design and the results of your project could be, at best, difficult to interpret. Few things are more dispiriting than to complete a study based on a good idea but with irremediable flaws in the methods.

In this section you will summarise the type of design you have chosen.You will describe how many participants were recruited. Who was included/excluded? What screening procedures, selection criterion did you apply? How did you arrive at the number of participants in each group? (Describe power analysis). Were participants paid for taking part? Where did you recruit participants (for example, student population or hospital records)? Remember to make it clear that you obtained ethical approval (see below).

You will describe all materials (such as tests, questionnaires, topic guides) and equipment and the procedures for carrying out the study.  For complex designs you may wish to include a summary table or flowchart.

You should finish with a section describing how you analysed the data (what format the results are expected to take and what statistical and/or qualitative methods were used). It is important that you should consider the methods at this stage of your research because it may influence some aspects of the experimental design. The type of qualitative data analysis must be stated clearly and the processes to be undertaken must be outlined in detail including the different roles of the student and the supervisor in the analysis process.


The analysis of results should begin with exploration of your data to produce summary The results section merely reports the findings: there is no discussion or interpretation as this is dealt with in the discussion section which will follow. Explanatory text should be used to identify and describe the tables and figures of relevance. Tables of numbers are useful, but if these are copious and not all interesting, be selective and include the rest in appendices.

The presentation of your results will depend entirely on the type of data you collect and should be discussed with your supervisor.


This is where you are trying to make sense of your results. The purpose of this section is to discuss and interpret your results: were your research questions answered? Begin this section by summarising your findings. You may need to do some further literature research to fill in details that arise from the results. Don’t forget to give references, even though you will have already mentioned some in earlier sections. You should also relate your findings to practical applications in the real world: there is a difference between statistically significant results and meaningful differences. Within this section, you may also recommend how others could extend your work and make some recommendations for clinical practice. The strengths and limitations of your study should be discussed and you should put forward suggestions for future research and final conclusions


  1. Quantitative or qualitative study using existing data

This option takes the format of a standard report of data collection. You will need to read the extensive guidance in this handbook (in option 4 –data collection) for the relevant sections.

It needs to include the following main sections:

·        Introduction & background

·        Critical review of existing literature

·        Study design

·        Analysis

·        Results

·        Discussion

·        Conclusion

Possible sources of data include:

–         Use of an existing data set which the student has permission to use. This could include analyses from one of the large national research databases or surveys (e.g. BATOD survey, HMI reports) or a more local data set, such as a service review or NDCS survey.

–         Analysis of a previous or current research project which the student has been involved with. 

Students may complete a:


Students should choose a topic that has been previously researched via a number of published qualitative research studies and produce a metasynthesis see: Young, A., Carr, G., Hunt, R., McCracken, W., Skipp, A., Tattersall, H. (2006) Informed Choice and deaf children: underpinning concepts and enduring challenges. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, Vol.11(3):322-336

Thorne, S., Jensen, L., Kearney, M.H., Noblit, G., Sandelowski, M. (2004) Qualitative metasynthesis: Reflections on a methodological orientation and ideological agenda. Qualitative Health Research, 14,1342-1365

Qualitative study using available data

Students might choose a topic of interest and draw upon available parent/student narratives, outcomes data as well as other relevant published research in critically addressing an educational issue of interest.

A theoretical review

Students would choose a topic of interest and address some theoretical questions by reviewing previous theoretical and empirical (where relevant) work.  Examples of topics that could be addressed in this way include:

–         The social/ cultural construction of risk in relation to a number of educational or social issues.

–         The conceptualisation/ measurement of disability in relation to meeting educational and social needs.

Policy or discourse analysis/content analysis

Students should choose a topic of interest where they can critically examine relevant texts.  If the topic is a specific focus of policy strategies, then the study should include analysis of policy documents. Other texts that can be a focus of discourse analysis can include media sources such as visual imagery and newspaper commentary.  A number of public health issues have been the focus of discourse analysis, such as ‘food scares’, the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV, and students could consult published studies of this type for ideas.  Students would also need to consult specific texts on discourse analysis for this approach.


Teaching and Learning Methods


A 10,000 – 12,000 word dissertation based on the piece of independent, empirical research, submitted by the agreed deadline. You may submit before the deadline but you must notify your supervisor and Programme Administrator of your intended submission date.  The dissertation will be marked according to the criteria.

Electronic submission of dissertations

Pgt students will be required to submit their dissertation electronically.


Marking Criteria





Exceptional work, nearly or wholly faultless for that expected at Master’s level.





Work of excellent quality throughout.


70 -79%




EXCELLENT Work of very high to excellent quality showing originality, high accuracy, thorough understanding, critical appraisal, and very good presentation.  Shows a wide and thorough understanding of the material studied and the relevant literature, and the ability to apply the theory and methods learned to solve unfamiliar problems.







Work of good to high quality showing evidence of understanding of a broad range of topics, good accuracy, good structure and presentation, and relevant conclusions.  Shows a good knowledge of the material studied and the relevant literature and some ability to tackle unfamiliar problems.





Work shows a clear grasp of relevant facts and issues and reveals an attempt to create a coherent whole. It comprises reasonably clear and attainable objectives, adequate reading and some originality.







Work shows a satisfactory understanding of the important programme material and basic knowledge of the relevant literature but with little or no originality and limited accuracy.  Shows adequate presentation skills with clear but limited objectives and does not always reach a conclusion.







Work shows some understanding of the main elements of the programme material and some knowledge of the relevant literature. Shows a limited level of accuracy with little analysis of data or attempt to discuss its significance.


20- 29%




Little relevant material presented.  Unclear or unsubstantiated arguments with very poor accuracy and understanding.


0 – 19%



Work of very poor quality containing little or no relevant information.

The minimum pass mark for each course unit for Diploma & MSc is 50%




Extension Request Form

Download form here: SHS_Extension.Request Form


Interruption Request Form

Download form here: SHS_Interruption request Form


Programme Amendment Form

Download form here: SHS_Programme Amendment Form


Withdrawal Form

Download form here: Withdrawal Form


Certification of Student Ill Health


These guidelines set out the procedures to be followed by students who fall ill and are absent from the University for brief periods and/or who believe their illness may have affected their academic performance. Students are reminded that they must register with a local GP and must visit their GP for treatment of ill health where necessary.

Students should always consult their GP if their illness is severe, if it persists or if they are in any doubt about their health.

  2. You should use self-certification to explain absences through illness for up to oneweek (i.e. seven days including the weekend). You should complete Part I of this form to give the exact dates of the absence and a clear explanation of the reason for it. The form should be handed in to the appropriate office or person in the department immediately after the absence.
  3. You should do all you can to inform your department at the time of your illness andto seek advice. Although you may feel too ill to attend classes or you believe your illness is affecting your performance, you may be able to visit your department. You should give this form to your tutor or other appropriate member of staff and they can use Part II to record the advice given to you and/or that you appeared to them to be unfit to perform to your potential.

Repeated self-certification will normally result in the student being referred to the University student Health Service for assessment.

  1. Medical Certification

For illness of more than one week the university will accept self-certification, as above, for illness of up to one week but if you are ill for longer than this you should obtain a consultation with your GP and ask for your illness to be certified using Part III of this form. Copies of this form are available in local GP practices.

When you visit your GP for treatment or because you are concerned about your health as stated above, you should always consult your GP if your illness is severe or if you are in any doubt about your health. If you do this you may ask your GP to certificate your illness and part III may be used for this purpose. Some practices may make a charge for this.

  1. Illness prior to/or during Examinations

If you are ill immediately prior to or during examinations you must inform your Department immediately and discuss the situation with your personal tutor or other appropriate person in the department. Depending on the circumstances, you may be advised to proceed with the examinations or, instead, to sit the examinations at the next opportunity. You may be asked to self-certify your illness using this form and the appropriate person in the Department will use Part II to record advice given and/or that you appeared to be unfit to perform to your potential.

This should be handed in, or posted, to the appropriate office or person in the department as soon as possible.

If you are taken ill during an examination, you should be referred to the University student Health Centre. The doctor or nurse at the student Health Centre who sees you will, at your request, complete this form and send it to the department to confirm the visit and the ill health.








Due date: end of semester 1


MSc Deaf Education


This form records progress at the early stage of planning your research. It should be completed in conjunction with your supervisor and returned to the Postgraduate Office in the School of Heath Sciences.




Project title …………………………………………………………………………….



By this stage of your research you should have discussed and agreed the following with your supervisor. If you have encountered any problems, discuss these first with your supervisor. If they still cannot be resolved, you should contact your Programme Director.


List any issues or problems that have arisen in the box provided


Outline plan for your research project                      Discussed: YES / NO

This will include the research question (and hypotheses if appropriate) and the design of your project.


Training needs                                            Discussed: YES / NO

This will include training in addition to MSc units, e.g. English-language classes, remedial statistics, access to the disability office services, techniques specific to your project.


Necessary ethical and governance approvals            Discussed: YES / NO

Discuss what ethical approvals will be required and the procedures needed to acquire these.


















Record here any problems which you are currently having or which you  foresee


I confirm that all the above information is correct.


STUDENT (print)……………………………………(signature)………………………………………….


SUPERVISOR (print)……………………………………(signature)………………………………………….





Due date: end of semester 2

MSc Deaf Education


This form is for your second formal research report. It should be completed with your supervisor. When complete, hand the form to the Postgraduate Office in the School of Health Sciences




Project title …………………………………………………………………………….



By this stage your research should be well underway. You should discuss your progress in your dissertation work and in your taught course units with your supervisor. If you have encountered any problems, discuss these first with your supervisor. If they still cannot be resolved, you should contact your Programme Director. Please use the boxes below to record your progress and any problems identified.



Approved: YES / NO

If no, provide details:





  1. DATA COLLECTION           


If data collection has not started, give details. Give details of when data collection is likely to be completed:





  1. ANALYSIS                                


Briefly describe at what stage the analysis is at and projected data for completing a full first draft (which your supervisor can comment on):










  1. WRITE-UP                                    


Briefly describe at what stage the write up of the project is and projected data for completing a full first draft (which your supervisor can comment on):






I confirm that all the above information is correct.


STUDENT (print)……………………………………(signature)………………………………………….


SUPERVISOR (print)……………………………………(signature)…………………………………………. 





Due date: end of semester 3

MSc Deaf Education


This form is for your third formal research report.  When complete, return the form to the Postgraduate Office in the School of Health Sciences




Project title …………………………………………………………………………….



By this stage your research should be at an advanced stage. You should discuss your progress in your dissertation work and in your taught course units with your supervisor. If you have encountered any problems, discuss these first with your supervisor. If they still cannot be resolved, you should contact your Programme Director. Please use the boxes below to record your progress and any problems identified.



Approved: YES / NO

If no, provide details:







  1. DATA COLLECTION             


If data collection has not started, give details. Give details of when data collection is likely to be completed:






  1. ANALYSIS                                


Briefly describe at what stage the analysis is at and projected data for completing a full first draft (which your supervisor can comment on):








  1. WRITE-UP                                    


Briefly describe at what stage the write up of the project is and agreed date for submitting a full draft to your supervisor for comment:





Agreed date for submitting first draft:

I confirm that all the above information is correct.


STUDENT (print)……………………………………(signature)………………………………………….


SUPERVISOR (print)……………………………………(signature)………………………………………….