Page Navigation

Module Descriptors

This page displays the selected Module Descriptor.

Printer friendly version Printer friendly version

Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 07/07/2022 12:40:59

Title of Module: MSc Research Dissertation CDAS

Code: CDAS11002 SCQF Level: 11
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 60 ECTS: 30
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Education & Social Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:A  O'Gorman

Summary of Module

MSc CDAS Dissertation Module: The dissertation module forms a major part of the MSc Contemporary Drug and Alcohol Studies programme. The module provides students with the opportunity to consolidate their learning in drugs and alcohol by conducting an empirical research study on a topic of their choice which is relevant to the programme and agreed with the module co-ordinator.

Completion of the Trimester 1 Research Methods module ensures knowledge of a range of research techniques, providing a solid grounding in research methods and theory. Students are required to have an agreed Research Plan and successful completion of the methods module to progress on to the Dissertation.

The Dissertation Module provides further advanced drug and alcohol specific research skills through a series of taught workshops. These workshops equip students with the expertise required to conduct a research project independently, and to disseminate findings in line with academic conventions and professional standards. In addition, workshop-based teaching and learning enables students to identify and clarify their research topic, aims, methodology and design; to prepare for fieldwork and data analysis; and to submit a timely research proposal and research ethics application.

Ethics applications are required to be submitted to the School Ethics Committee and approval must be obtained before data collection can proceed.

On completion of an accepted research proposal, students are allocated a research dissertation supervisor who will provide individual guidance and support in their development as researchers and through the completion of their dissertation.

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
check markcheck mark

Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:
check mark





check mark


Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1check markTerm 2check markTerm 3check mark

[Top of Page]

Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Demonstrate the ability to critically review and synthesise an extensive body of literature on a specific topic and formulate a research question.

L2. Identify, conceptualise and execute appropriate research methods and ethical considerations required to investigate a research question.

L3. Plan and organise work, exercising autonomy and initiative in professional activities, and discussing and debating with peers and research specialists.

L4. Gather and analyse data using appropriate software where necessary to support and enhance the effectiveness of their research findings and skills

L5. Report independent research project in a dissertation format in line with academic standards and conventions.

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 11.

A critical understanding of a range of theories relating to alcohol and drugs.

A critical understanding of a range of techniques for the analysis of qualitative and/or quantitative data.

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 11.

Utilising an appropriate range of research methods in order to undertake a substantial research project.

Plan and execute a significant project of research, through the stages of idea generation, formation and investigation.

Interpret, critically analyse and utilise primary and secondary sources of information including electronic sources.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 11.

Consolidate and extend subject specialist knowledge, skills, academic writing practices and thinking.

Demonstrate the ability to conduct analysis, evaluation and theoretical synthesis.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 11.

Communicate with peers and specialists in research.

Evaluate and interpret data.

Using appropriate software to support and enhance the effectiveness of their research skills.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 11.

Exercise substantial autonomy and initiative to complete a substantial research project from inception to completion.

Take responsibility for their own work and contribute to the collaborative learning activities of the group.

Form a supportive and productive research relationship with their dissertation supervisor.

Systematically identify and address their own learning needs both in current and in new areas, making use of research in source materials as appropriate.

Deal with complex ethical issues.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Other:Students are required to have an agreed Research Plan and successful completion of the methods module to progress on to the Dissertation.
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

[Top of Page]

Learning and Teaching
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery16
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity18
Personal Development Plan36
Independent Study530
600 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Bell, J. 2005 Doing your research project, (3rd ed.) McGraw-Hill, International

Biggam J. (2008) Succeeding with Your Master's Dissertation: A Step-by-Step Handbook, Open University Press, Berkshire, England:

Murray, R. (2011) How to Write a Thesis (3rd ed.) Open University Press, Berkshire, England

The MSc Research Dissertation Handbook can be accessed in the ‘course materials’ section of the VLE. Additional learning support materials are available in the VLE Moodle.

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

Where a module has Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements these will be listed here:
All fulltime students (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries) are required to attend all scheduled classes and participate with all delivered elements of the module as part of their engagement with their programme of study. Consideration will be given to students who have protection under the appropriate equality law. Please refer to UWS Regulations, Chapter 1, 1.64 – 1.67, available at the following link:

[Top of Page]

Supplemental Information

Programme BoardSocial Sciences
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelPG Social Sciences
External ExaminerL Williams
Accreditation Details
Version Number


[Top of Page]

Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
The assessment strategy has been devised to encourage students to effectively plan their dissertation process and on completion of the module be able to independently carry out and disseminate findings of an empirical research project.

The provision of continuous formative feedback to students is central to subject specialist learning and enhancing graduate attributes.

Essential dissertation elements include:-

<> A successful application to the MCS School Ethics Committee that demonstrates a critical application of appropriate ethical considerations for the required project. The application must fulfil both School and Subject specific ethical requirements and gain approval within the set time scale in order for students to proceed to data collection.

<> A literature review which gives students the opportunity to acquire the skills to critically review a body of literature which they wish to further research and ensures engagement with the literature relevant to their research question at an early stage of the module.

<> The thesis (12000 - 15000 words) will be initially marked by their research supervisor and blind graded by a second member of CDAS staff. The thesis will be further blind graded by an external examiner before the MSc award can be made.
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Learning Outcome (5) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Dissertation/ Project report/ Thesischeck markcheck markcheck markcheck markcheck mark1000
Combined Total For All Components100% 0 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

[Top of Page]

  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
Aligned with the overall commitment to equality and diversity stated in the Programme Specifications, the module supports equality of opportunity for students from all backgrounds and with different learning needs. Using Moodle, learning materials will be presented electronically in formats that allow flexible access and manipulation of content (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries). The module complies with University regulations and guidance on inclusive learning and teaching practice. Specialist assistive equipment, support provision and adjustment to assessment practice will be made in accordance with UWS policy and regulations. The University’s Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Policy can be accessed at the following link:

Our partners are fully committed to the principles and practice of inclusiveness and our modules are designed to be accessible to all. Where this module is delivered overseas, local equivalent support for students and appropriate legislation applies.

UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.