UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.

At UCL, the academic mission is paramount. Our ambition is to achieve the highest standards in our teaching and research.

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Staff books include:

Agar - Science and Spectacle spacerAthena Swan Bronze Award

Factsheet: Dissertation

This factsheet provides information about the written dissertation. Also refer to the HPSC 3004 syllabus.

HPSC3004 Moodle page (link).

The dissertation contributes 75% to your final course mark.

due date

The dissertation must be uploaded into the HPSC3004 Moodle page by noon on the second day of Term 3 (link), with a paper copy arriving in the department by 17:30 the same day.

The due date is chosen deliberately so the first day of Term 3 may be used to sort through any last problems, especially printing.

Do not request an extension unless truly exceptional circumstances apply. Consult the 3004 syllabus for details on the extension policy.

Your supervisor will appreciate receiving, at a convenient time, a personal copy of your thesis.

word count

The word count for your dissertation should be 10,000 words. The maximum is 12,000 words. Above the maximum, penalties apply. The word count includes the main body of the text plus footnotes or endnotes. It does not include the bibliography, abstract, any appendix, figure legends, tables, front matter, and non-substantive elements.

Appendices are permitted when supplementary material is required, e.g., data sets, sample questionnaires, sample interviews, or archival resources. Appendices must not be used to stretch the main exposition; words will add to the overall word count when appendices are misused.

format regulations

The dissertation must be uploaded via the course Moodle site. Formatting issues, such as line spacing, etc., should be agreed with your supervisor. As a default guide, dissertations should be single-spaced, 12-point font with 2.5cm margins throughout. In all cases, ensure the final product is a single package that is easy to read and easy to follow. Continuous pagination throughout is required. Ideally, use a header or footer so that your name appears throughout the thesis. A table of contents is not required.

The printed edition of the dissertation not need be bound.

A cover page must be provided, including the following information:

  • full title of the dissertation
  • your name and current UCL e-mail address
  • 2012-13 [the current academic session]
  • these details: ”HPSC3004: Dissertation, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London”

The written dissertation should contain the following sections (in this sequence): 

  1. title page
  2. abstract, maximum 300 words - this is not included in your word count
  3. [sections]
  4. [appendices]
  5. [bibliography]

Please obtain your supervisor’s approval for variations to this sequence.

Your system for citations and notations must be approved by your supervisor. If no other guides seem useful, refer to the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. (Reference copies are available in the UCL library.) Whatever the system, a complete, single, separate list of references (i.e., a bibliography) must be provided in your dissertation. This list must be orderly and uniform in format. It must include all items cited in the text and must omit items not used.

marking process

Dissertation(s) will be marked by the supervisor and other STS examiners as well as by examiners external to UCL. Students can expect provisional written feedback from the STS examiners normally within two weeks of submission.

All examiners will be asked to use a standard rubric as the starting point for assessing dissertations. This rubric will be circulated during the session. Students are strongly encouraged to obtain clear guidance from their supervisor regarding specific criteria for assessment regarding their particular project.

STS offers several student awards, intending to honour outstanding performance in the degree. We offer the STS dissertation prize for the best final mark on the written dissertation (not the course overall). In the case of a numerical tie, the award normally goes to the candidate with the higher mark in the presentation component of the course.

general criteria for assessment

Because dissertations vary widely, universal criteria for assessment are difficult to prescribe. Staff use the following general guidelines. Table 1 focuses on a hierarchy of cognitive activities favoured in assessment decisions.

class 1 (70% and above)

  • synthesis showing breadth of knowledge and insight into subject as well as evidence of extensive scholarship
  • some of the following qualities: originality, analytical ability, methodologically self-aware, evidence of significant self-direction
  • thorough bibliography, well used and appropriately juxtaposed
  • organization, writing and presentation to a professional standard

Ordinary and good first class performances receive a mark in the range, 70-79%. Marks in the 80-85% range should be considered superb; such marks might be expected in 1 in 50 projects. Marks above 85% should be reserved for a quite outstanding performance. 

class 2i (60-69%)

  • work of a high standard but does not solidly meet the criteria for a first-class mark. Comprehensive knowledge that could have come from secondary sources. 
  • clear project definition and notable progress

An uneven dissertation, in which some components are of first-class standard but the dissertation is limited in its entirety, should be marked in the class 2i range.

class 2ii (50-59%)

  • adequate but undistinguished treatment of the topic, with omissions or inaccuracies
  • reasonable coverage, balance, and writing, with no grave lapses, imbalance, or major errors; some confusions

class 3 and pass (49% and below)

  • serious omissions, inaccuracies, irrelevant major digressions, poor standard of presentation but evidence of some serious effort.
  • sloppy presentation; weak or limited bibliography

Page last modified on 29 aug 12 08:13 by Joe Cain

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