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A handbook for students undertaking a dissertation as part of their


School of the Built Environment

Heriot-Watt University


A handbook for students undertaking a dissertation as part of their


Important information and guidance for all students in the School of the
Built Environment who are undertaking a dissertation


Definition of roles and responsibilities
Dissertation selection
Time management
Dissertation presentation
Plagiarism and referencing
Backup documentation
Assessment procedure
Research methods



This handbook should be read in conjunction with the supplementary

dissertation information that relates specifically to your programme. This will
provide additional information you will need to know for the preparation of
your dissertation
This handbook offers advice for students undertaking a dissertation as part of their
undergraduate or postgraduate degree studies within the School of the Built Environment.
The guide contains information relating to mandatory presentation specifications including
layout, format and structure which all dissertations submitted to the School must conform to.
Regulations governing plagiarism and late submission procedures are also outlined. In
addition the guide also provides good practice advice that is relevant to all types of
dissertation, explaining some of the features to be found in good dissertations as well as
highlighting some of the pitfalls and bad practices to be avoided. Following this advice will
greatly increase your chances of obtaining a good grade for your work.
Programme and Course specific information
Reference is made throughout the text to programme specific dissertation guidance, which
should be read in conjunction with this handbook. This will be issued separately by your
dissertation director and contains information relating to your particular programme and
course relating to:


Submission date
Criteria used in assessing your dissertation
Extension of Time procedures for dissertations submitted late.



Every student in the School will have their work overseen by a supervisor who is an academic
member of staff. The student will work with the supervisor for the duration of the dissertation.
Procedures for allocating a supervisor differ from programme to programme, and you will be
advised of these procedures for your particular programme before commencement of the
dissertation. The Supervisor is the person with whom the student should work closely.

The onus is on the student to make contact with the Supervisor, and to arrange and
adhere to a programme of regular meetings thereafter. The Supervisor should not have
to chase students in order to check on their work progress. The Supervisor should
advise on the structure and suitability of the dissertation, comment on draft work
submitted, be of support throughout, and warn the student if the work is not thought to
be of a satisfactory standard.
You should maintain contact with your Supervisor throughout the preparation of your
dissertation. A common pitfall is to go long periods of time without making any contact
with the supervisor. If you are dissatisfied with your Supervisor you should raise the
matter with the Dissertation Director or course leader and, if you remain dissatisfied,
with the Head of School. Students should not expect staff to read and comment on draft
chapters at short notice.

Most members of staff have a personal interest / expertise in the subjects that they
supervise. This makes them ideal people with whom to discuss all aspects of your
dissertation - make sure that you use them. It is essential to maintain dialogue with
your Supervisor to discuss progress, work undertaken since last meeting, obtain
feedback on completed work etc. It is important for you that your effort, application,
achievement, initiative and ideas are properly evaluated and this can only happen if
you keep in regular contact with your Supervisor.
Some dissertations will require some kind of assistance from outside the University.
All approaches to agencies (industry, laboratory, library or government agency) or
individuals for information, interviews etc must be made with the approval of the
Supervisor, and not independently by a student. This restriction especially applies to the
use of questionnaires.
Always bear in mind however, that the successful completion of the dissertation is
the responsibility of the student, not the Supervisor.
Dissertation Director:
Each degree programme area has appointed a dissertation director. This person has the
overall responsibility for the academic leadership of the dissertation and its strategic
management within the relevant degree programme area. Specifically the dissertation
director will be responsible for:

setting and reviewing of the modules learning aims and objectives

presenting the module marks to the relevant degree programme

examination board for consideration;

providing academic guidance to students on topic selection and


considering claims for extensions of time and personal mitigating

circumstances and the presentation of recommendations on such
matters to the relevant degree programme examination board;

liaison with individual dissertation supervisors and / or students to

overcome difficulties that may arise due to personal conflicts, poor
performance, unsatisfactory progress etc;

working with relevant course leaders to select a sample of appropriate

dissertations for dispatch to external examiners and if necessary
liaison with course leaders to establish viva voce examinations for
individual students as required;

providing advice and guidance to students on matters related to

research methods and on dissertation structure and/ or presentation
when the nature of the work does not comply with established norms;

organising the efficient and coherent assessment of all dissertations

submitted within the relevant degree programme area.
The procedures and approach to selecting a suitable topic will be explained to you in good
time before work on the dissertation has to commence. The dissertation topic may either

be self generated by the student or selected from a published list of dissertation titles

offered by academics related to a particular degree programme:

Students who wish to generate their own dissertation should be aware that this
must be done with guidance from an academic or the Dissertation Director.
These members of staff have experience of what is required of a dissertation and
will be able to advise a student whether the necessary supervision, resources and
support will be available.

Students who select their dissertation title from the published list should contact
the academic concerned to discuss the requirements.



The dissertation you are undertaking is likely to be a demanding piece of project

management. It is vital that you are aware of the resources you have, the deadlines
that need to be met and the relation between different tasks (e.g. are there some
things that have to be completed before other activities can begin? can other tasks be
done in parallel?). In the end you have to manage the process yourself, and each
dissertation has to be organised in its own way, depending e.g. on the topic, what you
already know etc. You are strongly advised to plan out your work, discuss that plan
with your Supervisor and monitor it as you go along, adjusting as necessary.
Each student should arrange a first meeting with his/her supervisor as soon as the
dissertation work begins. Off-campus and distance learning students may find
dialogue by email or telephone a convenient means of meeting. This should be
explored between supervisor and student to agree the best means of working.
It is most important to maintain steady progress on the research work throughout the
duration of its preparation. A dissertation cannot be completed satisfactorily in an
intensive campaign because the planning of interviews, fieldwork, procurement of
materials and experimental work takes time.
The final date for submission of the complete dissertation is listed in your
programme specific guidance which supplements this document. You need to plan
back from that date, to ensure that all the key tasks are completed on time. Table 1
(overleaf) gives you a basic model of key stages to work to. The length of each stage
may vary from dissertation to dissertation and also depends on the mode of study.
You should plan in weeks for each stage at the beginning with your Supervisor and
stick to the plan during the process. Do not let that time slip away unnoticed. Keep a
weekly plan of the work you are doing for the dissertation and monitor what you
actually do.
Ensure you stay within the maximum of word limit the main text as set for your
dissertation in your programme handbook.
A late submission penalty for UG dissertations will operate in respect of a dissertation
handed in after the deadline. Please refer to your programme specific guidance for the
details of the appropriate late working penalty.

The School does not guarantee to mark and assess, in time for the relevant exam
board, any dissertation submitted late. The assessment of late submissions may be
deferred until the following exam board with the consequence that those students
will be unable to graduate until six months later than their cohort.
Table 1

Dissertation stages



Formulate a research proposal (as part of the Research Methods module for some courses); identify
research aims, methodology; background reading and initial literature review; and get feedback from
the appropriate staff .

Revise research proposal according to the feedback comments and arrange first meeting with

Finalise research proposal and get advice from Supervisor on skills and techniques required; adjust
specific research aims, methodology, case studies, fieldwork or laboratory work; further background
reading and literature review.

Organise any necessary field/laboratory work. Completion of draft literature review.

Detailed outline of chapters drafted, most of the field/laboratory completed. Analysis of data/survey
results. Identify any gaps where extra work or reading are necessary.

Bring together all outline materials to prepare the first complete draft. This will either be far too long
or too short, the English may be poor, it may be repetitive and some of the maps or diagrams
originally envisaged will have to be discarded and new ones drawn. Always keep a copy of any draft
you let out of your hands, in case it gets lost! Also back up a copy on a disk.

Preparation of final draft. This is really a correction stage of the first draft. You should consult your
Supervisor particularly at this stage. At this stage everything must be complete, correct spelling and
punctuation, all figure and table numbers known, page numbering etc.
Typing and photocopying of drawings, maps etc; collation of all sheets; checking and correcting
typing errors; check binding requirements. Binding of dissertation.

Submission of dissertation to the School Office.





One library copy plus one additional copy of the dissertation must be submitted to
the School Administration on or before the appropriate submission date as outlined
in your programme handbook. These copies are not returned to students so it is
important to keep your own copy for reference.
The length of the main text for your particular course, excluding Tables, Appendices
etc. is detailed in your programme handbook. Students who exceed this limit may be
penalised in the marking of the dissertation. A short report will be harder to write
than a long one, but the additional time in editing and refining the text will be well
spent. Conciseness however should not be an excuse for excessive brevity.

The writing of this dissertation will probably take longer than expected. Begin by
blocking out the material, trying out various ways of organising it and different ways
of saying things. One advantage of an early start is that the process of writing
clarifies thinking and reveals weaknesses in the work while there is still time to take
remedial action.
The dissertation should be written in an impersonal style, i.e. the use of '
I'or '
should be avoided. The dissertation should be written in a consistent manner, i.e. in
the same tense and format. Where symbols or abbreviations are used, they should be
used consistently and be of the standard nomenclature for the particular field of
study. There should be a glossary of symbols if they are numerous (see 5.2 h)
below). Convention requires the use of an impersonal style in the narrative past tense.
Other tenses are of course necessary at times as when, for instance, the writer states an
existing or future condition. It is important to adopt a mode of writing that keeps the
reader interested (and aware!), and this can be achieved more easily if the active voice
is used. This is a more lively and direct form of communication which requires fewer
words to say the same thing and as a consequence combines brevity with sharpness.
For example:

"The site was studied and it was seen that ..."


"Examination of the site showed that ..."

There is no objection to the occasional use of the personal pronoun, but its introduction
should be discreet so as not to draw the reader'
s attention from the matter under
discussion. An appropriate use of the personal pronoun would be to establish the
authorship of opinion. This can be a useful way of showing clearly your own views
and where you are attempting to advance beyond what other writers have already
For example:

" ... and I believe that this was because ... "
" ... this argument leads me to conclude that ... "

as compared with:
" ... and it is thought (by whom?) that this was because ... "
It is important to use language which is seen to be neutral and this is particularly
important where matters of race or gender are involved.
Graphical communications are more efficient than words for many kinds of
information. Use illustrations freely - pictures, graphs, diagrams, maps, flow-charts but choose them wisely, and remember that they have to be carefully designed with
the text to meet the reader'
s needs. A simple sketch may be better than a detailed
drawing. Don'
t use an elaborate table of numbers if all the reader needs to know is
the shape of a curve. If an illustration is taken from the work of another then it is
necessary to acknowledge it or quote the source.


Dissertation layout / format

Each copy of the dissertation must be spirally bound between clear plastic covers.
The front cover or front sheet for the dissertation should be printed or photo-copied
onto coloured paper using the template made available from the School
Administration. The dissertation should include a sheet of coloured card immediately
in front of the back plastic cover.
Typing should be of even quality with clear black characters the same size as this
text (12 point). Laser printing of the text is recommended. Drawings should be in
black ink. Photocopies or comparable permanent processes are acceptable. Paper
should be A4 size and of sufficient opacity for normal reading. Only one side of
each sheet should be used. The margin at the binding edge should be 40 mm, other
margins 20 mm. One-and-a-half line spacing shall be used for the main body of
your text, except for indented quotations of three lines length or more which must be
presented indented both sides and single line spaced. Page numbering commences
immediately and continues to the final page. It may help to look at the layout of
dissertations from previous years'held in the School Resource Centre, but remember
that all dissertations are available, not only the good ones.
5.2.1 Structure
The sections of the dissertation should appear in the following order:


Title page
Statement of authorship
Table of contents
List of tables and illustrations
Abstract (approximately 300 words in length)
Glossary of abbreviations
Main sections/chapters

Text style and features




Text style - use full left and right justification. Use bold emphasis sparingly.
Use capital letters as little as possible, usually for the first letter of headings,
sub-headings, captions, names and proper nouns. All headings should be
ranged left.
Font - use 12 point Times New Roman generally throughout the script.







Headings, - in bold not underlined in 14 pt Times New Roman. For main

headings leave two blank lines above and one blank line below. Initial
capital letter for first word only. Use 14 pt font size. Number headings in
sequence within a chapter with an indent between the number and the
heading. Do not end headings with a full stop. Range any second line of a
heading left. Do not start headings at the foot of a page or with only one line
of text below. Decide on a hierarchy of font size within the text and adopt it
consistently throughout.
Lists - use Arabic numerals (1,2,3) or bullet points for emphasis, and indent
each item. Keep the numbers or bullet points ranged on the left margin.
Leave one blank line above and below lists, but no blank lines between items
on the list.
Punctuation - Leave two character spaces after full stops and one space after
all other punctuation.
Paragraphs - do not indent and do not leave a blank line between paragraphs.
Do not number paragraphs
Pages - shall be numbered throughout the dissertation in Arabic style (1,2,3)
including all appendices. Pagination shall be set at the centre of the bottom
of the page and shall commence at the start of the text and be positioned
approximately 10 mm above the edge. All other material that precedes the
start of the general text, such as table of contents, lists of tables and diagrams,
acknowledgements and abstract shall be numbered as ... i, ii, iii, iv etc and
such numbers shall be positioned at the centre of the bottom of the page.
Mathematical Symbols and Equations - These should be word processed
where possible. Any freehand symbols must be neat and blend in with the
typewritten text. Each mathematical symbol must be defined when it first
occurs. Express all quantities in SI (System International) units.
Photographic prints shall be on single weight paper or mounted on cartridge
paper and bound into the
dissertation. Numbers and captions shall be at the bottom of illustrations.
Maps and diagrams should normally be A4 size but it is permissible to have
them folded and bound in a pocket at the end. A separate folder of size other
than A4 should be included only in very exceptional circumstances.

Tables, diagrams and other illustrative material

These should be listed after the contents page with their number, title and page
number. Position tables and diagrams in the text, soon after where they are first
mentioned, not at the end of the chapter or section. Tables and diagrams generally
look best at the top or the bottom of a page. Keep tables simple. Range tables left on
the page and range headings left with the data in the columns. Put only two or three
spaces between columns and do not space out a table to fill a page width.
A smaller font size maybe used for tables and captions than in the text, but make sure

it is still readable. Put the table or diagram number and heading on the line above the
table or the diagram, ranged left with a capital letter for the first word only. Leave
one blank line between the text above and the heading for the table or diagram and
one blank line below the table or diagram before the text continues.
If a very large table will not fit upright on the page, print it landscape on a separate
page with the heading in a landscape orientation.
Footnotes and endnotes
Generally footnotes and endnotes should be avoided, but if necessary position them
under a single line rule within the text area.

Presentation of the preliminary sections

The opening pages of your dissertation establish the style and feel of the work and
they should be set out in the sequence that follows below:N B
not all the following preliminary material may be applicable in all
circumstances. You should check the material to be included with your dissertation
Title Page
This should be the page immediately inside the covers that bind the dissertation and
it should include :
the title of the work - in capitals, at least 18 pt, 12-15 words
maximum, centred, Times New Roman font
the full name of the author, in capitals,16pt, Times New Roman font
(iii) the qualification - eg BSc (Hons) Construction Project Management for which the work is submitted, in upper and lower case, 14pt, Times
new Roman font
the title of the school and university - i.e. School of the Built
Environment, Heriot-Watt University, upper and lower case, 14 pt,
Times New Roman font
the year of submission, 14 pt, Times New Roman font
Statement of authorship
A statement should be included on its own on the page following the title page which
must read as follows and which must be signed and dated by the student:DECLARATION
I . , confirm that this work submitted for assessment is
my own and is expressed in my own words. Any uses made within it of the
works of other authors in any form (e.g. ideas, equations, figures, text, tables,
programmes) are properly acknowledged at the point of their use. A full list
of the references employed has been included.
Signed: .
Date: ..

(iii) Table of contents

The next page(s) must contain a table of contents. This should list all the chapters
and main sub-headings, references, bibliography (if any) and appendices. Ensure
that each page reference is correct and that the titles of chapters and sections of
chapters are those that have been used in the final form of the text.
List of tables and diagrams
Following the table of contents page(s) you should list any tables and/or diagrams
that you have included in the text. These should be listed and show :- a) their
reference number i.e.Table 1.1 or Fig. 1.1 - which would be the reference number for
the first table or diagram included in chapter one of your dissertation, b) their title abbreviated as required, and c) the page number on which they have been positioned.
Acknowledgments - single page, printed single space
It is important that this should include not only those that the student wishes to thank
for their assistance, such as individuals or organisations who have contributed
information and data, and publishers for permission to reproduce copyright materials,
but also HWU staff, for providing guidance and assistance, parents, family, friends
and others who have provided support and assistance to your studies in general. On
some occasions sources may wish to remain anonymous and in such cases their
wishes should be respected and they should be cited accordingly. The
acknowledgments page should be written in single line spaced text.
Abstract - single page, printed single space
Make sure the abstract summarises the main points of the dissertation, including its
conclusions and findings. The abstract should be in single line spaced text, written
impersonally, concisely and be intelligible to non-experts who maybe reading it out
of context. The abstract should not be a transcript of the table of contents but must
be informative and tell the reader what the research was about, how it was
undertaken and what was discovered but not how the dissertation has been organised.
Do not begin with this dissertation .... or this research .... Instead use a sentence
which introduces the importance of the topic. Use between 200-300 words. Ensure
the following information is contained on the abstract page, namely, dissertation title,
students name, programme, and year of submission.
The essential elements of the abstract are:
Background: A simple opening sentence or two placing the work in context.
Aims: One or two sentences giving the purpose of the work.
Method(s): One or two sentences explaining what was done.
Results: One or two sentences indicating the main findings.
Conclusions: One sentence giving the most important consequence of the work.
Leave two blank lines after the text setting out your abstract and insert a sub-heading
Keywords (bold) followed by a maximum of six words that can be used by others
seeking to decide whether your work would be of relevance to them in their work.
(vii) Glossary of terms
Phrases, names of institutions, abbreviations etc that have been used in the text and
which require full description in order for the reader to gain complete appreciation
should be listed separately under the heading indicated above.


Presentation of the main text

Following the completion of the preliminaries section of your dissertation you should
then arrange the main text of your work in a recognised manner that follows a
conventional structure.
The dissertation should be divided into suitable sections that follow the argument
through from its introduction, critical assessment of existing work, through its
analysis of data and onto its discussions and its conclusions. This should mean that
the text is logically broken down into chapters that are each relatively self contained
and which are each numbered consecutively.
Should you feel that your work will not be capable of conforming to the norms
shown then you MUST liase with your dissertation supervisor and/or programme
dissertation director so as to agree a more appropriate format for the presentation of
your work.
Proof reading is a vital aspect of dissertation writing. Check all text thoroughly at
two levels, firstly for overall sense and grammatical correctness, then for spelling
and typographical errors. The word processing must be to an acceptable standard.
Make use of the word processing functions that can help you, such as spell check,
grammar check, autotext, autocorrect, headings, table format choice, etc Equations,
references and figure numbers should be double-checked. It is advisable to check the
final draft with your Supervisor before submitting the final dissertation.

Common mistakes

Over the years staff involved in assessing undergraduate dissertations have noted a
number of failings that are consistently made in students'submissions despite the
guidance they receive. The following is a list of the most common deficiencies in
many submissions:

poor or inadequate referencing

vague or non-existent hypothesis
non-existent or paltry literature review
unsubstantiated assertions
excessive amount of words
little or no critical analysis
lack of rigour and clarity
inadequate evidence and lack of argument
untidy or poorly presented graphics and text
bad spelling and poor grammar, even with spell-checking software
lack of focus
conclusions which are not supported by the results





This dissertation must be your own unaided work and as such you must maintain the
highest standards of personal integrity. The university has an established policy on
academic impropriety and takes a serious view of copying, plagiarism and cheating.
Any student suspected of submitting a dissertation which is not their own unaided
work will be subjected to the full investigative procedures set down by the
university. If you have been found to have acted in an inappropriate manner you
could risk having penalties imposed on your work that would prevent you from
receiving your degree.
All dissertations require you to search existing literature. It is a mark of strength not
weakness, that all sources of statements and information are acknowledged. If
especially helpful or relevant statements or phrases are quoted directly then the full
reference, including page numbers, must be given in accordance with the Harvard
system. Quotations which are lifted without being attributed will be considered as
examples of plagiarism and treated accordingly.
Plagiarism may be deliberate or inadvertent in that it occurs as a result of poor
referencing when writing up notes of what you have read. Both forms of plagiarism
are considered to be serious and will result in the appropriate penalties being applied.
All material in the dissertation must be your own except where properly
acknowledged. In your research you will be drawing on a wide range of published
material and possibly ideas and information from other unpublished sources such as
material found on the internet. This is all right and to be expected however you must
analyse and synthesise such information alongside any original research you
undertake. All source material must be acknowledged and referenced in the body of
the text as appropriate and not left to be listed in a general list of material within a
bibliography - this is not appropriate and is not academically acceptable.
The invention of statistics or interview results will be regarded as cheating and will
be treated accordingly. Equally so the detailed assistance of any source which is not
named and acknowledged. It must be clear from the presentation of the dissertation
how you have carried out your research and you should give some thought to
providing evidence that confirms that the statistics and/or interview results included
in your dissertation are genuine and original to yourself. You should always keep
your dissertation supervisor fully informed about your activities and progress.
Concern for and the avoidance of plagiarism is not just a matter of ethics or courtesy.
It is also a matter of scientific accuracy and good professional practice.
PLAGIARISM IS HEAVILY PENALISED. The University's policy is that any
case of plagiarism will be treated as "cheating" and put before the University's
Student Disciplinary Committee.


References and citations

Always indicate the exact source of material which is not your own. This includes
direct quotations, indirect quotations, closely paraphrased material, facts which may
otherwise be disputed opinions or authorities that you use in your arguments etc.
This is a matter of academic integrity and remember a meticulously referenced piece
of writing is a sign of academic strength not weakness and it serves to give your
work authority.
It is important that you keep accurate notes of all material that you may use as
sources of information and ideas in your dissertation as you find them. Do not leave
the referencing of your work until the later stages of the dissertation writing process.
You may like to consider keeping a card index system or maintaining separate word
processing files - whatever method you adopt if you use it consistently it will avoid
you having to retrace your steps in terms of re-reading material which will seem like
a waste of your time.
The form of referencing to be used is the Harvard system. This system requires you
to include the appropriate reference to the authors surname and year of publication in
rounded brackets, at the appropriate point in your text. This ensures that the reader
has full access to the details. A full list of your references should be presented in
alphabetical order as a separate section towards the end of your dissertation. Full
details of how to set out your references using the Harvard system including those
found on the internet can be found below.
Some types of dissertation can involve the discussion of legal subjects. Often such
studies will deal with numerous legal cases and statutes. It may well be valuable to
append, after the references section a separate list of cases and statutes that you have
referred to in the main body of your text. See below for an example of how to deal
with the citing of legal cases.
Different information will be needed to provide an adequate reference to the various
sorts of publication. Listed below are the elements that should be included in a
reference to each of the most common types of publication. Within the text of the
document, work and ideas can be cited using the authors surname and year of
publication. This enables it to be looked up in the list of references at the end of the
paper, sorted alphabetically, by authors surnames, and presented without bullets or
numbers. If the authors name is not part of the phrasing of the sentence, then it will be
in brackets with the year (Kaka 2002) whereas if you are using the authors name as
part of the text of the sentence, then only the year is in brackets. When citing author
and year together, there is no need to separate them with a comma. The precise location
within the source material can be given as page number(s) after a colon (Aspinall 2002:

Referencing a book
1. Name(s) of author(s)/editor(s) Surname first, followed by initials, but without
full-stops after initials. (If editors, add Ed. or Eds, as appropriate, in brackets)
2. Year of publication, in brackets, with no punctuation after it.
3. Title of the book in italics, followed by full-stop.
4. Edition, if not the first
5. Place of publication followed by colon
6. Name of publisher
7. Number of volumes, if more than one
Burns, T and Stalker, G M (1966) The management of innovation. London:
Walker, A (2002) Project management in construction. 4th ed. Oxford: Blackwell
Referencing a paper/chapter in a book
1. Name(s) of author(s) of the paper/chapter, surname first, followed by initials,
but without full-stops after initials.
2. Year of publication, in brackets (no full-stop or comma after it)
3. Title of the paper or chapter (not in italics)
4. Editor(s) of the book, prefaced with the word In: and followed by Ed. or Eds. in
5. Title of the book in italics
6. Volume number, part number, where applicable
7. Place of publication
8. Name of publisher
Flint, F.O. (1984) Advances in light microscopy of foods. In: G.G. Birch and K.J.
Parker, (eds.) Control of food quality and food analysis. London: Elsevier
Applied Science Publishers.
Referencing an article in a periodical
1. Name(s) of author(s) of the article
2. Year of publication, in brackets (no full-stop or comma after it)
3. Title of article
4. Full title of the periodical (or an accepted abbreviation, as given in the World
List of Scientific Periodicals, but the full title is preferred).
5. Volume number, in bold
6. Issue number, in brackets. You dont always have to give the issue number, if
pages in issues within the volume are numbered consecutively, but for those
journals where each issue re-starts at page 1, it is essential.
7. Page numbers
Wantanakorn, D, Mawdesley, M J and Askew, W H (1999) Management errors in
construction. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management,
6(2), 112-20.

Reference to a thesis

Name of author
Year of publication, in brackets
Title of thesis, in italics
Type of degree (e.g. PhD or MSc) usually: Unpublished PhD thesis
Name of the Department
Name of the University

El-Askari Khaled Mohamed, S (2000) A methodology for expenditure planning of
irrigation infrastructure using hydraulic modelling techniques, Unpublished
PhD Thesis, Department of Engineering, University of Southampton.
Referencing a paper in a conference

Author(s) of the paper

Year of publication in brackets (no full-stop or comma after it)
Title of the paper or chapter (not in italics)
Editor(s) of the conference proceedings, prefaced with the word In: and
followed by Ed. or Eds. in brackets.
5. Title of the conference in italics
6. Date of conference
7. Location of conference
8. Publisher of Proceedings
9. Volume number, part number, where applicable
10. Start and end page numbers of the whole paper

Ashton, P and Gidado, K (2001) Risk associated with inadequate site investigation
procedures under design and build procurement systems. In: Akintoye, A
(Ed.), 17th Annual ARCOM Conference, 5-7 September 2001, University of
Salford. Association of Researchers in Construction Management, Vol. 1,
Referencing material on the internet
More and more material can be located on the internet. You should be careful to
ascertain the origin of material that you wish to reference from this source. It is
important to try and access as much refereed material as possible and you should be
aware that not all material located on the internet has been subjected to rigorous
academic refereeing. Nonetheless if you wish to cite a reference to material found on
the internet then the following example provides a guideline that you should be
adhere to, namely:Sloan, B (1998) Crime statistics:how valid? Social Work Review Online, 2 (3)
March http://www.bulb.bath.ac.uk/bulb/home.html (1.5.98)
Referencing a government report
Key material can often be located in government reports which are frequently
published. Should you wish to reference this type of material then the following
example provides a guideline that you should adhere to, namely

DoE (1990) Housing and Construction Statistics 1979-1989: HMSO

Scottish Office Development Department (SODD) (1998) National Planning
Guideline (NPPG) 8, Town Centres and Retailing, Edinburgh: Scottish Office
Specialised legal references
Any legal textbook, such the text by Dane and Thomas (1996) would clearly indicate
the method of citing these. For instance, if you were basing your arguments on
information gathered about a particular case that you have read about in a text by
Williams (1987) then you would in your text set out the reference as .... this can be
seen from the way Williams (1987) cites Calthorpe v McOscar (1924) 1 KB 716.
This means that the case referred to can be found in the reports of the Kings Bench
Division, page 716. Since this abbreviation is generally accepted, there is no need to
specify the full form in the references section of your dissertation. If several cases
are cited, a separate list, preferably an index, should be compiled separately to the
authors listed in your references section
Of course, if you use bibliographical software, such as EndNote, available from
www.endnote.com, all of this formatting will be done for you. An appropriate style file
for EndNote is available from the Internet eg www.arcom.ac.uk.
Where you have to repeat references throughout the text you may use the following

Ibid (which means as immediately above), then page number/s (p./pp.).

op. cit. (which means work quoted elsewhere), after the author'
s surname, and
date of publication in brackets (if you have quoted more than one of the
s of the author in question), then page numbers as before.

References are listed at the end of the dissertation (in a section headed References)
and arranged in alphabetical order by author and date. Every reference in the list
should enable the reader to identify the work cited and to locate the specific passage
referred to in the text.
The dissertation should not normally contain a bibliography.



Throughout the dissertation students may generate additional documentation as part

of their study. This may take the form of work programmes, progress reports etc.
Although such documentation may not form the content of the main text, it is
recommended that such documentation is collated and submitted in an Appendix of
the Dissertation Report.




PRACTICAL (site or laboratory based) WORK THAT THEY ARE TO CARRY
Students undertaking work of a practical nature must be aware that University Safety
Regulations exist regarding health and safety and electrical safety. These regulations
are available from the student Resource Centre and your attention is drawn to them.
Consult your Supervisor before undertaking any experimental work.


Your dissertation will be assessed against the criteria defined for your course, using
the appropriate marking criteria set out in your programme specific guidance.
The general procedure is as following:
1) You must submit your dissertation by the deadline. Late submissions will be
penalised or failed in accordance with the specific guidance set for your
programme, unless extensions are granted.
2) If your dissertation exceeds the word limit, it may not be accepted for
3) Each dissertation will be marked independently by two members of staff and one of
them could be the Supervisor. Some MEng courses will require a third Industrial
4) Once the markers have completed their marking report they will then have a
meeting to seek to reach an agreed mark. In determining the final mark, you may
be asked to attend an interview/viva.
5) Exceptionally, where the markers can not reach an agreement, the School will
appoint an additional internal arbiter. This person will have available the marking
sheets of the other markers, plus any information presented by the supervisor and
student. The role of this arbiter is then to arbitrate and decide the mark to be
awarded in the context of the dissertation, taking into account the views of the
markers and student.
6) The Dissertation Director will then implement a checking procedure to ensure
consistency of marking.
7) The Dissertations Director and the course leader will select a sample of
Dissertations and dispatch these to the appropriate External Examiners. The
Externals will be asked to verify that the marking procedures are fair and of the
appropriate standard.



The dissertation allows students to complete a substantial piece of work that

demonstrates understanding of how to tackle a research problem by applying a
rigorous and strategic problem-solving methodology. To complete a dissertation
successfully, you need to be familiar with major research methodologies.
The School runs a research method module in the third year for some undergraduate
courses. This module aims to introduce students to the assumptions and approaches
adopted in research and to familiarise students with practical issues involved in
conducting and completing a research dissertation. It is also intended to assist in
developing students'own research proposals for the final year dissertation. Students
doing these courses must pass successfully the research method module.
Those students who, as part of their degree course, do not take the 3rd year research
module, will have a series of seminars delivered throughout term 1 of year 4
covering similar material.
The university library has a stock of textbooks on research methods. Each of them
may have a different emphasis on specific areas, some on social research and some
on classic scientific method. You should consult those at the proposal stage and
evaluate the suitability of a specific research methodology toward solving your
research question.
Either during the research method module or at the beginning of your dissertation,
you should prepare a research proposal. The proposal should: a) define a topic which
is both researchable and manageable within the bounds of a final year dissertation; b)
conduct a preliminary literature search and review on the selected topic and provide a
background and justification to your research question; c) establish clear aims or
hypothesis and objectives for the research; e) specify the detailed works to be carried
out and to produce a structure for the research which indicates the sources and
methodologies to be employed and a feasible working programme. A good student
research proposal normally includes the following elements:
a) The main research title (no more than 15 words) and subtitle (if any)
b) Literature review and justification of your research (about two pages): This should
be the preliminary review of literature on your selected topic. It should address
issues such as history of policy changes, problems of practice, new initiatives and
proposed changes, research that has been carried out in the recent past, and what
questions have not been answered or problems have to be solved.
c) Aim/hypothesis and objectives of the research (about one page with one overall
aim/hypothesis to be followed by 3 to 5 specific objectives stated in a logical order).
Your research aim/hypothesis should address the problems identified in the
literature review and bring new knowledge or insights to the subject area. Your
objectives should list the specific tasks which will be carried out to achieve your
research aim or test your hypothesis.
d) Research methodologies (about one page and a half on major methods such as

laboratory work, case studies, interviews, surveys, using secondary materials and
statistics, desktop based review, etc.) Some justification and practical details are
expected on each methodology proposed. The proposed methods should help to
achieve all the research objectives and its aim.
e) Anticipated findings/contributions to knowledge (about half page) In this section
you can refer back to the literature review and justification and indicate your
potential contribution to the research area.
f) Working programme and time table (about half page). Detailed planning of
research stages should be provided. You may use a diagram instead of text
g) Planned chapter structure: (about half page) brief description of main contents of
each chapter.
h) References: (about one page) This should include the major references you have
used in your literature review and should cover major policy documents, key texts
and journal articles on your topic.