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IP905-60 Community-Based Learning Dissertation

Liberal Arts
Taught Postgraduate Level
Module leader
Lauren Bird
Credit value
Module duration
22 weeks
80% coursework, 20% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module is the final project for Liberal Arts MA PGT students who seek to explore the intersections of transdisciplinary knowledge and its social engagement. The module is centred around the development and production of an original self-guided project that demonstrates community-based learning.

Module web page

Module aims

To conduct a self-guided, transdisciplinary project that includes a focus on the relationship between knowledge production (broadly defined) and society.

To develop independent research and advanced critical-thinking skills within a community-based learning project.

To apply advanced research skills and original approaches to civic engagement acquired from other modules in the PG programme.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

The key purpose of this dissertation module is to develop research skills and practical skills regarding civic engagement and transdisciplinary knowledge within a community-based learning project.

The module will begin with an overview of project management, encouraging students to think through which type of project they would like to pursue and why. Students will need to submit a prospectus outlining their project and its timeline in Term 1. Once the prospectus is submitted and approved, they will begin their fieldwork. Students will need to complete 125 hours of community-based fieldwork as part of their projects.

Students will then continue their chosen project and submit the final written outputs: a 6,000-word project, and four x 500-word reflective entries done over the course of their field work. The module will culminate in a viva voce examination including an oral presenation by the student. This viva will not only include discussion of the student's research, but will also include the presentation of a detailed impact/dissemination plan for ways that the results of their project might engage with at least two different publics in various areas (e.g. academic, industry, non-profit, popular, etc...).

Students will receive several lectures throughout the module on topics such as:

  1. Project Planning: Ethical and Epistemological Decisions
  2. Advanced Transdisciplinary Research: Engaging with Sources
  3. Knowledge Production Across Fields
  4. Embedding/translating your Research within the Community

In addition, students will receive six hours of supervision throughout the year.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Meaningfully engage in transdiciplinary approaches to real-world problems via a nuanced understanding of scholarship from multiple disciplines.
  • Apply evidence-based approaches to complex problems that explore the intersection of knowledge production and civil society.
  • Communicate their findings effectively and professionally to multiple publics in both written and oral forms.
  • Critically reflect on the challenges, ethics, and benefits of public engagement.
  • Conduct focussed transdisciplinary investigations and produce a high-calibre community-based learning project.
  • Manage a community-based learning project and articulate their own approach to such project management
  • Explain different types of civic engagement within a variety of contexts, including both state-centric and sub/non/a/pre-national models.
Indicative reading list

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, et al., "The Craft of Research." 4th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Lamott, Anne. "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life" (New York: Anchor Books, 1995).

Allen F. Repko. "Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory" (London: Sage, 2011).

Research element

Healey & Jenkins (2009) propose that Research-led-teaching design should consider four discrete opportunities. This module has been designed to include all four of these opportunities.

  1. Research-led learning, where the module syllabus is developed from current research in relevant fields, being based on contemporary and seminal, peer reviewed and other high quality research literature. As such, all knowledge for student engagement will be consciously and specifically chosen for its merits in reference to broader academic understanding. This will initially include developing a realistic prospectus prior to undertaking research.

  2. Research-oriented learning, where students develop research and inquiry skills and techniques. Through the lectures offered in the module, bespoke supervisions, and the project proposal students will gain facility with a number of methodologies, research skills, and techniques of interdisciplinary analysis suitable to their project. Moreover, the viva voce discussion will prompt students to defend the viability, applicability, and limitations of their chosen techniques and methods.

  3. Research-based learning, where student use developing methodological skills to create original knowledge of their own. This module will provide students with the opportunity to design and conduct their own research project, while developing skills in effective research communication and dissemination.

  4. Research-tutored learning, where students engage actively in discussing high quality, contemporary and seminal research literature. This module will provide students with the opportunity to critically identify existing gaps in the wider academic knowledge and understanding.


All projects will focus on the intersection of multiple disciplinary perspectives and transdisciplinary approaches to meaningful engagement. This module will build on the research methods and civic engagement modules at the PG level, which are inherently transdisciplinary by nature.


The projects will explore international approaches through emphasis on de-centring the British Anglophone lens and the active inclusion of non-Western points of view. Students will be encouraged to use research in multiple languages (whether in translation or in the original), and to be aware of different national approaches and traditions within and across disciplines.

Subject specific skills

Subject-specific skills will vary according to the projects of the students. These projects will be linked to the PGT programme's emphasis on the intersection between transdisciplinary knowledge, engaged citizenship, and meaningful civic engagement. All students will acquire project management and research skills appropriate to their projects.

Transferable skills
  • Project management.
  • Independent, self-guided research.
  • Transdisciplinary thinking.
  • Oral and written communication.
  • Collaboration and networking skills.
  • Working with, and designing for, multiple stakeholders.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 4 sessions of 1 hour (1%)
Project supervision 6 sessions of 1 hour (1%)
Fieldwork 25 sessions of 5 hours (21%)
Assessment 465 hours (78%)
Total 600 hours
Private study description

No private study requirements defined for this module.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group D
Weighting Study time
Project Prospectus 20% 40 hours

This assessment requires students to submit a prospectus for their project, along with a reflection on the ethical and epistemological justifications for their approach.

Community-Based Learning Dissertation 50% 380 hours

Students will prepare a final community-based learning dissertation, including fieldwork. The dissertation project proposal (above) will need to be submitted and approved by the instructor prior to the start of the fieldwork.

This project will be an interdiscpilinary 6,000-word research project drawing on the fieldwork conducted by the student.

Community-Based Learning Reflection Journal 10% 20 hours

Students will be required to write four reflection reports of 500 words each throughout their project. Some of these reports may take place prior to the fieldwork, while others will be completed during the fieldwork itself. These reports will be combined and submitted as a reflective journal alongside the dissertation.

Dissertation and Engagement Plan Viva 20% 25 hours

Students will give a 15-minute oral presentation, followed by 30 minutes of questioning and discussion with the panel. The presentation should cover both their project and a plan for dissemination further civic engagement.

Feedback on assessment

All students will receive written feedback on Tabula. Additional oral feedback will be available upon request.

Past exam papers for IP905


This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 1 of TIPA-LA9Z Postgraduate Taught Community, Engagement and Belonging (MASc)