This Programme Specification refers to the current academic year and provides indicative content for information. The University will seek to deliver each course in accordance with the descriptions set out in the relevant course web pages at the time of application. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after enrolment.
This MA by Research in American Studies at Swansea will enable you to undertake a research project led by your own interests. It is a highly respected qualification which can enable a future career in academia or a wider scope for employment in fields such as education, government or the private sector. A thesis of 40,000 words will be submitted for assessment demonstrating original research with a substantive contribution to the subject area. The Masters is examined following an oral examination of the thesis (a viva voce examination or viva). You will acquire research skills for high-level work and skills and training programmes are available on campus for further support.
This Masters programme will provide students with:
- The opportunity to conduct high quality postgraduate research in a world leading research environment.
- Key skills needed to undertake advanced academic and non-academic research including qualitative and quantitative data analysis.
- Advanced critical thinking, intellectual curiosity and independent judgement.
The programme comprises three key elements:
- Entry and confirmation of candidature
- Main body of research
- Thesis and viva voce examination
The programme comprises of the undertaking of an original research project of 1 year duration full time (2 years duration part time).
Students for the Masters by Research in American Studies are examined in two parts.
The first part is a thesis which is an original body of work representing the methods and results of the research project. The word limit is 40,000 for the main text. The word limit does not include appendices (if any), essential footnotes, introductory parts and statements or the bibliography and index.
The second part is an oral examination (viva voce).
Supervision and Support
Students will be supervised by a supervisory team. Where appropriate, staff from Colleges/Schools other than the ‘home’ College/School (other Colleges/Schools) within the University will contribute to cognate research areas. There may also be supervisors from an industrial partner.
The Primary/First Supervisor will normally be the main contact throughout the student journey and will have overall responsibility for academic supervision. The academic input of the Secondary Supervisor will vary from case to case. The principal role of the Secondary Supervisor is often as a first port of call if the Primary/First Supervisor becomes unavailable. The supervisory team may also include a supervisor from industry or a specific area of professional practice to support the research. External supervisors may also be drawn from other Universities.
The primary supervisor will provide pastoral support. If necessary the primary supervisor will refer the student to other sources of support (e.g. Wellbeing, Disability, Money Advice, IT, Library, Students’ Union, Academic Services, Student Support Services, Careers Centre).
Programme Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this programme, doctoral researchers should be able to:
Knowledge & Understanding
- Critically reflect on the existing knowledge base, current problems and/or new insights, in the field of American Studies.
- Demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline.
- Apply research skills, methodologies and subject theory to the practice of research.
- Create, interpret and analyse knowledge in the specific field of study through original research.
Attitudes and values
- Undertake research tasks and make informed judgements with minimum guidance.
- Apply sound ethical principles to research, with due regard for the integrity of persons and in accordance with professional codes of conduct.
- Demonstrate self-awareness of individual and cultural diversity, and the reciprocal impact in social interaction between self and others when conducting research involving people.
- Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level.
- Approach and resolve complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
- Evaluate and apply relevant techniques for research in American Studies.
- Apply research methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, propose new hypotheses.
- Work in groups, presenting conclusions and reflecting difference of opinion.
- Implement independent research skills.
- Locate information and apply it to research practice.
- Design and implement a research project.
Skills and Competencies
- Display the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment, including the exercise of personal responsibility and initiative in complex situations.
- The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility.
- Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations.
- The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.
Progress will be monitored in accordance with Swansea University regulations. During the course of the programme, the student is expected to meet regularly with their supervisors, and at most meetings it is likely that the student’s progress will be monitored in an informal manner in addition to attendance checks. Details of the meetings should ideally be recorded on the on-line system. A minimum of four formal supervision meetings is required each year, two of which will be reported to the Postgraduate Progression and Awards Board. During these supervisory meetings the student’s progress is discussed and formally recorded on the on-line system.
The University offers training and development for Doctoral Researchers and supervisors (https://www.swansea.ac.uk/research/undertake-research-with-us/postgraduate-research/training-and-skills-development-programme/).
Swansea University’s Postgraduate Research Training Framework is structured into sections, to enable students to navigate and determine appropriate courses aligned to both their interest and their candidature stage.
There is a training framework including for example areas of Managing Information and Data, Presentation and Public Engagement, Leadership and working with others, Safety Integrity and Ethics, Impact and Commercialisation and Teaching and Demonstrating. There is also range of support in areas such as training needs, literature searching, conducting research, writing up research, teaching, applying for grants and awards, communicating research and future careers.
A range of research seminars and skills development sessions are provided within the College and across the University. These are scheduled to keep the student in touch with a broader range of material than their own research topic, to stimulate ideas in discussion with others, and to give them opportunities to such as defending their own thesis orally, and to identify potential criticisms. Additionally, the College is developing a research culture that will align with the University vision and will link with key initiatives delivered under the auspices of the University’s Academies.
Swansea University’s Research Environment combines innovation and excellent facilities to provide a home for multidisciplinary research to flourish. Our research environment encompasses all aspects of the research lifecycle, with internal grants and support for external funding and enabling impact/effect that research has beyond academia.
Swansea University is very proud of our reputation for excellent research, and for the calibre, dedication, professionalism, collaboration and engagement of our research community. We understand that integrity must be an essential characteristic of all aspects of research, and that as a University entrusted with undertaking research we must clearly and consistently demonstrate that the confidence placed in our research community is rightly deserved. The University therefore ensures that everyone engaged in research is trained to the very highest standards of research integrity and conducts themselves and their research in a way that respects the dignity, rights, and welfare of participants, and minimises risks to participants, researchers, third parties, and the University itself.
The School of Culture and Communication
The School of Culture and Communication was a major contributor to Swansea University’s top 30 position in the 2014 research assessment exercise, with 98% of its research impact earning a world leading 4* or internationally excellent 3* rating.
The College conducts world leading research in English, Creative Writing and Applied Linguistics; History and Classics; Politics and International Relations; Media and Communication; Education and Lifelong Learning; and Modern Languages and Welsh.
The College provides a vibrant research environment through conferences, seminars, workshops and training events organised by sixteen research centres and groups. As well as major disciplinary strengths, inter-disciplinary research is at the heart of what we do. We host an annual research conference open to all colleges, Research across Boundaries, and have particular inter-disciplinary strengths in Heritage and Development, Digital humanities and platforms, Medical humanities and wellbeing, and Global challenges.
The College is deeply committed to highly quality research which is intellectually innovative as well as having real world impacts. Research students and staff work closely together. As a result a strong culture has developed which provides a supportive and friendly environment for our thriving community of doctoral students from all over the world to develop as well-networked young researchers.
Having a Master’s by research degree shows that you can communicate your ideas and manage tasks. Jobs in academia, education, government, management, the public or private sector are possible.
The Postgraduate Research Office Skills Development Team offer support and a training framework for example in creating a researcher profile based upon publications and setting up your own business. The Swansea Employability Academy assists students in future career opportunities, improving CVs, job applications and interview skills.