Dissertation: Religion in the Contemporary World

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Gisa Weszkalnys OLD 6.14, Prof Alpa Shah and Dr Fenella Cannell


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World). This course is not available as an outside option.


As for the Programme.

Course content

The dissertation will address a topic in the social sciences of Religion in the Contemporary World. This will normally be a library-based dissertation, but may be supplemented by minor original research elements in consultation with the academic adviser. The topic should make central use of concepts in the study of religion in the social sciences drawn from approved courses on the programme, particularly from the core course, and should demonstrate a good understanding of those concepts and their implications. The dissertation may draw on empirical topic areas suggested by the taught core and option courses of this programme, but must demonstrate an element of originality in analysis, content or both. The dissertation will normally contain an inter-disciplinary element which may be in the combination of material, the combination of critical, analytical or theoretical concepts, or both. Guidance on standards of presentation etc will be given in the MSc handbook, and will conform to the current standard laid down for the dissertations in MSc social anthropology.


1 hour of lectures in the MT. 3 hours of lectures in the LT. 3 hours of workshops in the ST.

There will be lecture on note taking and avoiding plagiarism in the MT. In addition to the two lectures in the LT and the dissertation workshop in the ST, students will discuss their projects and receive guidance during meetings with their mentors in MT, LT, and ST.

This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual lectures, classes and online interactive activities. The contact hours listed above are the minimum expected.

Formative coursework

Small group tutorials, individual mentoring, discussion of abstracts: please see Programme Proposal. Presentations and class discussions in all programme courses will also contribute towards the formative preparation for the dissertation.


Dissertation (100%, 10000 words) in August.

The dissertation must not exceed 10,000 words including in-text citations, footnotes and appendices (but excluding bibliography) to be submitted to the Department in late August.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2020/21: 8

Average class size 2020/21: 8

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information