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Specialist Study Dissertation

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1 Specialist Study Dissertation
Advanced Higher Specialist Study Dissertation

2 What is the Specialist Study?
words Focussed, analysis based question More than one complex text, linked by theme, author, language etc Characterised by depth Independent study Demonstrating skills in analysis and evaluation

3 The Basics 40% of overall AH grade- marked out of 40 marks
Designed to extend the critical and analytical skills of candidates. The Outcome of the Specialist Study Unit at Advanced Higher requires candidates to make an independent study of and produce a dissertation on an aspect or aspects of: language or literature or media or some combination of these. The chosen topic and materials on which it is based must be deemed by the centre to be suitable for independent study (of appropriate quality, personally selected by candidates, not the subject of teaching in this Unit or of teaching or assessment in other Units of this Course or other Courses- so no Shakespeare, for example). Depth: Candidates should select a topic that will enable them to offer a full exposition and discussion of a particular aspect of their chosen study.

4 Stage 1: Selecting Texts and Area for Study
Selection of texts or topics for study Production of a brief descriptive statement of a proposal. This proposal must be submitted to the teacher/lecturer for approval in order to ensure that the proposed materials are appropriate to an English course and worthy of study at this level, and that the study itself is manageable. Deadline: September 2014

5 The Proposal “…A final, precisely worded statement that indicates the nature, scope and purpose of the completed study.” Your dissertation is marked against this statement- if you do not do what you state you will, you do not fulfil the criteria you have set yourself. In the early stages, statements of topics, while providing guidance and support to candidates, should be sufficiently flexible to enable candidates to change direction as their studies develop

6 What makes a suitable proposal?
Engaging in some detailed comparative analysis of texts or parts of texts Focusing on literary/linguistic aspects of the study Focusing on a number or range of texts appropriate to the nature of the proposed study Studying works of appropriate literary quality Avoiding over-reliance on critical works

7 How many texts? The number of texts that a candidate studies depends upon: the nature of the texts, their scale of complexity and level of difficulty the nature of the task that the candidate has chosen. There is no set number of texts

8 How many texts? It may be that the depth, complexity — or, perhaps, length — of novels or plays chosen means that fair treatment can be accorded only to two; or it may be that the relative simplicity, transparency — or brevity — of texts chosen means that a greater number have to be studied to enable the candidate to meet the Performance Criteria. It may be that the argument proposed in a particular topic is best served by a detailed comparison of two novels or plays; or it may be judged necessary, in order to develop a line of thought, to cover three major texts. Similar principles apply to the selection of poems for study. It may be that a particular topic is best explored through a close analysis of 8 – 10 relatively short poems, with references made to a number of others, while a topic requiring a broader sweep may require less-detailed treatment of a wider range of poems. Think- you have 4500 words total- you need to demonstrate depth, so if you do three novels, that’s only 1000 words on each once you’ve accounted for introductions and conclusions. Does this provide sufficient depth, given your chosen proposed task?

9 SQA Sample Proposals A comparative analysis of the style of Colin Thubron in Among the Russians and In Siberia with particular reference to the language and imagery used to create setting and atmosphere. The topic is clearly defined, of an appropriate level of difficulty and manageable within the context of a short dissertation.

10 A comparative study of the nature and function of narrative voice in three novels by Edith Wharton.
An admirably concise and precise statement of the candidate’s intention to study a limited and very important aspect of this author’s narrative technique.

11 I intend to conduct a linguistic and literary comparison of the Irish Troubles, centred on the Easter Rising of My chose texts are Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, Roddy Doyle’s A Star called Henry and W.B. Yeats’s Easter 1916. The opening statement requires elaboration and refinement in order to be helpful to the candidate. Presumably, the intention is to compare the literary and linguistic ways in which writers have, in different periods and in different genres, dealt with that defining moment in Irish history.

12 How to Choose Think about: Writers whose work you enjoy
Styles and genre you might want to explore Linked themes

13 Where to look for help and ideas
School library and librarian Teaching staff Senior reading by subject handout / PDF Exemplar dissertations SQA Specialist Study Additional Guidance pack

14 Past ideas “A study of the portrayal of the motivation, perpetration and possible consequences of human evil, as shown by Antony Burgess in his novel, A Clockwork Orange, and Fyodor Dostoevsky in Crime and punishment. A comparative study of the poetic techniques employed to explore the relationship between mother and child in a selection of Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry. A literary analysis of the methods by which Stevenson and Shelley exploit the context of Gothic fiction and science to explore the duality of human nature in their works Frankenstein and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde “A comparative study of the use of narrative technique to portray female madness in The Trick Is To Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway and The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman”. A critical analysis of how Oscar Wilde uses dramatic technique to reveal his views on social class in the plays: An Ideal Husband; Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest. A detailed study and literary analysis of the concept of ancient Greek heroism and the influences and interventions of the Olympian gods stylised by Homer in his works: The Iliad and The Odyssey.

15 Assignment: Me, as a Reader
Make a poster, with you at the centre, showing you as a reader Consider: genre you enjoy, favourite books, books you would like to read, themes you enjoy, reading ambitions, areas of interest, styles you like, writers of differing cultures etc. This poster will be used to support staff in helping guide you to suitable texts and topics Two weeks- Tuesday 24th June

16 Deadlines Aim to narrow your selection to four or five texts, to be read over the summer Refine your choices in August Read any additional texts by end August Draft a proposal for September 2014

17 So what do I do now? Make your poster Start reading!!!

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