Course code: 3GJ321
Course name: Thesis Preparation Seminar
Academic year: 2020–2021
Credits: 15 ECTS Credits
Single subject: Yes
Application: Apply at our local applicationpage
Required prerequisite knowledge
- 3GJ303 Research Methodology
- In addition, as the main rule, 60 ECTS credits must have been completed (i.e. the first year of the programme). Exceptions to this rule may only be made in circumstances where minor parts are missing.
Relevance within study programme
GJ 321 Thesis Preparation Seminar is a mandatory course in the MA Programme in Global Journalism at NLA University College. It takes place in the third semester of the programme, immediately preceding the MA thesis project.
The course is practically oriented and aims to prepare the student for the subsequent MA thesis project. The course covers issues such as how to develop a proposal for an MA project, how to work with theory, how to do field research, and how to compose and write a thesis. A separate section discusses practical concerns related to research ethics. The course is designed both for theoretical (GJ 322) and practical-theoretical (GJ 323) MA thesis, although professional competence related to the media production in GJ 323 will not be covered as students choosing this option are expected to have acquired sufficient production skills in their undergraduate degree.
Learning outcomes descriptors
- has knowledge of the basic design of a research project
- is aware of the elements involved in the preparation of a small-scale research project
- can write a proposal for a small-scale research project
- can assess and make preliminary judgments of potential ethical dilemmas expected to arise in a research project
- is able to prepare a small-scale research project, practically and theoretically
GJ 321-1: Preparing a research proposal
The student is introduced to the preparation and writing of a research proposal, with a particular view on the MA thesis proposal. The students will work both in groups and individually with their proposals. An important part of the research proposal process is to arrive at an appropriate method for the project, thus drawing directly on the material covered in GJ 303 Research Methodology. A submission date will be given for the final proposal to be handed in at the end of the course.
GJ 321-2: Working with theory in a research project
This part of the course focuses on how theory becomes an integrated part of a research project, both at the planning stage, fieldwork stage, and writing stage. Students are urged to use knowledge from this part of the course when preparing their research proposal. Material covered in all previous courses in the programme is potentially applicable as theoretical points of departure for the project.
GJ 321-3: How to do field research
This is a practically oriented part of the course advising students how to prepare and carry out field research. Various methods from GJ 303 are revisited from a practical point of view, discussing items such as to how to conduct fieldwork interviews, how to get in touch with respondents, how to obtain a research certificate, and how to save the project when everything seems to fall apart. Particular attention is paid to the many troubles which may occur when crossing cultural and national boundaries, which are inherent to many research projects in Global Journalism. Instructors will draw from their own research experience in this part of the course.
GJ 321-4: Writing an MA thesis
This part of the course focuses on how to write a research report, with a particular view on the MA thesis. Items covered are organization of the thesis, style, argumentation, clarity of speech, plagiarism, working with statistics, and more.
GJ 321-5: Research ethics
This part of the course covers theoretical and practical issues in research ethics. Particular attention is paid to ethical considerations that are characteristic to journalism research.
Teaching and learning methods
The course has an introductory week with intensive teaching from Monday to Friday. The remaining eight weeks of the course have weekly lectures. Online connection is available for the weekly lectures, but not for the introductory week. The instruction is delivered as a combination of lectures and seminars. Students are required to present a draft of their proposal in the seminars and will give feedback to the draft proposal of others in the group. The course runs for half a semester (approximately nine weeks), and concludes with the submission of individual research proposals.
All lectures in the introductory week of GJ 321 are compulsory, which, according to NLA regulation, means at least 80% attendance. The requirement of attendance is set to avoid excessive resources spent on individual follow-up at the subsequent stage when the actual MA thesis project begins. It is also compulsory for the students to attend the session where he/she is required to respond to other students’ thesis proposal drafts. The student must submit an MA research proposal within the announced due date towards the end of the course.
Grading, coursework requirements
The assessment of GJ 321 comprises of one compulsory item: Submission of MA research proposal (pass or failure).
The submission date is final. The proposal will be assessed by the programme–s Academic Committee and be given a pass or failure grade. In the case of failure, the student will be given a report outlining what needs to be improved in order to bring the proposal up to an acceptable standard. Two resubmissions are allowed. The proposal must obtain a passing grade before the student is assigned an advisor for the MA project (GJ 322/323). The proposal must follow the directions outlined in the Guidelines for the master’s thesis in Global Journalism at NLA. The proposal must be written in either English or a Scandinavian language. If the student’s proposal is not approved after the mentioned three attempts, the student will have lost his/her right to sign up for the course again.
Permitted aids under examination
Pass or failure.
The proposal must be written in either English or a Nordic language.
Annually course evaluation in accordance with the quality assurance system for NLA University College. Students may also give their feedback on the course in the student group/ in class.
Available for Course Students
Total reading: 876 pp.
- National Committees for Research Ethics in Norway (2016) Guidelines for research ethics in the social sciences, humanities, law and theology. Available from https://www.etikkom.no/globalassets/documents/english-publications/60127_fek_guidelines_nesh_digital_corr.pdf. (40 pp)
- Nygaard, Lynn P. (2017) Writing your master’s thesis: From A to Zen. London: Sage (194 pp)
- Oliver, Paul (2010) The student’s guide to research ethics (2nd ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press. (178 pp)
- Oliver, Paul (2014) Writing your thesis (3rd ed.). London: Sage. (248 pp)
- Punch, Keith F. (2016) Developing effective research proposals (3rd ed.). London: Sage. (192 pp)
- Skjerdal, Terje (2013) Competing loyalties: Journalism culture in the Ethiopian state media. PhD dissertation, University of Oslo. Pp. 75-98. (24 pp)