Rivalry in the Middle East: the Saudi-Iranian relationship and its implications on the Security and stability in the Middle East

A long piece of written work that offers a detailed, sustained and critical treatment of a chosen topic. It differs from an essay in requiring a more sustained treatment of a topic, greater depth of analysis and wider consultation of sources and materials. It should address a well-defined research question, specified at the outset, and present a logically developed argument, the claims of which are supported by evidence where necessary. It is an analytic undertaking, not a descriptive account of the topic under investigation, nor is it a review of books and articles the candidate read. While originality is often a requirement for doctoral study, masters dissertations too can strive to make an original contribution to the field. This can take the form of exploring previously neglected primary sources, undertaking an original theoretical analysis or interpretation of existing literature, or using primary material to develop your own critique of existing scholarly arguments. Dissertations typically follow one of four methods: 1-A single case study is used to assess, explore, validate or critically examine an argument, theory or theoretical perspective advanced in the literature; 2-A comparative case study is undertaken where a process, development or institution is examined in two or more settings; 3-Quantitative data is used to test existing arguments or to form a new hypothesis; 4-A critical analysis of a theoretical argument or perspective is advanced that engages closely with primary texts. Structure: Although structure varies according to the topic and methodology chosen, a dissertation typically consists of several parts, which should be formally indicated as chapters. A possible structure is as follows: Introduction: The introduction outlines the research question, identifies the argument, indicates the methodology adopted, and illustrates how the intended line of analysis supports the proposed argument. It can also offer a plan of work and briefly identify the contributions of the study. (500-1,000 words?) Literature review: The topic is placed in its academic context by reviewing the relevant scholarly literature and relating the research question to academic debates. (1,500-3,000 words?) Analysis/Discussion: Usually 2-4 chapters. Primary and secondary source material is presented, with an appropriate account of how material was gathered and how sources might be interpreted in the light of their authorship. This is where the argument or interpretation is methodically advanced in the light of a critical analysis of the material. (7,500-10,000 words?) Conclusion: Presents a summary of the findings of the dissertation, relates these to the argument outlined in the introductory chapter and states precisely what has been demonstrated. It can also reflect on broader contextual or scholarly implications. (500-1,500 words?) A good dissertation is what the two departmental markers (first marker and the second marker) agree to be a good dissertation. For the majority of dissertations, the first marker is the supervisor, and the second marker is a faculty member whose research and teaching interests are deemed appropriate for the topic. Dissertations are marked according to the following assessment criteria: 1-Definition of research question, argument or hypothesis : There has to be a crystal clear, scholarly relevant research question. The study must answer this question via an equally clear argument/hypothesis stated at the very outset and developed methodically and consistently throughout. (Whats your problem? What are you saying?) 2-Consideration of alternative arguments, knowledge of relevant issues and debates : The discussion must illustrate that the candidate is aware of key issues and debates, and is able to locate the argument and analysis within a wide range of alternative viewpoints. (Can you tell us how your argument stacks up against what others say about the problem? Why should we believe you?) 3-Critical vs descriptive approach : While there is room for description in some dissertations, on the whole the analytic approach should be critical, inquisitive. Intellectual progress entails challenging established viewpoints. (Be brave, leave no stone unturned!) 4-Appropriateness of methodology, quality of evidence : The study must be methodical, systematic, although different methodologies can be used. For empirical work, the candidate must show excellent grasp of the context. (How do we know you are not just pulling the wool over our eyes with fancy words?) 5-Use of relevant sources, knowledge of relevant literature : The study must consult the relevant literature(s) and sources throughout, showing familiarity and grasp. A typical masters dissertation has 25-50 academic sources + other material e.g. databases, media etc. (Can you prove you really did your homework?) 6-Style and presentation : The study must be written clearly in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation. It must be tightly organised, and written in formal language while avoiding excessive jargon. The text must be properly cited and referenced by observing appropriate academic conventions. (Do you take this task seriously? Do you have respect for what you are doing?)

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