Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

ANTH590 Research Dissertation

A supervised research dissertation of up to 20,000 words on an approved topic.

ANTH 590 is an individual research project on an approved topic under the supervision of one or more members of staff, culminating in the submission of a dissertation of no more than 20,000 words. This dissertation comprises a substantial portion of the work necessary for completion of the coursework option for the Master of Arts degree.  It is also a required paper for the Master of Archaeological Practice.

Choosing your topic is one of the most challenging and rewarding decisions that you will have to make during your degree. It will depend on the kind of interests you have developed in Anthropology, the availability of supervisors with appropriate expertise, and practicability given the time constraints of the degree. Please review the list of staff members and areas of interest on the separate Programmes of Social Anthropology and Archaeology websites. It is required that you consult with appropriate staff before enrolment.

In Archaeology it is usually not possible to undertake primary excavation research for a dissertation unless you have made prior arrangements with a supervisor. Otherwise, laboratory analyses of previously excavated assemblages may be undertaken. Equally valid are projects based around the analysis of primary documentary sources on aspects of past cultures or critical reviews of literature on aspects of archaeological heritage management and applications of new technologies to archaeological issues.

In Social Anthropology, potential topics range from library-based studies based on primary and/or secondary sources to research involving fieldwork using one or a number of the many different methods used in field research (for example, participant observation, formal interviews, unobtrusive methods). The supervision that is provided by the Programme will enable you to gain valuable first-hand experience in doing social research. Fieldwork involving human subjects requires ethical approval from the University Ethics Committee; your supervisor will advise you about this.

The dissertation offers comprehensive training in research skills and methods and requires you to meet professional standards of argument, documentation and presentation. The successful completion of one of these projects is regarded as the principal research qualification for further study, and employers seeking evidence of substantial self-discipline also regard completion of these projects highly.

Paper title Research Dissertation
Paper code ANTH590
Subject Anthropology
EFTS 0.5
Points 60 points
Teaching period(s) 1st Non standard period (3 March 2023 - 23 February 2024) (On campus)
2nd Non standard period (7 July 2023 - 28 June 2024) (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,325.50
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

^ Top of page

Limited to

All students enrolled for the Master of Archaeological Practice or the coursework option for the Master of Arts are required to complete the ANTH 590 dissertation. Students who have completed a BA majoring in Anthropology with at least a B+ average can apply to enrol.

Contact for Archaeology, for Social Anthropology

Teaching staff

Relevant academic supervisor

Paper Structure
Preparation of dissertation
Teaching Arrangements
Weekly meetings with supervisor(s)
There are no specific textbooks, but reading relevant to the topic is essential.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Satisfactory completion of this paper will be shown by presentation of a dissertation that demonstrates that the student is able to:
  1. Develop an appropriate research problem and plan and conduct an investigation relevant to the discipline of Anthropology.
  2. Undertake a literature review that places the topic within a wider field of knowledge.
  3. Critically analyse a body of knowledge relevant to the research problem.
  4. Select, justify and apply appropriate research method(s) to the research problem.
  5. Analyse, present, and discuss findings meaningfully.
  6. Prepare a written report on the project in ways appropriate to the discipline.

^ Top of page


1st Non standard period (3 March 2023 - 23 February 2024)

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system

2nd Non standard period (7 July 2023 - 28 June 2024)

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system