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Either a piece of original work on a specified research question, or a more wide-ranging discussion which gives a critical account of existing literature and knowledge.

A research essay of a maximum length of 20,000 words (excluding footnotes, bibliography and appendices).

Paper title Dissertation
Paper code RELS490
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.5
Points 60 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,620.00
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Three 300-level RELS or RELX papers
RELX 490
Limited to
BA(Hons), PGDipArts
This paper is normally available only to students enrolled for the Bachelor of Arts with Honours or Postgraduate Diploma in Arts in Religious Studies.

Associate Professor John Shaver:

Teaching staff

Course Coordinator: Assoc. Prof John Shaver

Paper Structure
Students are assigned a supervisor with whom they will meet regularly. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss possible topics with a supervisor at the end of the semester prior to the one in which they begin work on the research essay.
Teaching Arrangements
The deadline for submission is 1 November. This is a strict deadline. Extensions will only be provided in cases of unforeseen circumstances that significantly restrict a student's ability to complete the dissertation on time. This does not include work commitments or any other activities entered into voluntarily. In cases where there are serious unforeseen circumstances, the student should discuss them with their supervisor at the earliest possible opportunity.

Note: For students who wish to begin the dissertation in second semester the code will be RELS 491. The deadline for submission in this case is 1 June.
Textbooks are not required for this paper.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, 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
  • Develop an appropriate research question, plan and write a dissertation
  • Employ effective information search strategies utilising appropriate library resources, databases and archives
  • Undertake a literature review that places the topic within a wider field of knowledge
  • Critically analyse a body of knowledge relevant to the research problem (across a range of research methodologies and/or within a particular field of interest)
  • Select, justify and apply appropriate research method(s) to the research problem
  • Analyse, present and discuss findings meaningfully within the field of Religious Studies
  • Prepare a written dissertation setting out, and defending, the student's view on the research question

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system