Masters Dissertation Guidelines



  • An MA dissertation is part 2 of the programme submitted in partial fulfilment of the Master’s Its length is 20,000 -40, 000 words long, excluding preliminary pages and bibliography. It is submitted in the third semester of the programme on or before 30 June or 30 November (for full time students) and for part­ time students it is in submitted in the sixth semester of the programme (See #21).


  • It is the responsibility of the student to identify and propose a supervisor to the Dean who will approach the faculty member. The Dean will also appoint the second reader of the dissertation.
  • The proposal stage should end on or before the end of the second semester full-time students or fourth semester for part-time students. The student and the supervisor and second reader will sign a form which will be kept by the Dean for the records.
  • Supervisors and Students should be aware of the rules and regulations governing the Programme(s).
  • Regular communication between a Supervisor and a Student is essential, especially in the formative stages of the research Formal meetings and other means of communication help to maintain and monitor progress.


  • The Supervisor will give guidance about the nature of research and the academic standards expected, the planning of the research program, guidance on literature and resources, and the avoidance of
  • The Supervisor will advise the Student about developing the necessary research method skills and any other relevant training skills to complete the degree.
  • The Supervisor will ensure that the Student is made aware of inadequate progress or standards of work below that generally expected, confirming this in writing to the Student and arranging any supportive action

2.2.      STUDENTS

  • The Student will maintain the progress of the work in accordance with the stages agreed upon with the Supervisor including, in particular, the presentation of written material as required in sufficient time to allow for comments and discussion, before proceeding to the next The Student will make appropriate use of any teaching and learning facilities and training opportunities made available by the College, if any.
  • The Student will ensure that any circumstances that might require his/her mode of study to be modified or his/her enrolment to be extended, suspended or withdrawn are brought to the attention of his/her Supervisor(s).
  • The Student will accept responsibility for his/her own research activity and candidacy for the


  • Generally examiners are looking for similar qualities in dissertations as in term These include: Good organization, coherent argument, clear specification or the subject area, and (even more) of the hypothesis, question or issue you will test or address in the dissertation.
  • Restricted and pointed topics, alternatively, being well focused. o Critical evaluation of the sources
  • Clear and penetrating analysis and interpretation of different concepts, assumptions, and arguments found in secondary These must be compared or criticized, rather than reproduced;
  • Ability to understand and state differences in perspectives;
  • A balanced and reasoned approach to alternative perspectives and to ‘the truth’
  • Evidence of ability to locate, analyse, and interpret relevant data, including quantitative
  • Ability clearly and appropriately to link the issues with evidence and then to draw conclusions: this may take the form of submitting hypotheses to meaningful tests or a marshalling of evidence about a problem not open to quantitative testing; honesty in use of
  • Evidence of correct interpretation of the author or theme and specific criticism of the arguments in
  • Clarity of English and general
  • Originality in ideas – mainly, in practice, in examining and re-interpreting
  • The expectations are summed up in a form used by examiners (see Marking and Comments Sheet).


  • Dissertations are all assessed by two examiners [supervisor and second reader] who will each assign a grade Their average will determine the overall mark and grade of the dissertation. If their grading difference extends beyond a classification, a third marker would be considered by the Dean and the mark of this third examiner will be averaged with the one closest to him/her from the first two examiners.
  • An External Examiner can be a reference for arbitration if there is further disagreement. The External will ordinarily read a sample or the whole dissertation in order to moderate the overall standard of the marking.
  • Markers are advised to familiarize themselves with the Marking systems below, the explanation of these schemes in #7 of the Academic Programme, and the revised version of Marking approved in September
  • Marking Schemes

Please note that there are TWO DISTINCT marking schemes in operation at Arrupe College: one for undergraduate degree programmes and postgraduate degree programmes.

Undergraduate DegreesMaster’s Degree
75% +“First Division”(1)80% +           “Distinction”(1)
65% – 74%“Upper Second Division”(2.1)70% – 79%    “Merit”(2.1)
60% – 64%“Lower Second Division”(2.2)60% – 69%     “Credit”(2.2)
50% – 59%“Third Division”(3)50% – 59%     “Pass”(3)
40% – 49%“Fail”(F/S)40% – 49%      “Fail”(F/S)
0% – 39%“Fail”(FIR)0% – 39%        “Fail”(FIR)

Special care should be taken when teaching mixed classes to mark each student according to the appropriate scheme.

  • Official (UZ) Criteria for Divisions (Undergraduate Degree Programmes)
  • The University of Zimbabwe provides the following official descriptions of these classifications as follows (see Arrupe College Programme and Calendar #7.2).



The student will submit to the Director of the Masters Programme two loose bound copies of the dissertation. After marking, taking into consideration any corrections suggested by the markers, the student will submit to the director one bound and one complete PDF copies.

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