Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

You are here Course Details > Dissertation

Dissertation overview

Each student completes a 15-20,000-word dissertation. The dissertation offers students the opportunity to explore a subject of their choosing in some detail under the supervision of a subject specialist. Given the size and importance of the dissertation, it is strongly advised that students devote plenty of time to planning and producing the dissertation from an early stage in the course. 
There are two forms that a dissertation may take:

A theoretical Dissertation

The student takes some theory, philosophy, hypothesis and tests it, or applies case study methodologies to the study of a phenomenon pertinent to literary translation in context.

A translation and commentary

The student takes some theory, philosophy, hypothesis and tests it with a translation, especially produced for the purposes. In a translation & commentary dissertation, up to 50% of the work submitted may consist of translation. The translation and commentary is not a replica of the portfolio; instead, it uses a practical experiment in translation to exemplify some creative notion, theory, or paradigm that the student has put forward. The commentary can be all introduction; or an introduction and concluding/discursive section; or can be intercalated in between segments of translation. The source text should be included in an appendix to the dissertation. Appendices do not count towards a dissertation’s word count. However, all other parts of the dissertation, including bibliography, introduction, and any footnotes are included in the word count. 


It is students’ responsibility to identify the supervisors best suited to their work. They should begin this process early on in the course, and should have decided on their supervisors before the second week of Hilary Term. Students approach their potential supervisor and discuss what they would like to achieve in the dissertation. When a supervisor has agreed to supervise a student, they both fill out a Dissertation Supervision Form.

It is the student’s responsibility to:

  • decide on the research question of a theoretical dissertation / the text to be explored in a translation with commentary;
  • familiarise themselves with the House Style as Marks are attached to the dissertation’s conformity to this;
  • present their work in the stipulated format (see below);
  • ensure that they acknowledge any assistance or influence they may have drawn on, whether from an individual or a published source. Students should familiarise themselves with College regulations on plagiarism. They should complete the ‘Ready, Steady, Write’ online tutorial on plagiarism. Completing the tutorial is compulsory for all students. If students are found guilty of plagiarism, they risk being awarded a mark of zero and/or not being awarded their degree;
  • submit drafts of their work by the deadline agreed in consultation with their supervisor;
  • submit the final version of the dissertation by the published deadline (the last working day of August). The supervisor and student together agree a timetable for meetings, and processes for the submission and return of work. Some feedback may be provided in electronic form. The maximum number of hours a student may legitimately expect to spend in face-to-face meetings with their supervisor is six in the course of the year.
  • Students are required to obtain a pass mark of 40% on the dissertation in order to pass the M.Phil. See Calendar for further details.


It is the supervisor’s role to

  • have an overview of the student’s work and, where necessary, seek specialist advice;
  • respond to the student’s questions regarding the topic and scope of the dissertation;
  • discuss structure and development of arguments in the dissertation;
  • provide feedback;
  • provide feedback in verbal/textual form on the days agreed in consultation with the student.


It is the marker’s role to

  • read through the material;
  • asses the work on the basis of the criteria provided;
  • provide comprehensive feedback for the external examiner, which indicates how the final mark has been reached, including in-script annotations;
  • return work within 30 working days.