Subject title

Master's Dissertation
Máster Universitario en Educación Bilingüe
ECTS Credits
Second four month period
Course type Master's Dissertation


This guide is aimed at providing information about the Master’s Dissertation (MD) to postgraduate students from the Master’s Degree on Bilingual Education at the International University of La Rioja (UNIR). Some guidelines will be provided to develop this relevant final subject of the Master, which is, on the other hand, compulsory to obtain your Master’s degree.

The main purpose of performing your MD is to demonstrate that you have acquired the knowledge and competences related to your Master’s degree. This subject has a total of 12 ECTS. The work has to be carried out individually under the supervision of an advisor, called supervisor, designated by UNIR. Your final mark will be obtained at the end of the course with an oral defence (‘viva’) in the presence of an examining committee.

You can proceed with your MD viva only if you have passed all the subjects of your Master’s degree as well as your Practicum period.


Written dissertation and viva must be in English


Basic Competences

  • BC6. Achieve and understand the knowledge that provides a base and an opportunity to be original in the development and implementation of the ideas, often in a research context.
  • BC7. That the students are able to apply the knowledge acquired and their ability to solve the problems in new or not very well known environments among wider contexts (or multidisciplinary) related to their field of study.
  • BC8. That the students are able to integrate knowledge and face the complexity of judging from an information, that being incomplete or limited, includes reflections about the social and ethic responsibilities linked to the application of their knowledge and judgements.
  • BC9. That the students know how to communicate their conclusions and knowledge and reasons that support them to specialized and non-specialized audiences in a clear and unequivocal way.
  • BC10. That the students have the abilities to learn that allow them to continue studying in such a way that will be self-directed or self-sufficient.

General competences

  • GC1. Know the specific problems of teaching in a foreign language both linguistically and culturally, in an environment of bilingual education.
  • GC2. Develop skills to promote an atmosphere that ease learning and interaction among students.
  • GC3. Transmit social and cultural values in accordance with the multilingual and multicultural context.
  • GC4. Understand the legislation and regulations concerning the organization and management of bilingual centers.
  • GC5. Understand the effectiveness and necessity of promoting the integrated teaching of a foreign language and the own contents of the non-linguistic discipline.
  • GC6. Analyze critically the performance of teaching work and good practices using assessment models and quality indicators.
  • GC7. Understand and reflect on the impact of ICT on the society and culture of students.
  • GC8. Be competent users of L2 in all the skills necessary for teaching.

Specific Competences

  • SC1. Teach a non-linguistic subject in their area of expertise through English.
  • SC2. Design an integrated curriculum in their area of expertise with linguistic contents.
  • SC3. Create and adapt learning materials for bilingual education considering the educational level of students according to the CEFR.
  • SC4. Develop, plan and guideline the contents of discipline in bilingual environments according to the formal format CLIL Module.
  • SC5. Design and develop educational activities based on CLIL methodology.
  • SC6. Assess the linguistic and non-linguistic content in bilingual education.
  • SC7. Add new teaching strategies and new information technologies to bilingual education for the design of new learning environments in the classroom.
  • SC8. Know the organization of bilingual education centers at all levels and the diversity of actions that includes their operation.
  • SC9. Understand the organization of a bilingual classroom: activities, teaching material, training plan.
  • SC10. Know the planning and evaluation tools in an integrated teaching/learning.
  • SC11. Develop and implement teaching methodologies adapted to the diversity of students in a bilingual environment.
  • SC12. Be able to foster the application of different techniques and procedures to develop the students’ abilities.
  • SC13. Know and apply the advantages of the communicative approach and task-based learning for linguistic interaction in two languages.
  • SC14. Integrate training in audiovisual and multimedia communication in the teaching and learning process.

Transversal competences

  • TC1. Analyze reflexively and criticize the most important issues of today's society for a coherent decision-making.
  • TC2. Identify new technologies as teaching tools for communication exchange in the development of processes of investigation and group learning.
  • TC3. Apply the knowledge and skills acquired by the studies to real cases and in an environment of workgroups in companies or organizations.
  • TC4. Acquire the ability to work independently, promoting the organization and encouraging independent learning.



The different tasks and activities programmed during the semester have been developed with the goal of adapting the learning process to the different capabilities, necessities and interests of the students.

The activities included in the subject are:

  • Assignments.In your weekly program you will see the different kind of tasks designed for the course such as practice cases, research, critical thinking and, also, you will find information about how to complete them and when to send them to your teacher.
  • Participation in events. During the course you will be participating in different events. Some of those events are attendance to online classes, forums, self-evaluation tests.

These activities are combined with the following aspects:

  • Personal Study
  • Tutoring. The tutoring class can be implemented through different tools and means. During the course of the subject, the teacher-tutor plans the individual tutoring on specific days for the resolution of academic-oriented doubts through “Consultation sessions”. Supplementing these sessions, students have also available the “Ask your teacher” forum through which they can formulate questions and check the corresponding answers on general aspects of the subject.  Due to the very nature of the media used, there are no fixed schedules for the students.
  • Mandatory on-site final exam

The hours dedicated to each activity are detailed as follows:

Master's Dissertation Opening session      2,0  
Reading material in the virtual classroom      5,0  
Seminars from the Master's Dissertation work      5,0  
Individual tutories (MD)      6,0  
Group sessions      3,0    
Master's Dissertation development
VIVA process      2,0  

You can personalize your study plan choosing the type of activity that best matches your profile. The tutor will advise you and help you elaborate your study plan. S/he will always be available to guide throughout the course.

Modalities and MD structure

Your MD must be an academic, genuine, and unpublished work carried out individually under the guidance of a supervisor. You are invited to investigate on any research topic, but it must be related to the content of one of your Master’s modules.

You have to fulfill completely a form with your initial research proposal. In the form, special attention must be paid on the proposal description to simplify your supervisor’s work.

You have to select one of the following options for your MD:

  • State of the art
  • Intervention proposal
  • Experimental research


The dissertation can deal with a research related to any subject of your Master’s degree within the three modalities offered for Bilingual Education, for example, intervention proposal or research proposal.


A. State of the art

Description: A thorough review of the existing literature in a particular topic of the research.

B. Intervention proposal

Description: Design of an educative proposal with no implementation in the classroom environment.

C. Experimental research

One of the three sub-modalities of experimental research must be chosen (C1, C2, or C3).
C1: Experimental study

Description: Study in which data are collected and analysed

C2: Intervention proposal and experimental study

Description: Design and implementation of an intervention proposal with data collection and its analysis.

C3: Experimental study and intervention proposal

Description: Design of an intervention proposal (without implementing it) but with a previous detailed analysis of the educational context/ situation, etc.

Suggested table of contents

A dissertation in every master’s degree contains some key aspects written in accordance with a standard structure and with some required content for being defended in front of an examining committee. Even though some parts might differ depending on the modality chosen, your MD structure must be organized, as far as possible.


Dissertations and academic writing research papers, in general, require the use of references. To this respect, it is useful and advisable the use of not only materials and sources seen in your master’s modules, but also other bibliographical lists, suitable for the development of your MD.

Before starting any research, it is crucial to know the contributions proposed by other authors around the topic you are interested in. The literature review, together with the analysis of the state-of-the-art, consists of reading publications and other people’s works to introduce you to the existing academic debate for a given research topic.

Throughout the research process, it is necessary to check other documents that will provide you with direct information and wide knowledge in the area to propose your effective arguments for or against certain positions of a given topic. These documents are commonly known as Bibliography.

Thus, establishing a good literature review section in your MD will:

  • Help you select the research topic and non-solved questions of an academic debate.
  • Examine and evaluate the arguments around the topic you are interested in.
  • Help you design the theoretical background chapter and contextualise the research.
  • Present the state-of-the-art (updated information, data and arguments) at the beginning of the research process.
  • Support and justify own arguments.
  • Refute arguments contrary to your proposals.
  • Enrich your contributions.

*Note: Please see APA reference system for further information about Bibliography and References sections in a dissertation.


Types of bibliographic sources

Bibliographic documents required for your MD could be classified as follows:

  • Primary sources: original works from which you find information, data and/or arguments around your research. Some samples of primary sources are, for instance, original researches, conferences, historical documents, among others.
  • Secondary sources: documents in which experts from a concrete area analyse and evaluate original works and/or their content.
  • Tertiary sources: collections of sources serving as orientation to reach and select other secondary or primary sources.

Not all the sources have the same reliability, and not all of them can be used as an authority argument to support or refute other arguments. Therefore, it is important to take into account the following criteria when selecting the sources you are going to work with.

  • Relevance. The source must be related to the topic, or at least it must contain specific chapters related to the topic.
  • Publication impact. The impact factor for a publication —Journal or Publishing house— is directly related to the professional prestige of people deciding what to publish, the impact of some previous publications in the same journal or publishing house. In the educational field there are indexes and databases including lists of high-quality scientific journals. Such asJournal Citation Report (JCR) is the most popular annual publication that provides information about the journals and their impact factors in the area of Science (SCIE) and Social Science (SSCI) —the area of Humanities is represented by the index called Arts and Humanities Citation Index, AHCI. However, other indexes are also recommended for further overview of other impact factors: SCOPUS, Latindex, MIAR, or DICE.
  • Expertise. The authors of the works you are going to use must be expert in the area of knowledge. Being an expert means, among other aspects: having a proven and recognised previous expertise in the field of knowledge; and having an academic and research career. Databases and repositories (Dialnet) and the so-called academic social networks (ResearchGate, Academia or Mendeley) can provide information about the publications and academic experience of an author.
  • Update. Sources must be used for providing information about the current state-of-the-art. Please avoid the use of obsolete publications with old-fashioned, and, therefore, refuted methods of investigation.

APA reference system (6th edition) must be followed for a correct citation of publications used for the research in this Master’s degree. APA’s document can be accessed via your virtual classroom.


Supervision and guidance

You will be assigned a supervisor during the first week of Master’s Dissertation module so that you can receive assistance and perform your dissertation to obtain the best results in your final Master’s degree.


1. MD topic proposal

The Master’s Management from your university will determine when to apply for submitting your initial MD proposal. After that, your MD supervisor, assigned by UNIR, will assess your initial proposal. Procedures and form will be duly notified.

You can select any research topic for your MD proposal, but taking into account the purposes of your Master’s degree and the standard structure for MD (see Modalities and MD structure).

For your initial proposal, you have to fulfill completely a form, in which special attention must be paid on the proposal description to simplify your supervisor’s work.

Your initial proposal will not be definitive until your supervisor gives consent for its development.


2. Supervisor’s allocation

The Master’s Management from your university will choose and assign the supervisor for your MD.

The roles of your MD supervisor consist of:

    1. Giving consent to your initial proposal and establishing sequenced guidelines.
    2. Assisting you during your MD process by means of three individual virtual sessions (‘individual meetings’).
    3. Organising two group virtual sessions to provide general information about the methodology and other relevant aspects.
    4. Determining whether projects are suitable for oral defence (‘viva’) in the presence of a MD Examining Committee.


3. Supervisor’s consent for initial proposal

Your supervisor will revise your proposal once the deadline for sending initial proposals has expired —approximately one week after this deadline.

Once the proposal has been read, your supervisor, apart from introducing him/herself, can suggest convenient comments to guide appropriately your MD. Your supervisor’s consent on your proposal will be given when he/she considers conditions are adequate, in accordance with the due time and form established for this type of research works under his/her supervision and your own work.

Your research process on your MD will start when the Master’s Managament is informed about its consent.


4. MD development period

The main purpose of any MD is to delve into the teaching reality from the point of view of bilingual education and its application in the classroom. To perform your work properly, you have at your disposal a scheduled programme and some useful resources and tools.


4.1. MD virtual classroom

The virtual classroom of this subject offers you some resources in order to perform your dissertation. On the other hand, you also have some additional documentation in which some other aspects, relevant for your dissertation, are dealt in detail.


4.2. Communication with your supervisor and draft deliveries

During your MD development, and your supervisor’s assistance, you will be modifying the document of your research until having the definitive version of your dissertation.

Your supervisor will witness your MD evolution, and will review three drafts of your manuscript, delivered via the platform. Every time you send a draft of your manuscript, you will have to contact your supervisor to arrange a date for an individual meeting by means of the platform which licence is available at this university (Adobe Connect). During this period, written communication with your supervisor will be carried out via email of your platform.

You are required to be punctual for sending partial drafts as well as to follow strictly the indications and recommendations suggested by your supervisor in the next draft.

Your supervisor will propose the dates for sending your drafts, together with the suggested dates for individual meetings for a more personalised guidance.


4.3. Group virtual sessions

Along the period of life of your MD, your supervisor will be also responsible of maintaining contact with the rest of students of the same group. Therefore, your university has agreed to establish two group virtual sessions. These sessions will be devoted to giving basic advice about the methodology to perform your MD, about the procedure of oral defence in the presence of the examining committee, and about other convenient indications and recommendations.

Group virtual sessions will take place in the virtual classroom through the tool called «Clases presenciales virtuales» (virtual sessions). Some sessions affecting all the Master’s students will be scheduled with enough time in advance. You will be informed about them via: calendar of virtual sessions, and last minute of your platform.


4.4. Content

The content can be on any research topic; however, it has to meet some requirements in terms of content and structure.

Content requirements for a MD are the following:

  1. The manuscript has to be original and unpublished previously elsewhere.
  2. Its extension ranges from 50 to 60 pages. Some appendixes (written texts, graphics, figures, or other audiovisual elements) can be added increasing, consequently, the aforementioned pages, if they are necessary for the dissertation, but not exceeding the 80 pages.
  3. You have to pay special attention when citing the words of other authors. The coincidence of significant parts in your MD with texts published by other authors without being cited properly implies that your dissertation will be assessed as Non valid, in accordance with the Assessment Regulations of this University.
  4. Textual quotations have to be cited following a suitable and uniform system of reference, which, in our case, will be APA (6th edition). Remember that a sample of APA’s document can be accessed via your virtual classroom.
  5. It is convenient to include a wide and suitable bibliography for the topic you are interested in, taking into account the academic environment in which you are involved.


5. Final MD manuscript

Before submitting your final version of your manuscript, your supervisor must provide his/her consent. This consent will be carried out on the definitive version of your MD. You will be informed about this positive consent so that you can submit it properly.

Deadline for submitting your dissertation, either for ordinary or extraordinary examination, is determined by the calendar proposed for your master’s degree. After this deadline, dissertations will not be accepted and they will be defended in another examination period.

It is advisable to schedule with enough time the delivery date of your final version so that your supervisor can carry out a last revision on your manuscript, and you can submit correctly in the corresponding examination period. Moreover, we recommend you not to wait until the day of the deadline, since some unexpected events can arise, and subsequently you will be past the deadline and will not be allowed to submit your MD.



Once your MD has been submitted, you will be informed of the dates and places in which oral defences will take place, as well as the exact time when you have to defend your MD in the presence of an Examining Committee. The period between your MD submission and the viva can range between thirty and ninety days.


Requirements for your MD viva

  1. You have to be correctly enrolled in the subject called ‘Master’s dissertation’.
  2. You have to pass all the subjects of your master’s degree.
  3. Your viva date will be scheduled according to the examination periods approved by UNIR.
  4. Your MD and the additional files will be submitted within official dates for either ordinary or extraordinary examination.
  5. Your MD must have the consent for submission from your supervisor.
  6. You have to submit a copy of your MD in the virtual secretary of your virtual classroom.


Viva event

UNIR will publish the calendar and the cities in which MD oral presentations will take place at least 10 calendar days in advance with regard to the agreed defence date.

You will have to defend your MD in the presence of the examining committee by exposing your main research lines and respecting the time scheduled for your viva.

You will have at your disposal a maximum of thirty minutes for presenting the essential elements of your dissertation. Additionaly, you will have other 15 minutes to answer some questions posted by the committee members and to clarify some aspects related to your MD.

Your MD viva must be performed in English.


Evaluation and Final Mark

The final mark of your MD depends on the Evaluation report submitted by the Examining Committee. For this evaluation, this committee will assess the format, the structure and organization, the content, and the oral presentation or ‘viva’. This final mark will be submitted by a committee integrated by three PhD members; therefore, you cannot appeal additional review of your dissertation final mark. It is also convenient to take into account that appraisals for a given dissertation made by a supervisor might differ from final evaluation of the Examining Committee.

The final mark will be calculated on the basis of a numeric scale from 0 to 10, using an additional decimal, with its corresponding qualitative mark:

0 - 4. 9



5.0 - 6.9



7.0 - 8.9



9.0 - 10



In case the dissertation is proposed for “A with honours” by the committee, the Academic Commission of the master’s degree will have the final decision, in accordance with current regulations. The total amount of special mention marks cannot exceed 2.5% of students enrolled in MD module.

The committee will publish your final mark highlighting the evaluation of the three main parts:

Assessment method

Min. Score

Max. Score

MD structure



VIVA process



MD content