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Disrupting the Thesis

Lab Contact: Katherine Wimpenny

Disrupting the Thesis ProjectOverview

This exciting pilot project will involve Sociology students working with professional film makers JAM AV to record stories from research participants who are based in Coventry market. Students will get hands on experience of using filming equipment, including recording and editing skills. Students will also develop their communicative, research, and employability skills by exploring course concepts and producing digital materials which will contribute to their final year dissertation as an integral part of the module assessment.

In addition, the work from the project will be showcased at venues across the city (e.g. Herbert Art Gallery, Theatre Absolute, Student HuB). Students will experience first-hand, creative artistic methodologies and methods for extending their research practice and research outputs. Further, the project will break down silos and enable students to work out-with disciplinary domains.



  1. The aim of this project is to engage students in active learning with the residents and community groups within Coventry.
    1. As a city centre University, we want students to engage in active learning with the residents and community groups within Coventry; we hope that the dialogue borne out of shared experience and mutual interests will creatively contribute to students’ engagement in their learning and development, as well as contribute to the current city initiative in Coventry which is striving to overcome known barriers to community cohesion
  2. Interrupt classroom practices and extend possibilities for the traditional presentation of the thesis
  3. Pilot alternate ways of delivering module content which can involve students in a more active role as co-curator
  4. Pilot new forms of assessment, both formative and summative, underpinned by creative arts pedagogy
  5. Utilise the strengths of students in their understanding of and implementation of disciplinary and trans disciplinary knowledge, theory, research and practice
  6. Provide opportunity for students to work with a professional business enterprise for skill and employability development


Technology Application

The technology used will include social media, film-making equipment including production and editing resources. The project will take place in Coventry market. Master classes in filmmaking and academic support and supervision for dissertations will run in the Sociology Dept and DMLL, Coventry University (CU).



  1. Ethics application for wider project (June – October 2015)

    Meetings of partners to discuss recruitment strategy, design of job spec for project placement experience, phases of main project delivery, evaluation of the project using A/R/Tography (Springgay et al, 2006).

  2. Final year sociology students apply, interview for, and are recruited to the project. (October – December 2015)

    Student research questions and project proposals are developed. Students apply for individual ethics Master classes in film making by JAM AV.

  3. Main study (Jan – April 2016)

    Students will:

    Capture primary data using film, photography and sound recording • Liaise with interview participants • Edit footage and recordings as part of the data analysis process • Explore course concepts relating to social research methods and the sociology of work in an empirical setting • Create digital materials to contribute to their dissertation • Explore the challenges of working with an experienced creative team using artistic methodologies • Produce an original piece of research.

  4. Findings and dissemination (April – July 2016)

    The data captured throughout the project will be analysed, interpreted and disseminated via a range of outputs.


Project Timeline:

Start date

June 2015

End date

July 2016




Associated Faculties, Schools and/or Course(s):

  • Faculty of Arts and Humanities
  • Sociology


Dec 7th 2015
  • The students have visited the market and identified their preferred stalls
  • The students have also decided on their respective research questions, written up a research protocol,  and submitted to CU ethics
  • Students took part in a workshop to explore some basic film-making skills with jam-av including:
    • handling, familiarizing self with camera and audio equipment
    • standard (although not the only) conventions of asking and answering questions for film (ie interviewer is off-camera, asks open questions, maintains eye contact, nods encouragement, doesn’t speak over interviewee, shows interest in answers etc)
    • standard (although not the only) convention for answering questions for film (ie interviewee is framed using rule of thirds, looking across the ’empty’ space on the screen, does not look into the camera, answers in full sentences using part/s of the question in the answer, has the option to re-say any answer they give, has the opportunity to add anything that they feel appropriate at the end

Jam AV Session

Dec 11th  2015
  • Jam Av have met with management office staff at Coventry Market and we have agreement to approach the stall holders and have been able to confirm that the stall holders the students were keen to create film about are agreeable.
    • The stall holders have been very receptive to the idea and not phased by being filmed. Which is great!
  • In the New Year we are all really looking forward to getting some dates in the diary and moving this on!


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