Geography and Environmental Sciences Dissertation

Module summary

Module code: ENVI1157
Level: 6
Credits: 30
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Bruce Haggart



To develop the student's ability to design, implement and complete a major research project.

To develop data analysis and interpretation skills across a range of environmental science and geography topics.

To develop the student's ability to take responsibility for a major research project and to demonstrate a mature and independent approach to their work.

Learning outcomes

On completing this course successfully you will be able to:

1 Identify and conceptualise a project based on a geographical, or environmental science research topic.

2 Carry out an appropriate critical review of literature pertinent to the topic.

3 Design an appropriate programme of data collection.

4 Analyse and interpret results/information critically and place findings in their wider context.

5 Work and think independently to organise and execute an appropriate programme of research.

6 Present the text, figures, tables and maps in a professional manner

Indicative content

Projects are selected on the basis of applicability to the Programme of Study (Environmental Science or Geography) and discussion with the teaching/supervisory team. Recent example projects include:

• Palaeoenvironmental analyses;
• Aspects of conservation in the UK and overseas;
• General and applied ecological studies;
• Atmospheric dispersal of pollution and biological material;
• Climate change impacts;
• Water quality and soil chemistry.
• Environmental pollution, past and present

Teaching and learning activity

The dissertation is undertaken during the course of the final year by all Geography and Environmental Science students. Running alongside the taught part of the final year the students are able to develop the necessary knowledge and skills from the taught courses. The choice of topic is made near to the end of level 5. Academic staff members propose areas of research for students to select and develop as projects. The work begins with an initial meeting between the project supervisor and the student, a review of pertinent literature and the submission of a project plan outlining the rationale, scope, aims, proposed methodology and data sources, equipment needs, and a timetable or work. Normally students undertake their data collection for eight weeks beginning in late August. In cases where students actually undertake fieldwork, the supervisor may visit the students during the field period to provide "one-to-one" direction and to check on progress. Throughout the summer, the students are in regular contact with their supervisors by email. At the end of the data collection/fieldwork period, the students must attend a series of supporting seminars guiding them through some key skills and tasks in the research process (for example, statistical analysis of data, graphic presentation of data, academic writing, and effective seminar presentations). These seminars build on material presented during level 5. The submission of the completed dissertation occurs at the end of the second term and the final dissertation must include good quality word-processed text, maps and graphic presentations of results where appropriate. Following submission of the dissertation, the students must give a poster presentation to academic staff and other students from within their degree group.


Method of SUMMATIVE assessment: Project Proposal
Outcomes assessed:1,2,3
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :10%
Passmark: 40%
Word Length:1200
Outline Details:Identify a research project and develop specific aims and objectives and methodology.

Method of SUMMATIVE assessment: Final Dissertation
Outcomes assessed:4,5,6
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % : 80%
Passmark: 40%
Word Length: 10,000 - 12,000
Outline Details: Compile a dissertation in a professional manner and critically evaluate findings in its wider scientific context.

Method of SUMMATIVE assessment: Poster presentation
Outcomes assessed: 6
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % : 10%
Passmark: 40%
Word Length: n/a
Outline Details: Present findings to a wider audience through a poster presentation.

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning:
Tutorial meetings with supervisors. Submission of draft dissertation early in Term 2 for feedback and discussion.

Pre and co requisites

Successful completion of level 4 and 5 Geog or Env Sci programmes