GV3DSA-Dissertation (Study Abroad Students)

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Summer / Autumn / Spring module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Filippo Menga

Email: f.menga@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module allows students to opt to spend one of their third year terms (Autumn or Spring) at one of our Erasmus partner institutions in Europe or through the University-wide links in North America and Australia. Currently, the Department has established links with: The Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen (The Netherlands); The University Centre on Svalbard (UNIS) and The Department of Geography, University of Bergen (Norway). For those students studying abroad in Europe, funding is contributed by the ERASMUS+ Exchange Scheme. Each study abroad student takes modules equivalent to 40 credits, which are substituted for course credits in Reading.

The dissertation module aims to give students the experience of carrying out an original research project where they can put into practice the skills of information collection, analysis, and presentation gained during their degree programme. It also provides an opportunity to demonstrate that they can select a methodology appropriate to their investigation and outline and discuss its philosophical basis.

Assessable learning outcomes:
On completion of this module it is expected that a student will be able to: * Independently plan and carry out a research project * Locate and critically evaluate literature relevant to an empirical research project * Collect, analyse and draw conclusions from empirical evidence, using appropriate research methodologies * Assess the limitations of the research undertaken * Produce a well-presented, clearly argued written report of their research and conclusions.

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims to develop further, students' oral communication skills through seminars and meetings, singly and in groups, with members of academic staff. Depending on topic and methodology, students will gain additional practice in (among other things) using equipment, carrying out field or laboratory experiments, interviewing or qualitative field techniques, skills in statistical analysis and computer modelling.

Outline content:
Students have a free choice of dissertation topic, which they choose and refine in consultation with a dissertation tutor.

This module is specifically for students who undertake Study Abroad Placements (e.g. ERASMUS) during the Autumn or Spring Term of Part 3. As such, the timescale below may be adapted to reflect the individual circumstances of a student on Study Abroad Placement, to ensure they are not disadvantaged in the completion of their dissertation.

Students normally submit a provisional topic in Term 5 and dissertation tutors are assigned on the basis of the submitted topic. Students normally meet with their dissertation tutors in groups and as individuals at the end of Term 5 and in Term 6, after Part 2 examinations. For Study Abroad students, this meeting may be via Skype. Dissertation tutors advise on academic literature, data sources, and research methods. Reading requirements depend on the dissertation topics, however, the students should aim to include about not less than 10 peer reviewed research papers or monographs into the literature review. The Internet is an important source of data including statistical data and the latest governmental, inter-governmental, and business documents. However, material from web sources is not considered an acceptable substitute for the published literature and the use of web material instead of peer reviewed papers and books for referencing does not fall within standards considered to be sufficiently academic and is, therefore, strongly discouraged. Research and writing-up extend to the end of Term 8. The students meet individually with their dissertation tutors in Terms 7 and 8 at regular intervals to review progress and discuss the organisation of the dissertation. Where this is not possible, because a Study Abroad student is away from Reading on Placement, such meetings may take place via Skype. Students are normally expected to spend a minimum of 100 hours on data collection and analysis, and the data presented in the dissertation should be commensurate with at least this level of effort. For Study Abroad students, it is recognised their Placement can make data collection and analysis difficult. It is acceptable for students in these circumstances to make greater use of secondary sources, although there is still an expectation that original analysis will be carried out. As the dissertation is an independent research project, staff do not read and appraise draft dissertations. The dissertation is submitted at the end of Term 8, although this deadline may be extended to reflect the individual circumstances of a Study Abroad student.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
A lecture is given in Term 5, outlining the dissertation process and giving guidance on the initial selection of research topic. Each student attends a tutorial individually or as part of a group with their dissertation tutor, to discuss general matters and evaluate students' initial ideas. Thereafter, in Terms 6, 7 and 8 students meet on an individual basis with their dissertation tutors at mutually convenient times. The frequency and duration of the meetings vary according to the research needs; however, meeting each two weeks is appropriate. Students working abroad on the Erasmus scheme maintain a regular email contact with the supervisor. Additional lectures and help sessions focusing on frequently used techniques and frequently asked questions are offered in Terms 6 and 7. The exact topics and number of lectures depend on the needs of the student.

Because students on this module will be away from Reading for at least one term in Part 3, some of these meetings may be replaced by email exchanges or Skype conversations. It is understood that, when a student is away from Reading, it may not be possible to attend compulsory meetings and teaching events.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Project Supervision 20 20
Guided independent study 180 180
Total hours by term 200.00 200.00
Total hours for module 400.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Dissertation 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Coursework equivalent of 10,000 words.
The coursework and its assessment are organised as a two stage process:
Stage One: Students submit a 1500 word dissertation proposal, following a pro-forma. This is marked on a pass/fail basis. A 'pass' mark, of 40% or above, means that the student may proceed with the dissertation. If a student achieves a 'fail' mark of less than 40%, they must resubmit their proposal. If the student fails to resubmit or achieves another fail mark then they will be deemed to have failed Part 3. Dissertations are assessed against the original research proposal. However, students can amend or change their dissertation proposals after submission in cases where circumstances beyond their control precluded them carrying out the original project. This should be agreed with the supervisor.
Stage Two: Completion and submission of the dissertation contributing 100% of the overall assessment. The dissertation must not exceed 10 000 words.
Dissertations are double marked by the supervisor and an independent marker. Procedures for the agreement of marks are specified in the module handbook.

Formative assessment methods:
Students have regular meetings with supervisors and receive feedback on their progress. These meetings may be replaced by email exchanges or Skype conversations where appropriate.

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy.
The following penalties will be applied to coursework which is submitted after the deadline for submission:
where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark;
where the piece of work is submitted more than one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadine. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.
(Please refer to the Undergraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guideUG.aspx)

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A mark of 40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of coursework as specified by the Department

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence: There are not normally additional costs associated with dissertations. However, if the student needs to undertake fieldwork in a distant location they may have to contribute to travel and other costs. Grants towards costs may be available from the University Study and Travel Fund.

Last updated: 20 April 2018


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