GV3GED-Geography & Environmental Science Dissertation

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans

Email: s.lloyd-evans@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
All students taking Geography and Environmental Science as their main degree subject are required to produce a dissertation as part of their degree. The dissertation is an original piece of research carried out by the students independently, but with the support of an allocated adviser, and contributing to knowledge in a particular field of study. Students have a choice of dissertation topic within the range of expertise available in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science.

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 choose dissertation topic from a list of topics provided by dissertation tutors or propose their own topics providing that these are within the research expertise of dissertation tutors. In both cases, students refine their topics in consultation with a dissertation tutor. Students meet with their dissertation tutors in groups and as individuals in Terms 5 and 6. 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 30 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, discouraged. 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. Students are 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. The dissertation is normally submitted towards the end of Term 8.

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 the 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. 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 students.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Tutorials 6 7 3
Project Supervision 50 30 20
Guided independent study 144 90 50
Total hours by term 200.00 127.00 73.00
Total hours for module 400.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Dissertation 100

Other information on summative assessment:
Each dissertation is marked by two assessors (one of whom is a dissertation supervisor) and third assessor's opinion can be requested if there is a considerable discrepancy between the marks issued by the two designated assessors.

Formative assessment methods:
In Term 6, students submit dissertation research proposal. The assessment is formative, however, the criterion of 40% is used for 'pass'. In Week 6 of Term 7, students give a presentation summarising their progress and results to date, discussing their achievements and problems.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • 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 for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Resubmission of coursework.

    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: 31 March 2017

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