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School of Environment, Education and Development

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BA Geography
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BA Geography / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Dissertation

Unit code GEOG30000
Credit rating 40
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

All single honours Geography students are required to write a dissertation, based on an individual choice of topic. The dissertation is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to choose and refine research aims, select appropriate methods and techniques for research, and to write up the analysis and interpretation of the findings in a logical and well-structured document supported by references to the relevant academic literature.

Aims

  • ·         to undertake an original research project related to the aspect of Geography that most interests you

    ·         to develop detailed research questions that are theoretically grounded and practically feasible to answer

    ·         to choose, learn to use and apply appropriate geographical research methods and techniques

    ·         to organise and execute a timetable for data collection, analysis and write-up

    ·         to produce a well-structured and clearly written dissertation presenting your findings supported by relevant literature

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course unit, you should have:

·         an original and unique project that makes you stand out when applying for jobs or further study

·         an understanding of the theoretical framework for geographical research and the role of the individual researcher in advancing knowledge

·         practical experience in geographical research methods

·         enhanced project design and time management skills

Syllabus

The development of the dissertation begins in the second year module ‘Overseas Fieldwork and Research Design’, and it is recommended that students undertake some or all of their data collection during the summer prior to the final year. The analysis of data and writing up process is supported by three scheduled meetings with the dissertation advisor (twice in semester 1 and once in semester 2). There will also be two ‘masterclass’ sessions, one in Semester 1, and one in Semester 2 that you are strongly encouraged to attend. A draft chapter should be submitted in mid-January for comment and discussion with the dissertation advisor. The dissertation hand-in takes place after the Easter break.

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit is supported in the following ways:

·         the Geography Undergraduate Dissertation Handbook provides key information on the requirements, formatting and assessment of the dissertation

·         a dedicated dissertation Blackboard site

·         a FAQ page on Blackboard maintained by the Dissertation Officer

Transferable skills and personal qualities

During this course unit, you will be encouraged to develop the following abilities and skills:

  • critical reading of primary research literature in geography
  • project design incorporating sampling design and research strategies
  • time management and project coordination
  • self-motivation, self-discipline and organisation
  • data analysis and interpretation
  • experience in writing, formatting, editing and presenting a complex, multi-chapter document including up to 12,000 words of text plus images, tables and appendices

Assessment methods

The dissertation is the single most important piece of work in the degree programme and a rigorous marking procedure is maintained to ensure equivalent and fair marking. Each dissertation is marked independently by two academic members of staff according to clearly defined marking criteria (as shown in the Geography Undergraduate Dissertation Handbook). Each marker produces a detailed feedback highlighting strengths and weaknesses and justifying the mark. Both staff members mark the dissertation “blind”, i.e. they do not know whose dissertation they are marking. If the two independent marks agree within 5% and within a degree classification (i.e. first, 2.1, 2.2, etc.), the average of the marks is taken; if not, the markers must meet to discuss the dissertation, agree a final mark and document the reasons for their decision. In the unlikely situation that they cannot agree a mark, the dissertation mark is resolved by a third marker. After the marks have been released, students may view the feedback sheets, and any marking resolution forms generated in the marking process.

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided in the following ways during this course unit:

·         Discussions with dissertation advisor in semester 1 meetings

·         Written and verbal feedback from the dissertation advisor on one draft chapter, submitted prior to the start of semester 2.

·         Generic advice and support from the Dissertation Officer, typically via the Blackboard FAQ

Recommended reading

Flowerdew, R. and Martin, D. (2005) Methods in Human Geography: A guide for students doing a research project, Harlow, Prentice-Hall.

Gomez, B. and Jones, J.P. III (2010) Research Methods in Geography, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell.

Greetham B (2009) How to write your undergraduate dissertation, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kitchin R and Tate N J (2000) Conducting research into human geography: theory, methodology and practice, Harlow, Prentice Hall

Parsons, T. and Knight, P.G. (2005) How to do your dissertation in geography and related disciplines, London: Routledge.

Walliman N (2004) Your undergraduate dissertation: the essential guide for success, London: Sage.

 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 4
Tutorials 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 393

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jennifer O'Brien Unit coordinator

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