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School of Environment, Education and Development

Student of environmental monitoring and modelling at The University of Manchester
MSc Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Reconstruction
Develop your environmental fieldwork skills, data handling and analysis at master's level.

MSc Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Reconstruction / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Dissertation Support

Unit code GEOG60662
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? No


Dissertation skills training (written and graphical) and proposal/poster dissertation preparation. Introduction to research methods research design, ethics, and risk assessment.  


1. To introduce students to the culture of research.
2. To encourage students to plan and design their dissertation.
3. To enable production of professional reports.
4. To introduce students to a range of both research and career options appropriate to the skills acquired on the course


The unit will include the following elements (timetable to be confirmed):

Introduction to Dissertation Support and assessments

Research design, ethics, risk assessment

Assessment I Introduction: Grant Application

Potential dissertation topics workshop

Dissertation consultation meetings with MSc Directors.

Students notify Directors of titles and abstracts in this meeting for discussion and clarification.

Students formally submit titles online. Directors then allocate supervisors.

Communicating Science Lecture

Assessment II Introduction: Poster Design

Employer seminars

Poster presentation session (at the end of the unit)

*Students are also required to attend Physical Geography Research seminars

Teaching and learning methods

 1. Introduction to the module and assessment

2. Introduction to the dissertation and research design. Includes detail on form and content as well as risk assessment and ethics.

3. Development of a detailed grant application to encourage students to think about project planning, time tabling, and resources needed for dissertation (50% of unit marks)

4. Various lectures covering research design, ethics, risk assessment, potential dissertation topics, seminars with employers, and assignment of dissertation supervisors.  This will also include Geography Research Seminar series.

4. Poster presentation based on chosen dissertation topic (50% of unit marks)


Knowledge and understanding

Understand: the nature of research and report writing; the role of fieldwork; how to plan and budget a research project.

Intellectual skills

Critical writing, analysis of academic texts and research methods, theoretical research design, and project planning

Practical skills

Have improved writing skills for research proposals; acquired skills in making scientific figures, posters, and talks; prepare a detailed proposal for their dissertation/research review; present preliminary ideas for dissertation research projects.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Have met several environmental practitioners and understand the main aspects of their professional life 

Assessment methods

Mock grant application     50%

Presentation and research content + graphical design (via a poster)  50%

Attendance, and satisfactory completion, of research design and data analysis classes  Pass/Fail

Attendance at all specified School Research Seminars and associated tutorials.  Pass/Fail

Feedback methods

Written feedback will be provided within 15 working days of assignment submission.

Recommended reading

Core text: There is an extensive range of reading material associated with dissertation preparation and research methods and specific reading will be distributed by the module convenor as appropriate.  Two key resources are:

A useful generic text relevant for both Undergraduate and Masters dissertations is:

Knight, P.G. and Parsons, T. (2004) How to Do Your Dissertation in Geography and Related Disciplines. Routledge. 2nd Edition. 168 pages.

 Other learning materials:

  • Goudie, A. (Ed.), 1997. The human impact reader: readings and case studies. Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Gregory, K.J., 1985. The Nature of Physical Geography. Edward Arnold, London.
  • Haines-Young, R., and Petch, J., 1986. Physical Geography: its Nature and Methods. Paul Chapman Ltd., London.
  • Kneale, P. E. 1999. Study Skills for Geography Students: A Practical Guide. Edward Arnold, London.
  • Medawar, P. 1996. The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice and Other Classic Essays on Science. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • O'Connor, M., 1993. Writing Successfully in Science. Chapman and Hall, London.
  • Parsons, A., and Knight, P.G., 1995. How to do Your Dissertation in Geography and Related Disciplines. Chapman and Hall, London.
  • Thorn, C.E., 1988. An Introduction to Theoretical Geomorphology. Unwin Hyman, Boston and London.
  • Watts, S., and L. Halliwell (Eds.), 1996. Essential Environmental Science: Methods and Techniques. Routledge, London.
  • Wheater, C.P., and P.A. Cook. 2000. Using Statistics to Understand the Environment. Routledge, London and New York.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 16
Practical classes & workshops 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 126

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
PHILIP Hughes Unit coordinator

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