KE6000 - Geography and Environment Dissertation

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What will I learn on this module?

This module is designed to support you in independently pursuing an original piece of research on a geographical or environmental topic of your own choice grounded in final year specialist option modules. Dependent upon your programme of study, you will draw upon and develop your research skills in answering research questions/hypothesis on a dissertation topic within the social, humanities, natural and environmental disciplines. You will develop expertise in:

• identifying a suitable topic and in reviewing critically the relevant academic literature;
• formulating research questions/hypotheses and appropriate methods of inquiry;
• collecting your own data and/or using existing data sets and/or engaging in an analysis of the research literature;
• the ability to analyse and interpret your results using appropriate quantitative, statistical and/or qualitative techniques,
• relating the findings to existing and up-to-date literature;
• oral, visual and written presentation of your research project;
• objectively appraising the ethical considerations of conducting research; and
• managing and implementing a large independent project.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, workshops and supervisory meetings, in these taught sessions and throughout the year you will be directed to additional resources to aid you in completing your dissertation. Feedback from your supervisor on your presentation and submission of a formative change will highlight areas of improvement before the final submission of your dissertation. The lectures will cover general material on how to develop and complete your dissertation and will also provide extracts from dissertations carried out by students on your programme of study with examples of good and bad practice to support your learning. Workshops run by staff on the use of statistics and analytical methods are designed to support your ability to problem solve using your own data. You will be allocated a dissertation supervisor who will provide specialist guidance on your own dissertation topic throughout the year and will be your first port of call with any questions about your dissertation. If you are using laboratory techniques, specialist equipment or bespoke IT software, staff will guide you in learning their use although you are responsible for their application.

This module is largely an independent module and in your own time you will be expected to take ownership of your own learning through to process of self-reflection of your own needs and, using the guidance provided, ensuring you master all the skills and information needed to complete your project. By applying what you have learnt and by engaging in the process of research itself you will become more self-sufficient as the year progresses and will have gained the key employability skills of time-management, the retrieval and critical application of relevant knowledge and information, effective communication, problem solving and analysis, and the ability to make informed decisions.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Module content and guidance will be made available by your module tutor in lectures as well as via the virtual learning platform, Blackboard and your learning experience will be enhanced by using discussion boards where you gain support from your peers in addition to being facilitated by the module tutor. Other electronic communication mechanisms will also be used by staff in response to individual questions. Material and information on statistics, time management, advice from pervious students, appropriate exemplars of submissions and best practice will be available on the module’s eLearning Portal site. Extracts from examples of previous dissertations provided will cover a diversity of topics and approaches in both the social and scientific disciplines of geography and environment that you can then transfer and place in context with your own dissertation. You will also be supported with the inclusion of a digital reading list providing generic reading covering the topics of how to complete a dissertation, academic writing style and analysis techniques.

Your learning journey will be guided by 1:1 meetings with your project supervisor who will:
• guide you through the research process drawing upon their specialist knowledge of your topic, directing you to access the most up-to-date literature, methods, analysis, equipment and software;
• advise you on ethical issues involved in carrying out your research;
• be available to provide advice and answer questions on assessments and how you engage with them;
• give detailed constructive feedback for a complete chapter of your dissertation helping you to improve content and style of writing; and
• give feedback on two assignments, an individual presentation and a conference poster or executive summary that will contribute to the overall improvement of your final dissertation submission.

Teaching staff operate an ‘open door’ policy for students meaning you can approach them anytime during normal office hours, or via email, to answer questions, receive feedback and support your learning on the module.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO1: Evaluate extensive analytical and theoretical information of a significant and feasible topic within the social and scientific discipline of Geography and Environment.
• MLO2: Formulate research questions/hypotheses within your chosen topic and relate these to existing subject knowledge and literature.
• MLO3: Design a methodology in relation to your defined research questions/hypotheses based on evidence of best practice in the literature to carry out the research, recognising and evaluating the diversity of possible methods, techniques and sources of data.
• MLO4: Interpret and evaluate the findings of your research in relation to other published research on the topic.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO5: Critically appraise the contested and provisional nature of knowledge on your topic.
• MLO6: Demonstrate expertise in conducting primary research, and/or in accessing relevant secondary data, including technical skills, interpersonal communication skills, personal work
organisation, initiative and originality.
• MLO7: Analyse, synthesise and interpret data using appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative techniques, whilst accounting for the difficulties of uncertainty and precision.
• MLO8: Impart information that is clear, concise, logically structured, coherent, well-reasoned, interesting, well-presented, and adheres to the relevant conventions of academic writing style, including the appropriate presentation of geographical and environmental data/information for oral, visual and written communication.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO9: You will be able to take responsibility for independent learning and enquiry in a subject area related to your own discipline.
• MLO10: You will be able to objectively appraise the ethics of your topic in scientific and social research.

How will I be assessed?

Summative Assessment:

Individual Oral Presentation 15mins
Weighted 10% of this module
In semester 1 you will plan and prepare to give an individual oral presentation focused on justifying your chosen topic and research questions and detailing the methods used to answer them.
MLOs 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 & 10

11,000 word Dissertation
Weighted 80% of this module
For this assignment you are asked to submit a dissertation on all aspects of your research into the specialist topic of your choice.
MLO 1-10

~ 1,500 words Conference Poster/executive summary
Weighted 10% of this module
For this assignment you will be producing your findings for an audience. The submission can take the form of either a conference poster or executive summary. This will be presented along with other topics on your programme of study in a showcase event setting. You will be expected to present results and analysis of your findings along with some initial conclusions.
MLO 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8


Formative assessment/support processes and feedback
Using the opportunities to meet with your supervisor you can gain formative feedback before your first assignment. Questions asked during the presentation and verbal feedback provided in a follow up meeting with your supervisor provides invaluable formative feedback to help you in progressing with your dissertation.

Before the final submission of your project you can submit one complete chapter of your dissertation. The chapter submitted can be agreed with your supervisor but it is recommended that you submit your discussion chapter if possible. Staff will provide you with comments on how to improve content, writing style, structure and presentation.

Your individual supervisor is also available throughout the year to provide formative feedback during scheduled meetings and via email.

Please note that where MLOs are assessed in more than one assignment they will test different elements of these module learning outcomes and this will be made clear in the individual marking criteria for the assessment.

Pre-requisite(s)

None

Co-requisite(s)

None

Module abstract

For this module you get to choose a topic that inspires you and/or supports your chosen career path. With the support of staff that publish and specialise in your chosen field, you will carry out and implement a large research project. You get to apply cutting-edge research methods, techniques and use specialist equipment/software to answer questions that can add to our current level of understanding, and done well can go on to be published. You are asked to give a presentation on your dissertation to fellow students, produce a conference poster/executive summary and write a dissertation. By applying what you will learn on this module, by engaging in the process of research itself, you will become more self-sufficient as the year progresses and will gain the key employability skills of time-management, retrieval and critical application of relevant knowledge and information, effective communication (oral, visual and written), problem solving and analysis, and the ability to make informed decisions.

Course info

UCAS Code F840

Credits 40

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

Fee Information

Module Information

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