Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap None.


  • None.



Excluded Combination of Modules



  • To enable students to apply the skills and methods acquired in the core and option modules to a topic of relevance to and defined in consultation with industry, government or the NGO sector.
  • To acquire an advanced knowledge and understanding of a specialist sub-field of risk analysis and its relationship to the chosen vocational area.
  • To enable students to undertake a vocationally-focused project in collaboration with a private or public sector partner


  • The vocational dissertation enables students to undertake a vocationally-focused project in collaboration with a private or public sector partner and where the project takes the form of a partner-framed question, student-framed project, leading to both a reflective diary and a consultancy-style report. The topic will be approved by the Programme Manager in consultation with the vocational partner. Detailed guidelines on format and procedures will be provided in the degree programme handbook.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have an in-depth understanding of a single topic in risk, in relation to the programme route followed, the problem identified by their vocational partner (private or public) and their own engagement with the literature and their supervisor
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able to take the framing of a piece of research provided by their vocational partner, to negotiate it to settle on a final framing and then to identify and to develop their necessary capacity to conduct research under that framing
  • Students will be able to demonstrate that they can research and report a piece of focused research that is relevant to a vocational partner, with the report following a format agreed between the partner and the student’s supervisor
  • Through the production of a report on their research, they will demonstrate the research skills necessary to undertake problem-driven research in the private or public sector
Key Skills:
  • Ability to deliberate, to discuss, to negotiate and to decide on research directions, through contact with their vocational partner and/or supervisor (PG1)
  • Ability to write an advanced level report of a substantial nature (PG4)

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students will be responsible for identifying a possible vocational partner, using suggestions provided by the Module Convenor. The Module Convenor may assist with initial contacts with the vocational partner and identify a supervisor.
  • Students will be responsible for meeting any costs associated with any placement (such as travel costs, accommodation, etc).
  • An initial electronic (video-conference preferably; possibly teleconference) meeting between the student, the partner and the supervisor will be used to develop the research focus.
  • The student will then be responsible for developing the proposal for their research, to be agreed by both the vocational partner and the supervisor. This will include a statement from the vocational partner of the resources to be made available to the student, including research tools, contact and, in some cases, desk space.
  • Individual supervision will be provided from the academic except during July and August.
  • Additional guidance, under the agreement, will be provided by the vocational partner.
  • Team support will be arranged for the module during July and August. • The student will produce a project proposal, and will additionally get feedback on two draft sections of the consultancy-style report. The timing and content of this work will be specified in the module guide.
  • Assessment is by means of a consultancy-style report of 10,000 words (including footnotes but excluding references) and a completed reflective research diary. The report will follow the standard format of a consultancy report in the risk industry and a template will be provided to all students on this module. Students will also be advised on the format of their research diary, being given specific advice on the format and examples of good practice.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Meetings with supervisor /industrial partner Varies Varies Varies 10
Workshop 1 Term 2 2 hours 2
Self-directed learning 588
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Vocational Dissertation in the style of a consultancy report Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Vocational Dissertation in the style of a consultancy report 10,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Research diary Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research diary Indeterminate 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Project proposal (500 words). The student will produce a project proposal, and will also get written feedback on two draft sections of the consultancy-style report NB: formative work is a compulsory part of this module.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University