Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap
Tied to F8K207


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide an opportunity for students to engage in a substantial piece of scholarship into an appropriate area of their choice and under suitable supervisory guidance. The dissertation is the culmination of the Masters Programme.
  • To enable students to develop a sound critical understanding of the choice and application of a research methodology in relation to a substantive topic in the field of human geography.


  • An individual piece of work chosen by the student and approved by the disertation supervsior.
  • Organisation and logical structure.
  • Clear appraisal of the outcomes of the research.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will develop an advanced understanding of the theory and current state of knowledge in the area of human geography in which they conduct their research.
  • Students will develop an advanced understanding of methodological issues in the area of human geography in which they conduct their research.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able to critically reflect on the development, application / testing, and evaluation of appropriate methods of research and analysis.
  • Students will be able to recognise the epistemological implications of their choice of research methods.
  • Students will be able to recognise the ethical and political implications of their choice of research methods.
Key Skills:
  • Students will hone skills to write clearly and concisely, explaining why their topic of research is important, critiquing previous research, and providing a coherent discussion of their findings.
  • Students will become familiar with the major principles of research design, including time management and costing.
  • Students will learn to manage a research project from an initial idea, the development of a research question, collection of data to the presentation of a dissertation.
  • Students will be able to conduct advanced quantitative and / or qualitative analysis.
  • Students will be able to use computer software for analysis and presentation of data where appropriate.

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

  • It is their own work on a topic of their own choice, done largely in their own time and reflecting their level of training, attitude, motivation, powers of organisation and analysis.
  • The dissertation is suported by meetings with the supervior(s) who make an important contribution to the development of the formulation, the data analysis and writing up. This means that the supervisor and student meet to agree a plan of work and regularly thereafter to review progress.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Meeting with Supervisor Varies Varies Varies 10
Preparation & Reading 595
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 15,000 100%

Formative Assessment:

During the dissertation process the student will produce working documents regularly for comment upon by the supervisor. Such documents could take the form of, for example, chapter plans, literature reviews, field reports or draft chapters.

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