Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2017/18 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 specialist topic of their own choosing.
  • To acquire an advanced knowledge and understanding of a specialist sub-field of hazard, risk and resilience analysis.
  • To enable students to undertake a research-based (academic-facing) project of their own choosing, subject to the constraints set by the route through the programme that they are following.


  • The dissertation enables students to develop and execute an extended piece of research on a specialised topic. It is chosen in consultation with an allocated adviser, and must be within the spirit and practical scope of the degree programme. The topic will be approved by the Module Convenor. 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 specialised topic in risk, in relation to the programme route followed, and their own engagement with the literature and their supervisor (PK3)
  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of a specialised area, including, where appropriate, theory and method;
  • Advanced understanding of data analysis in the area of hazard, risk and resilience in which they conduct their research
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able to frame a piece of research and then to identify and to develop their necessary capacity to conduct research under that framing (PS3)
  • Students will be able to demonstrate that they can research and report a piece of focused research (PS4)
  • Acquisition of sufficient research skills through the production of a dissertation to enable students to start move on to doctoral research (PS5)
  • Critical awareness of a specific area of the HRR literature;
  • Awareness of ethical issues in research, and of the importance of reflexivity about the role of the researcher.
Key Skills:
  • Ability to deliberate, to discuss and to decide on research directions, through contact with their supervisor (PG1)
  • Ability to write an advanced level thesis of a substantial nature (PG4)
  • Ability to write clearly and concisely, explaining why the chosen topic of research is important, critiquing previous research, and providing a coherent discussion of findings;
  • Independent management of a research project (under guidance from an adviser) from the formulation of research questions, to the collection and analysis of data, to the presentation of a dissertation;
  • Advanced quantitative and/or qualitative data analysis.
  • Exercise of initiative and skill in written communication.

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

  • Individual or small group supervision provides a forum in which ongoing work can be discussed in a focused manner with a subject expert, and in which the student is able to acquire and enhance their knowledge and understanding of a specialised field. Students will be directed to an existing body of literature relevant to the subject under study, and advised on the potential sources of data and modes of analysis. As set out below meetings between student and supervisor will take place during the course of planning, research and writing.
  • Individual supervision will be provided during the academic year as required.
  • The student will produce a dissertation proposal, and will additionally get feedback on two draft chapters of the dissertation. The timing and content of this work will be specified in the module guide.
  • Assessment is by means of a dissertation of 15,000 words (including footnotes but excluding references) and a 10 minute oral presentation followed by a 5 minute questioning time. The dissertation is an extended piece of work which requires students to develop and execute independent research, use data in an advanced and sophisticated fashion, and interrogate literatures appropriate to the chosen specialism.
  • Dissertations must be presented in clearly written and structured form.
  • Participation in the end of year Risk Masters conference through a 10 minute oral presentation.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Meetings with supervisor Varies Varies Varies 10
Tutorial 1 0.5 hours 0.5
Workshop 2 Term 2 2 hours 4
Self-directed learning 571.5
End of year Risk Masters Conference 1 1 2 days 14
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 90%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 15000 words 100% Yes
Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation 10 minutes 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Research proposal (500 words).The student will produce a dissertation proposal, and will also get written feedback on two draft chapters of the dissertation. NB: formative work is a compulsory part of this module. Formative feedback will be provided in written and verbal formats disseminated during 1:1 supervision meetings. These feedback meetings will take place following submission of: keywords (November), research proposal (February), risk assessment, ethics and travel forms (May), submission of first and second draft sections (June/July respectively).

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