Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Tied Level 3 Credits 40 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to F800


  • Taken year 2 either as study abroad; or on the Singapore or California Exchange Programme; or a year out on a VSO training programme


  • NONE

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • NONE


  • To enable students to plan and execute a substantial piece of independent geographical research on an approved topic
  • To provide students with an opportunity to collect and analyse data from primary and/or secondary sources using mainly natural scientific research methods
  • To encourage students to develop the transferable skills of advanced literacy and presentation


  • An individual piece of work chosen by the student and approved by the Department's Director of Education
  • Early formulation of the topic and progress towards completion are monitored by the Dissertation Supervisor, with whom there are six discussion tutorials during Level 3
  • The dissertation should be based mainly on primary and/or secondary science research. It may relate to courses or field work undertaken whilst abroad, but this is not compulsory

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Formulation: identify a clear objective; establish the relevant substantive and theoretical context; produce a scholarly and critical review of relevant literature
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Use appropriate and relevant natural science research methods; identify a logical structure and argument; show relevance and depth; produce a critical appraisal of the outcome
Key Skills:
  • Demonstrate advanced skills of literacy, numeracy, graphicacy, editing and proof-reading, documentation and bibliography
  • Conceptualisation – consider and formulate a research question and methodology of appropriate and completable scope, drawing on relevant literature
  • Research – conduct data gathering and analysis in an academically rigorous manner
  • Synthesis – consider findings with reference to empirical questions and scholarly debates as relevant

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 organization and analysis
  • Students have contact with a Dissertation Advisor while abroad, and self directed work makes an important contribution to the formulation of the project, which may be related to the country to which they have been. We expect that most of the data analysis and writing up take place during Level 3

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials (individual) 6 Terms 1 & 2 Typically 30 minutes 3
Student Preparation & Reading Time 397
Total 400

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 10,000 words 100% NONE

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback on a) eight page draft dissertation chapter and b) two page outline of the dissertation consisting of section headings. This is to be submitted in the last week of Term 1. Staff provide formative feedback, including an indicative mark for the work submitted.

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