Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to L703
Tied to L705


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To enable students to apply the skills and methods acquired in the core and option modules in the MArts to a specialist topic
  • To acquire an advanced knowledge and understanding of a specialist sub-field/topic of human geography research
  • To enable students to undertake a research based project of their own choosing, designed to yield results of sufficient relevance and quality to be considered for submission to a journal (if appropriate)


  • The research project enables students to develop and execute an extended piece of research on a specialised topic that complements and enhances departmental research. It will be developed in consultation with an allocated supervisor, and must be within the spirit and practical scope of the MArts degree programme. The topic will be approved by the Module Convenor. Detailed guidelines on format and procedures will be provided in the Degree Programme Guide

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • In-depth understanding of a specialised topic in human geography, in relation to the programme route followed, and through engagement with the literature and supervisors
  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of a specialised area including, where appropriate, theory and methods
  • Advanced understanding of data acquisition, analysis and presentation in the chosen field of research
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to frame a piece of research within a wider academic context, and then to identify and develop the necessary capacity to conduct research under that framing
  • Capability to carry out and report a piece of focused research
  • Acquisition of sufficient research skills through the production of a report and oral presentation to prepare a student for doctoral-level research / professional placement
  • Critical awareness of a specific area of the literature
  • Awareness of health & safety and ethical issues in research
Key Skills:
  • Ability to write an independent advanced level report of a substantial nature
  • Skill to write clearly and concisely, explaining why the chosen topic of research is important, critiquing previous research, and providing a coherent analysis and discussion of findings
  • Capability to independently manage a research project (under guidance from and in dialogue with supervisors), from the formulation of research questions, to the collection and analysis of data, to the presentation of the report
  • Advanced quantitative data analysis appropriate to the topic of the research including: spatial analysis, statistical methods and modelling techniques
  • Exercise of initiative and skill in written and oral communication

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

  • Students will be responsible for developing a project within a topic area which will be approved by the module convenor
  • Teaching and learning will occur in both group and individual formats. Group sessions will consist of two timetabled meetings: one to introduce the aims and scope of the module and to discuss initial project ideas, and a second to allow students to present their dissertation proposals and receive formative feedback from the rest of the cohort.
  • Individual and 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. Group meetings between a small number of students (a maximum of 4) and a supervisor will take place during the course of planning, researching and writing up the research project. The conduct of these meetings will be negotiated between staff member and group of students, but they may involve: (a) collective discussion of shared readings relating to project areas; (b) group discussion of specific readings relating to individual projects; (c) discussion of research design and practice; (d) presentations to the small group; (e) discussion of emerging themes from analysis and (e) writing workshops. The specific timing of individual and small group meetings will not be prescribed by the convenor or timetable but will be agreed by student and supervisor based on general guidance for development of the research project.
  • For formative assessment, the student will produce a research project proposal and resources form (including logistical issues, health and safety and ethical considerations, equipment requirements, and costs) and will receive formative feedback from their supervisor. The student will additionally receive formative feedback on both a draft section and initial draft of the report. The timing and content of individual work will be specified in the module guide and informal feedback will be built into the schedule of meetings. Feedback will be given in individual meetings
  • Assessment is by means of a research paper of 10,000 words (including footnotes but excluding references) (90% assessment weighting). The research paper 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. It will be written and organised in the style of an academic journal manuscript, and it should be of sufficient scope and quality to be considered for submission to a peer-reviewed journal, if appropriate.
  • The module and assessment will conclude with a 15 minute oral presentation of the research findings in a conference format towards the end of term 3 (and after submission of the research paper) (10% summative assessment weighting)

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 2 Varies 3 hours 6
Small Group and Individual Supervision Varies Varies Varies 16
Conference 1 End of summer term 6 hours 6
Self-directed learning 572
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Research Paper Component Weighting: 90%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Paper 10,000 words 100%
Component: Oral Presentation of Research Findings Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation of Research Findings 15 minutes (including questions) 100%

Formative Assessment:

The student will submit four pieces of work for formative assessment: 1) Research proposal (1,000 words) 2) Resources form, including logistical issues, health and safety considerations, equipment requirements, and costs 3) Draft section of research project paper and 4) Initial draft of report. The supervisors will provide written and verbal feedback on the research proposal and resources form, verbal feedback on the draft section, and written and verbal feedback on a draft of the research project report. The rest of the cohort will also provide verbal feedback on the research proposal during the research proposal seminar.

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