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 design and undertake a collaborative research project with a partner
  • To enable students to apply and develop the skills and methods acquired in the core and option modules in the MArts to a topic of relevance to and defined in consultation with a partner and a supervisor
  • To acquire an advanced knowledge and understanding of a specialist sub-field of human geography and its relationship to the chosen project topic


  • The collaborative research project enables students to undertake a significant research project in collaboration with a partner leading to both a social science research paper and a partner-oriented report. The nature of the partner and the collaboration will vary but could include: a policy-focused project in collaboration with a private, public or third sector partner; knowledge co-production in partnership with a local community organisation (including trans-local networks); or action research with a group around a particular problem, issue or controversy
  • The topic will be approved by the module convenor in consultation with the supervisor and the partner, and must be within the spirit and practical scope of the MArts degree programme.. 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 Human Geography, in relation to the problem, issue or need identified with the partner and their own engagement with the literature and their supervisor
  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of a specialised area, including, where appropriate, theory and method
  • Advanced understanding of data analysis and dissemination in the area of Human Geography in which they conduct their research and with particular reference to the issues and problems of collaborative Geographical research
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able to develop the framing of a piece of research developed with their partner, to settle on a final framing and then to identify and to develop their necessary capacity to conduct research with their partner
  • Students will be able to demonstrate that they can research and report a piece of focused independent work that is relevant to a partner
  • Through the production of a social science research paper, the student will demonstrate the methodological and/or theoretical skills necessary to undertake advanced Human Geography research into a particular problem, issue or need
  • Students will also demonstrate an ability to synthesise research framing and findings through an oral presentation
Key Skills:
  • Ability to deliberate, to discuss, to negotiate and to decide on research directions, through contact with their partner and supervisor
  • Ability to write an advanced level partner-oriented report of a substantial nature
  • Ability to write clearly and concisely, explaining why the chosen topic of collaborative research is important, critiquing previous research, and providing a coherent discussion of findings
  • Independent management of a collaborative research project (including working with the needs and expectations of a supervisor and a partner) from the formulation of research questions, to the collection and analysis of data, to the presentation of a research paper and a partner-oriented report
  • Advanced quantitative and/or qualitative data analysis as appropriate to the topic area
  • Exercise of initiative and skill in oral communication, including appropriate use of visual aids to support delivery of research presentations

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

  • Students will be principally responsible for identifying a possible partner. Supervisors and/or the module convenor may provide initial contacts depending on the research topic and existing contacts
  • Students will be responsible for meeting any costs associated with the collaborative research project (such as travel costs, accommodation, etc)
  • An initial face-to-face or electronic (video-conference preferably; possibly teleconference) meeting between the student, the partner and the supervisor may be used to develop the research focus depending on the type of research. Depending on the nature of the collaborative project, further meetings between student, partner and the supervisor may take place
  • The student will then be responsible for developing the proposal for their research, to be agreed by both the partner and the supervisor. This may include a statement from the partner on the resources to be made available to the student, including research tools, contact and, in some cases, desk space. Depending on the nature of the partner and the collaboration, a written agreement may be produced by the partner and student before the research begins
  • 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.
  • Additional guidance may be provided by the partner depending on the nature of the research
  • 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
  • Summative assessment is by means of a 5,000 word partner-oriented report that critically engages with the knowledge produced through the process of collaboration (50% assessment weighting). The report will show evidence and understanding of a critical and constructive engagement with the partner. Templates for the above outputs will be provided to students on the module and advice will be given about best practice
  • Summative assessment will also be through a 5, 000 word research paper that will supplement the above output (40% assessment weighting). Students will be advised on the format of their paper, being given examples of good practice
  • 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 report and research paper) (10% summative assessment weighting)

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 2 Varies 2 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: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Paper 5000 words 100%
Component: Partner-Orientated Report Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Partner-Orientated Report 5000 words 100%
Component: Oral Presentation of Research Findings Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation 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 sections of research paper and partner report 4) Initial drafts of research paper and partner report. The supervisors will provide written and verbal feedback on the research proposal and resources form, verbal feedback on the draft sections, and written and verbal feedback on initial drafts of the paper and 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