MSc Geographical Information Science

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Dissertation Support

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG60662
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit is designed to support students through the process of planning and executing their dissertation. Students will receive skills training specific to dissertation research including research methods and approaches, research design, project planning, ethics, and risk assessment.


  • To introduce students to approaches to, and process of scientific/geographical research.
  • To guide students through the planning and design of their dissertation.
  • To enable production of professional reports.
  • To develop students' skills in searching for and analysing academic literature

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the nature of the research process, through effective planning of their dissertation research
  • Evaluate the strengths of different research methods and approaches
  • Design clear and achievable research questions

Intellectual skills

  • Identify appropriate academic sources
  • Critically evaluate academic sources
  • Abstract and synthesise information
  • Identify an appropriate dissertation topic and justify the  significance of proposed research
  • Select and justify appropriate research methods for their dissertation research

Practical skills

  • Use databases and search tools to find academic literature
  • Use IT to an advanced level to design and produce a digital academic poster
  • Plan a research project.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Communicate written ideas and information clearly and concisely
  • Present ideas clearly during oral presentations
  • Manage time and study independently
  • Work productively in small groups, discussing ideas with peers and providing formative feedback on the ideas of others

Assessment methods

Critical Annotated Bibliography

1,500 words


Dissertation Proposal Poster



Feedback methods

  • Summative coursework feedback available to students via turnitin on both assessments within 15 working days of submission
  • Oral formative feedback on Dissertation Proposal Poster at poster presentation session from course staff, dissertation supervisors, and other staff and PGRs.
  • Oral formative feedback on dissertation ideas through discussions with supervisor
  • Peer to peer formative feedback through in-class workshops and discussions

Recommended reading

Core text: There is an extensive range of reading material associated with dissertation preparation and research methods and specific reading will be distributed by the module convenor as appropriate.  Two key resources are:

A useful generic text relevant for both Undergraduate and Masters dissertations is:

Knight, P.G. and Parsons, T. (2004) How to Do Your Dissertation in Geography and Related Disciplines. Routledge. 2nd Edition. 168 pages.

 Other learning materials:

  • Goudie, A. (Ed.), 1997. The human impact reader: readings and case studies. Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Gregory, K.J., 1985. The Nature of Physical Geography. Edward Arnold, London.
  • Haines-Young, R., and Petch, J., 1986. Physical Geography: its Nature and Methods. Paul Chapman Ltd., London.
  • Kneale, P. E. 1999. Study Skills for Geography Students: A Practical Guide. Edward Arnold, London.
  • Medawar, P. 1996. The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice and Other Classic Essays on Science. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • O'Connor, M., 1993. Writing Successfully in Science. Chapman and Hall, London.
  • Parsons, A., and Knight, P.G., 1995. How to do Your Dissertation in Geography and Related Disciplines. Chapman and Hall, London.
  • Thorn, C.E., 1988. An Introduction to Theoretical Geomorphology. Unwin Hyman, Boston and London.
  • Watts, S., and L. Halliwell (Eds.), 1996. Essential Environmental Science: Methods and Techniques. Routledge, London.
  • Wheater, C.P., and P.A. Cook. 2000. Using Statistics to Understand the Environment. Routledge, London and New York.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Claire Goulsbra Unit coordinator

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