CP0313 - Research Dissertation

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCP0313
External Subject CodeK400
Number of Credits30
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Pauline Card
SemesterAutumn Semester
Academic Year2015/6

Outline Description of Module

The research dissertation is the chance for students to really demonstrate their academic knowledge and skills during their degree. It is the only module that allows students to develop their own interests in the form of independent study. In the past, students have developed and studied a wide range of highly innovative and ambitious research projects, many using case studies from overseas. The research dissertation represents a major piece of work and is something that can help you stand out to potential employers and in some cases has helped students gain employment in certain sectors. Because of its importance, it counts as a triple module, and students are expected to devote half of the Autumn semester working on it. The dissertation provides the means of developing students' research and analytical abilities.  It requires that students develop their prescriptive problem-solving abilities by undertaking basic research, and by assessing its contribution to geographical theory. It is a major opportunity for students to analyse in depth an area of literature, which they have chosen for themselves, and to show their practical skills as independent researchers – a key skill in many professions.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

Students should be able to provide a formal understanding of the scientific principles that govern the activities of social research in a  major piece of research

Students should be able to connect theoretical materials with particular case studies through a critical review of current geographical literature in a literature review chapter

Students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods approaches to research in a methodology chapter

Students should be able to collect, evaluate, analyse, and interpret various types of data to answer specific research questions

Students should be able to show competence in communicating research findings, drawing conclusions and (where relevant) making appropriate recommendations.

Students should have developed an appreciation of the morals and ethics involved in undertaking research and completed an ethical approval form before undertaking any data collection.

How the module will be delivered

5 Lectures – to provide guidance on how to manage, analyse and write up a research dissertation. The lectures follow on from guidance given in Year 2 and complement individual supervision of the research


1 Workshop – structured and organised to allow students to discuss problems and issues related to the analysis and writing up of the research within small groups doing similar topics.


One-to-One supervisory meetings (to be organised between student and supervisor)

Skills that will be practised and developed

The dissertation involves essentially individual student-centred learning. Students should be able to work on own research project and manage and organise own timetable

An ability to synthesise information and recognise relevance

An ability to develop a sustained argument

An ability to evaluate and articulate weaknesses in the arguments of others

To be able to communicate geographical ideas fluently by written and visual means

How the module will be assessed

The dissertation reflects the student’s ability to plan, undertake and write-up a major piece of original research within a strict time frame. The dissertation will demonstrate an ability to collect, evaluate, analyse, and interpret various types of data to answer specific research questions, an ability to conduct research requiring substantial individual initiative and a competence in communicating research findings, drawing conclusions and (where relevant) making appropriate (policy) recommendations


Type of assessment





(if applicable)

Approx. date of Assessment



Research Dissertation (12,000 – 14,000 words)





The potential for reassessment in this module

Students are permitted to be reassessed in a module which they have failed, in line with the course regulations. The reassessment will usually take place during the summer.


Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Dissertation 100
Research Dissertation
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

Writing up your dissertation: an overview

Writing the literature review

Writing up the methodology

Presenting the analysis

Bringing the dissertation together: introduction, conclusion and front pieces

Problems solving and trouble shooting


Essential Reading and Resource List

Denscombe, M. (2003) The good research guide for small-scale social research projects. Open University Press, Buckingham., 2nd Edition


Flowerdew, R. and Martin, D. (eds.) (2005) Methods in Human Geography: A Guide for Students Doing

Research Projects, 2nd Edition, Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman


Hart, C. (1998) Doing a Literature Review, London: Sage.


Kneale, P.E. (1999) Study Skills for Geography Students: a practical guide. Arnold. London.


T. Parsons & P G Knight (2005) How to do your dissertation in Geography and related disciplines, London: Chapman & Hall 2nd Edition


Rudestam, K.E.R. & Newton, R.R. (2001) Surviving your dissertation : a comprehensive guide to content and process, Sage Publications, London. 2nd Edition.


Walliman, N. (2001) Your research project: a step by step guide for the first time researcher: Sage, London.

Background Reading and Resource List

Babbie E, 1992, The Practice of Social Research, Belmont CA: Wadsworth.

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