CP0313: Research Dissertation

School Cardiff School of Geography and Planning
Department Code GEOPL
Module Code CP0313
External Subject Code K400
Number of Credits 30
Level L6
Language of Delivery English
Module Leader DR Kersty Hobson
Semester Autumn Semester
Academic Year 2017/8

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

12000 words


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. 

How the module will be delivered

  • Lectures – these lectures aim 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 research.
  • 1 Workshop – this workshop will be structured and organised to allow students to discuss problems and issues related to the analysis and writing up of the research within small groups.
  • One-to-One supervisory meetings, to be organised between student and supervisor.

Outline Description of Module

The research dissertation is the chance for students to further 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 undertaken a wide range of innovative and ambitious research projects, many using case studies from the UK and overseas. The research dissertation represents a major piece of work and is something that can help students stand out to potential employers, sometimes helping students gain employment in certain sectors. Because of its importance, it counts as a thirty-credit module, and students are expected to devote half of the Autumn semester to 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 and practice. 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

  1. provide a formal understanding of the principles that govern the activities of social research
  2. connect theoretical materials with particular case studies through a critical analysis in a literature review chapter
  3. demonstrate an understanding of qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods approaches to research in a methodology chapter
  4. collect, evaluate, analyse, and interpret various types of data to answer specific research questions
  5. show competence in communicating research findings, drawing conclusions and (where relevant) making appropriate recommendations.
  6. display an appreciation of the ethics involved in undertaking research, and complete an ethical approval form before undertaking any data collection.


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

Assessment Breakdown

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

Essential Reading and Resource List

Denscombe, M. (2014) The good research guide for small-scale social research projects. Open University Press, Buckingham, 5th Edition

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

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

T. Parsons & P G Knight (2015) How to do your dissertation in Geography and related disciplines. London: Chapman & Hall, 3rd Edition

Rudestam, K.E.R. & Newton, R.R. (2014) Surviving your dissertation: a comprehensive guide to content and process. Sage Publications, London, 4th Edition.

Walliman, N. (2011) Your research project: a step by step guide for the first time researcher. Sage, London, 3rd edition.

Background Reading and Resource List

Babbie E. (2015) The Practice of Social Research, Belmont CA: Wadsworth, 14th edition


Bryman, A. (2015) Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press, 5th edition


May, T. (2011) Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process Buckingham: Open University Press, 4th edition

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
  • Supervision

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