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Study information

Solutions Project (Academic)

Module titleSolutions Project (Academic)
Module codeGEOM146
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Rebecca Sandover (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Developing skills to conduct original research will be vital for your ability affect meaningful change. Your Solutions Project will allow you to focus on a topic of your choice. You will be responsible for designing, planning and implementing the study, as well as analysing the data and writing it up. You will define your project over Terms 1 and 2 via seminars and workshops. By the start of the summer term, you will have a project proposal agreed and an academic supervisor assigned. You will be encouraged to develop your proposal in collaboration with one of the programme’s academics and so apply your learning to a real-world sustainability challenge.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will allow you take a deep dive into a sustainability topic. You will gain experience in designing and carrying out a substantial research project. This will link the theory and knowledge you gained during the taught components of the programme to a specific sustainability challenge. You will be responsible for planning and conducting the research dissertation, with input from your academic supervisor.

  • You will gain an overview of a significant body of literature in a particular study area of sustainability.
  • You will learn how to synthesise and structure this information. You will situate your dissertation project within this body of work and so identify gaps in research literature.
  • You will formulate a research method with clearly identified aims and objectives.
  • You will collect data and subject this to analysis and interpretation.
  • You will produce a dissertation that reports on this significant piece of work.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Critically and independently assess the field in which your research project will be conducted using appropriate methods and techniques
  • 2. Follow systematically and consistently the phases of a research project, i.e. design, data collection, data analysis and report writing using appropriate methods and techniques

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Assimilate and critically review academic literature that is relevant to the dissertation topic
  • 4. Identify and apply, independently and with originality, appropriate methodologies and theories for solving a range of complex and demanding problems in sustainability and environmental science
  • 5. Independently apply established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within sustainability science

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Devise and sustain independently a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 7. Effectively communicate complex arguments, evidence and conclusions in a range of general and specialised contexts using a variety of formats to a range of audiences
  • 8. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data and complete a range of research tasks independently
  • 9. Reflect effectively and independently on learning experiences and evaluate critically personal achievements

Syllabus plan

Potential dissertation topics are introduced in the Global Challenges module, this includes projects presented by academics and external partner organisations. You will discuss research design and potential dissertation topics during lectures  and workshops. You will continue to explore possible dissertation topics over Terms 1 and 2.

Teaching in Term 1 and 2 will include a series of methods lectures, seminars and workshops that will ensure you have sufficient research design skills and abilities to progress your learning. Topics will cover research design, research ethics and qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods.  You will use the skills and knowledge gained in Term 1 to produce a summative mini-methods project which will provide you with the opportunity to practice research, data analysis and writing.

Teaching in Term 2 will equip you with an understanding of how to conduct a period of independent research. You will prepare and present a formative elevator pitch presentation  during the middle of Term 2. You will formulate a detailed dissertation proposal at the start  of Term 3, including risk assessment and ethics forms. You will either find for yourself or be assigned a dissertation supervisor at the university based on your research proposal. You will meet with your supervisor on a regular basis, either in person, via telecommunication or email.

In Term 3 you will begin your research. You will arrange meetings with your supervisor on an individual basis. Other staff will be available by arrangement for other specialist advice if required.

Writing up will take place in August, with completion and hand-in of a dissertation reporting on your project due in September.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching16Lectures (Terms 1 and 2)
Scheduled learning and teaching4Methods workshops (Terms 1 and 2)
Scheduled learning and teaching2Progress Pitch presentations (Terms 1 and 2)
Scheduled learning and teaching5Supervisions (Term 3)
Guided independent study573Reading and research, data collection, analysis, report writing

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Progress pitchEquivalent to 250 words1-3Peer-to-peer/in-class feedback from lecturers
Research Proposal1,000 words2, 3, 4, 5Peer-to-peer/in-class feedback from lecturers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Solutions Mini-Methods project102,000 words2, 4-5, 7-9Written/oral on request
Solutions project dissertation9014,000 words1-9Written/oral on request

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Solutions Mini-Methods Project (10%)Solutions Mini-Methods Project (10%)2, 4-5, 7-9Referral/deferral period
Solutions project dissertation (90%)Solutions project dissertation (90%)1-9Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e., a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to redo the relevant assessment. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Specific readings will be provided for the module consistent with the taught areas of theory for that year but in general you will be expected to read original theory articles or book chapters. A couple of examples are given below but these may not be included in the year’s syllabus. You can contact the module lead in the Autumn semester for details of the theory that will be covered in the upcoming year.

  • Barass, R., 2002. Scientists Must Write: A Guide to Better Writing for Scientists, Engineers and Students
  • DeLyser, D., et al. 2009. The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Geography, Sage Publications
  • Miller, T.R., Wiek, A., Sarewitz, D., Robinson, J., Olsson, L., Kriebel, D. and Loorbach, D., 2014. The future of sustainability science: a solutions-oriented research agenda. Sustainability science, 9(2), pp.239-246.
  • Ruxton, G.D. and Colegrave, N., 2006. Experimental Design for the Life Sciences. OUP. ISBN 01992 52327

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Environmental sustainability, theory, practice, policy, research

Credit value60
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date