Skip to main content

Study information

Dissertation with International Research Placement

Module titleDissertation with International Research Placement
Module codeGEOM416
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Tomas Chaigneau (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The dissertation requires you to pursue a programme of independent and original research of your determination on a topic commensurate with themes relevant to your programme of study. It is the single largest piece of work you will do on the programme, and allows you to demonstrate that you can undertake – with appropriate guidance and supervision – your own independent, high quality and substantial research into a subject of your choice, drawing on relevant literature and theory. You will undertake an international research placement during the third term to join a research lab at an international University. You will work and be supervised by both members of the research lab and a member of staff at Exeter. Undertaking this work will give you the opportunity to improve your research skills and enhance your in depth knowledge in a chosen field.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The dissertation aims to nurture further your skills in critically reviewing relevant theory and literature, formulating appropriate research questions, planning and conducting an independent research programme, the analysis and evaluation of results from both primary and secondary data sources, as appropriate, and presenting the results within a set deadline. The topic of the dissertation will be agreed with relevant staff and should be original and theoretically informed. The best dissertations aim to make an original contribution to a clearly defined area of research in your chosen field.

The module aims to increase your transferrable and employability skills, including:

  • practical skills (environmental and social impact assessment tools)
  • problem-solving (linking theory to practice, responding to novel and unfamiliar problems)
  • managing structure (identifying key demands of tasks),
  • audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively, responding to questions) by critically discussing practical case studies and reflecting on stakeholder viewpoints.

The dissertation is an example of applied learning that is research-led and puts employability at the heart of the module, giving you an opportunity to design, plan and carry out an interview on a research-led theme related to sustainability science. The module will draw explicitly on the convenor and his/her team staff’s transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary methodological expertise in sustainability research.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Collect, collate and prioritise data from disparate sources
  • 2. Independently select appropriate methodologies to research problems
  • 3. Critically analyse and integrate both primary and secondary data (where appropriate) in a coherent manner using appropriate research techniques and methods
  • 4. Work independently within a defined timeframe

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Apply conceptual and theoretical arguments in the discussion of issues
  • 6. Critically analyse issues in different geographical locations around the globe
  • 7. Synthesise material from a broad range of relevant areas and associated literature in order to address specific research questions
  • 8. Identify and apply appropriate methodologies in the context of wider research
  • 9. Undertake research in a rigorous and ethically sound manner
  • 10. Demonstrate a self-reflective approach to learning

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 11. Communicate effectively subject based knowledge and academic and research skills in writing and orally
  • 12. Identify and solve problems
  • 13. Organise and effectively present material and ideas in different formats
  • 14. Manage deadlines and targets
  • 15. Learn independently

Syllabus plan

You will have the opportunity to discuss dissertation ideas within the transdisciplinary research methods for sustainability science module and also in dissertation module introductory lectures where you will meet staff to hear about their interests and possible project ideas. You will formulate your detailed dissertation proposal and risk assessment and ethics forms following discussion with relevant staff. A dissertation supervisor will be allocated on the basis of the research proposal and will meet with you on a regular basis, offer specific advice on the research topic and monitor your progress through contact via meetings, telephone discussions, conference or email. The development of your ideas and research project design will be informed by undertaking a critical review of relevant literature. In term 3 you will be expected to 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 June and July, with completion and hand-in of a dissertation reporting on your analytical work due in August.

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 Teaching15Formal lectures, group briefing sessions with module convenor, fellow students and supervisors to discuss research design, project development, requirements and progress
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Individual meetings with supervisor
Guided Independent Study875Additional research, reading and writing of the literature review and dissertation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Regular meetings with dissertation supervisorOngoingAllOral

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
Dissertation proposal102000 wordsAllWritten
Literature review204000 wordsAllWritten
Dissertation709000 wordsAllWritten

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Dissertation proposalDissertation proposal AllAugust Ref/Def
Literature reviewLiterature reviewAllAugust Ref/Def
Dissertation Dissertation AllAugust Ref/Def

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 resubmit the relevant assessment. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Bell, J (2005) Doing Your Research Project: A guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science, Open University Press.
  • Bernard, H.R. (2011) Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, AltaMira Press.
  • Burns, R (2000) Introduction to Research Methods, Sage.
  • Clifford, N and Valentine, G (2003) Key Methods in Geography, Sage.
  • Cook, I and Crang, M (1995) Doing Ethnographies, Sage.
  • Cresswell, J (2003) Research Design: qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods, Sage.
  • Gillham, B (2000) Developing a Questionnaire, Continuum.
  • Peter, J (2000) Analysing Public Policy, Continuum.
  • Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies, Sage.
  • Wheeler, D, Shaw, G and Barr, S (2004) Statistical Techniques in Geographical Analysis, Fulton.

Key words search

Independent, research, data sources, theoretical, study, time management, problem solving, research design, research, methodology, arguments

Credit value90
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

GEOM408 Transdisciplinary Methods for Sustainability Science

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date