The University of Southampton

GEOG6036 Research Project

Module Overview

Students will conduct a sustained research-based task, culminating in the production of a substantive academic report of professional standard

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide Level 7 students with an opportunity to conduct a sustained research-based task, culminating in the production of a substantive academic report of professional standard (maximum 20,000 words).

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Formulate research questions and associated hypotheses.
  • Understand how to plan a research project in GIS or Remote Sensing to address those research questions.
  • Conduct a review of the relevant literature.
  • Familiar with a range of quantitative and/or qualitative modes of scientific enquiry.
  • Source appropriate data sets (primary and/or secondary) and devised a suitable schedule of analysis, which may involve fieldwork.
  • Analyse data and other evidence, and present your results in a seminar.
  • Produce a final report in the approved format.


There is no formal teaching associated with the Dissertation. Students are allocated to an individual advisor with whom they meet regularly in the summer term and over the summer vacation. In some cases, it is expected that the supervision arrangements will involve a ‘pairing’ of a university-based supervisor with an externally based supervisor in industry or the public sector. Both supervisors provide advice on the GIS and remote sensing component of the thesis, whilst the university-based supervisor provides advice on the design, organisation, implementation and writing-up of the Dissertation. • Broad principles guiding the structure of the dissertation and choice of topic are as follows: • The detail in which the research should be conducted, and the novelty of the results, should exceed what you would expect from a typical undergraduate project. • The research is conducted on a novel question, often associated with a larger research project being conducted by an industrial or public sector organisation. • The project is a piece of quantitative research, not purely descriptive. • The project is centred on one, or a few, question(s) or hypotheses; i.e. the research is towards answering specific questions, not simply “looking at” an aspect of science. • The project clearly sets up methods (observations, analysis, statistical techniques) designed to address the hypothesis. • The project can be focused on existing data, or require the collection of new data, or can aim to develop and test a new method. • The project begins with a literature review on the general area of the research question(s), providing you with the background to understand the issues associated with the research. The literature review also provides material suitable for the introduction to the dissertation. • Because the project is a novel piece of research, it might fail to reach the goals set. This does not constitute a failed MSc project! It should be clear why the project ran into problems, and the dissertation can still critically assess the research and the reasons for the failure. This is particularly applicable to projects that aim to develop new laboratory or analysis techniques.

Special Features

The module will be accessible to all students.

Learning and Teaching

Independent Study150
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Some projects may raise ethical issues, especially where human or animal subjects are involved. The need for Ethics Assessment should be discussed at an early stage and the relevant ERGO procedure followed. Affected students must not commence their resear.

Further information on ethics assessment.

Supervisors will recommend initial reading and will arrange training and support for any specialised equipment or software. Supervisors will also be responsible for ensuring that all necessary Risk Assessments have been completed and copies lodged with th. 


Assessment Strategy

Following submission, the two copies of the dissertation will each be sent to the supervisor for marking, with one being sent on to a member of university staff who has had no direct input to the project. Please note that supervisors are not allowed to provide any comment on your written work, so do not send them any written work for their feedback. However, if you need you can discuss your overall structure, format etc. with your supervisor. Following marking, both examiners meet to reconcile any differences in marks and arrive at an agreed mark. In the event of any failure to arrive at an agreed mark, a third university staff member will act as arbitrator. Recommendations are then made to the School Board of Examiners for the M.Sc. degree to be awarded, provided the examiners were satisfied that the dissertation passes at the M.Sc. level. Oral examination of students is not envisaged, apart from under exceptional circumstances, such as where the dissertation places a student at the borderline of gaining a distinction grade.


MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%
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