Module Details

BS781-7-FY-CO: Dissertation: Environmental-Based Masters Courses

Note: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

Year: 2017/18
Department: Biological Sciences (School of)
Essex credit: 60
ECTS credit: 30
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Professor Ian Colbeck
Teaching Staff: Prof Ian Colbeck, Dr Rachel Bragg
Contact details: School Graduate Office, email: bsgradtaught (Non essex users should add to create a full email address)

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

In addition to the core and option modules, you are expected to undertake an independent and original research dissertation. The dissertation is an integral and formal part of the course. Your research project is the largest piece of work that you will complete during the course and contributes 60 credits (34%) of your final marks. You should find this to be both stimulating and of particular importance for your future career since it will provide you with the opportunity to analyse a system in some depth and perform a coherent investigation allowing you to further develop your skills amongst others, in survey design, problem solving and the analysis and interpretation of data. The choice of research topic is up to you, but it normally relates to one or more of the core or optional modules, or the research interests of one of the Masters teaching staff. The topic will be selected after consultation between the student, the Course Director and relevant academic staff. The dissertation may be a positional paper, a review or a survey-based field investigation, but it must be trans-disciplinary. The dissertation may involve primary data collection in the field; it may alternatively involve data collection from sources available on the internet, or in archives, files or unpublished reports. You may use statistical or project databases, many of which are either publicly available via the internet. For example, the UK Data Archive based at Essex houses several thousand datasets.

The choice of your dissertation project is your responsibility. This is a major element of your postgraduate study. It is important that you choose an area you are happy to work in, and in which you are confident of your abilities. However, there are no hard and fast criteria for choosing a project. Ideally, we would like you to come up with the basic idea, though it is likely to be modified after discussion with a member of staff. You should consider all of the modules that you have taken so far, and identify the modules and the specific parts of the modules that you found to be the most interesting. This should give you some ideas about likely subject areas

It is expected that the best of dissertations will be of publication quality, and all should show originality in and/or competent and creative scholarship.

The weighting of the project means that it is vital that you perform well in this aspect of your studies and that you are diligent in your reading, practical work and the preparation of your report.

Learning Outcomes:
To pass this module students will need to be able to:
1. demonstrate a theoretical and/or applied knowledge of cutting edge approaches to the intersection between nature and society, cultural, political, and economic issues;
2. demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental concepts of environmental science (irrespective of disciplinary background), and be able to integrate cross-disciplinary analyses of environmental problems;
3. demonstrate skills in the critical evaluation of relevant literature;
4. have developed a key range of skills including information acquisition from web-based and library sources, self-learning, writing of a literature review.

Learning and Teaching Methods

20 week project


100 per cent Coursework Mark (Dissertation)


Project proposal (10%), Project report (90%)

Further information