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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Dissertation in Geology and Physical Geography (EASC10043)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
Course typeDissertation AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThe main aim of the dissertation is to train students as scientists. Students will undertake an independent research project of their own design on a geology and/or physical geography topic. Students will collect and analyse primary data, develop professional level insight and interpretations, and present these in a comprehensive report.
Course description Course Description
The main aim of the dissertation is to train students as scientists.
During the dissertation, students will:
- develop and design their own research project;
- define a research question or a scientific hypothesis that they would like to test;
- search for literature and gather information on the topic that they are interested in;
- define a strategy for data collection and analysis;
- collect and analyse original data rigorously;
- think and work autonomously;
- stimulate scientific discussions with their supervisor; and
- communicate their findings via talks (which will be scheduled during the 4th year) and a final report which will be assessed.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs to be confirmed
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Lecture Hours 1, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 15, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 376 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment details
Written Exam 0%
Coursework 100%
Practical Exam 0%
Additional Information (Assessment)
Assessment details
Written Exam: 0%, Course Work: 100 %, Practical Exam: 0%.
The following will be assessed: Report of 9000 -10000 words (from the beginning of introduction to the end of conclusion, including figure captions, excluding title, abstract, Appendices and References) that explains the aim(s) of the project, reviews the background literature, describes the data collection and analysis methods, documents the analysis, summarises and interprets the results. The submitted work MUST include, in addition to the report, any document in which the data have been recorded (e.g., field or lab notebooks). Additional material may also include tables containing the data, maps, animations, logs and/or sections that are relevant as supporting material for the project (this material can be added as an appendix at the end of the report, as separate electronic files, on paper and/or on a USB stick).
The following points will be considered for marking: (1) 40% Data collection, evidence for use of original data; data compilation method(s) and analysis method(s) used in the project. (2) 40% Written report; assessed for originality of idea/approach, formulation of testable hypotheses, review of background literature, explanation of methodologies, analysis and interpretation of results and scientific content. (3) 20% Production quality.
A marking scheme can be found on Learn, which gives an idea about what is typically found in a dissertation that obtains a 1st, a 2.1, a 2.2 etc.

Assessment deadlines
The dissertation is due in Semester 2 on the Wednesday of week 5 by 12 noon.
Submission details will be provided prior to the deadline.
Feedback Feedback is provided in the following ways:
3rd-year students will receive feedback on their proposals: peer review interviews in February. In addition, their advisors will give a mark and provide detailed feedback on their research proposal to be submitted in mid-March.
4th-year students will receive feedback on their dissertation work, both oral and written:
a) workshop in October (4-minute oral presentation);
b) GPG dissertation conference near the end of Semester 1 (10-minute oral presentation attended by all third and fourth year GPG students);
c) proof-reading of 1500 words from the dissertation by their advisor.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Complete a defined project of research which utilises skills, techniques and expertise encompassed within the School of GeoSciences.
  2. Critically identify and analyse complex problems which arise during their research and demonstrate some originality and creativity in dealing with professional-level issues.
  3. Review existing research of relevance
  4. Define a strategy for data collection and analysis
  5. Define a strategy for evaluating and interpreting the numerical data produced
Reading List
Kneale, P. (2011) "Study skills for Geography, Earth and Environmental Science students". Hodder Education. ISBN: 978-1444120967.
Walliman, N. (2004) "Your undergraduate dissertation". London: Sage. ISBN: 978-0761941408
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Ability to develop and design a research project.
Ability to formulate a research question or scientific hypothesis.
Ability to search for literature and gather information on a given topic.
Ability to define a strategy for data collection and analysis.
Ability to collect and analyse original data rigorously.
Ability to think and work autonomously.
Ability to stimulate scientific discussions.
Ability to communicate findings via talks and reports.
KeywordsDissertation,Geology,Physical Geography,Research,Project
Course organiserDr Andrew Hein
Tel: (0131 6)50 9140
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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