Independent Research Project

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Claire Mercer STC.418

Other teachers responsible: Student's Academic Adviser in the Department of Geography and Environment


This course is compulsory on the BA in Geography. This course is available on the BSc in Environment and Development, BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics and BSc in Geography with Economics. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

For students required to, or choosing to, submit an independent research project ('IRP') as part of a Bachelor's degree within the programmes' listed above.


GY2A0 or GY240 Geographical Research Techniques (Spatial, Social and Environmental) are a pre-requisite.

Course content

Students plan their own independent research project from start to finish on a geography topic of their choice. Carrying out the project generally includes reviewing the literature in their chosen topic area, formulating a viable and geography-relevant research question, analysing primary or secondary evidence or other material appropriate to the investigation (often a case study, data set, archival source, fieldwork observation, survey results or interviews, but also other material), and drafting the findings from their investigation into a final, polished submission. Students are expected to deal with the many procedural and analytical decisions that arise in independent research themselves, with guidance from Academic Advisers and others.


4 hours of lectures in the MT. 2 hours of classes in the LT.

In the course of conducting their independent research students can draw on various forms of teaching support. A workshop on conducting the IRP will be held early in MT. Students regularly report on their research progress to their Academic Advisers during regular meetings in MT and LT. Students are also assigned a PhD student in the Department who is familiar with their general research topic. Students have the option to arrange further supervision with their PhD Adviser on an individual basis. Students will also present their research in progress to their peers and their Academic Advisor early in Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students are required to produce an extended proposal which they must submit during the MT. They will be expected to report regularly to their Academic Adviser on the progress they are making on their independent research project, at least during regular termly Advisee meetings, if not more frequently. Students may also choose to arrange additional oversight and update arrangements with either their Academic Adviser or PhD Adviser.

Students are also expected to deliver a presentation of their dissertation project in a workshop during the LT.


Research project (100%) in the LT.

IRPs should not exceed 10,000 words, exclusive of appendices and other supportive material. Appendices may be used for supporting documentation and evidence, but not for discussion and analysis. One bound copy of the IRP must be submitted to the Undergraduate Office in S406 by the published deadline, and by the same deadline an electronic copy must be submitted on Moodle.

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
First 44
2:1 41.7
2:2 10.7
Third 1.2
Fail 2.4

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2015/16: 41

Average class size 2015/16: 7

Capped 2015/16: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills