This course will provide you with the opportunity to carry out an independent research project under the supervision of our leading academics.
You will receive training in research methods and take a taught course unit in a relevant subject area. The research topic for your project is agreed with a supervisor in advance and can be in any area of the expertise in the department research groups. The project outline will be developed in consultation with your supervisor and project work is carried out in parallel with the taught courses, becoming full-time during the third term.
This Master’s by Research will provide you with a suitable background to work as a research assistant or as the grounding for further study towards a PhD.
- This course is ideal for graduates in geology and related sciences who wish to carry out independent research over a shorter time period than is possible in a doctorate (PhD) programme. It allows you study at Master's level an aspect of the geological sciences which may not be catered for by specialist MSc programmes.
- You will be involved at every step of the research project - from planning and sample collection, laboratory work, result analysis, to writing your dissertation.
- It is ideal preparation if you are interested in studying for a PhD, but would like to have further preparation and training.
- In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), the Department of Earth Science’s research was ranked equal 6th in the UK with 70% rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
- The Department has up-to-date computer interpretation facilities, a full range of modern geochemical laboratories including XRF, quadrupole and multicollector ICP Mass Spectrometry, atmospheric chemistry and a new excimer laser ablation facility, excellent structural modelling laboratories, palaeontology and sedimentology laboratories.
Course content and structure
The course consists of the following three components:
A Research Study Skills Course Unit - Personal research skills (e.g. safety, time and project management, teamwork) - IT skills (e.g. literature retrieval, web authoring, databases, modelling) - Data analysis skills (e.g. statistical methods, GIS systems, sampling techniques) - Communication skills (e.g. posters, oral presentation, writing papers, web pages) - Subject-specific skills and techniques. These amount to 55% of the research skills assessment, and for example may include parts of specialist taught courses (see below), a training course on the theory and practice of chemical and isotopic analysis, or other training arranged by the project supervisor. This will include training for research in the general field of the research project, not solely what is needed to carry out the project.
A Specialist Taught Course Unit You will choose an advanced taught course unit relevant to the subject area of your research project. The following taught units are currently offered: - Applied Sedimentology and Stratigraphy - Pollution Sources and Pathways - Oceans and Atmospheres - Risk and Environmental Management - Geographical Information Systems - Environmental Inorganic Analysis - Contaminants in the Environment - Advanced Igneous Petrogenesis - Seismic Processing and Interpretation - Geodynamics and Plate Tectonics - Interpretation of Structural Settings - Coal Geology - Petroleum Geology and Evaluation - Terrestrial Palaeoecology - Palaeoclimates
Research Project The project may be on any topic which is within the broad research themes of the Department. You will be linked to a potential supervisor at the application stage and, in consultation with the supervisor, you will develop a detailed project outline during the first half of the first term. Project work is then carried out in parallel with taught courses during terms one and two, becoming the full-time activity after Easter. A bound dissertation is submitted for examination in early September.
On completion of the course graduates will have:
- an advanced knowledge and understanding of a variety of analytical, technical, numerical, modelling and interpretive techniques applicable to the specific field of earth sciences
- the articulation of knowledge and the understanding of published work, concepts and theories in the chosen field of earth sciences at an advanced level
- the acquisition of knowledge from published work in the chosen area of earth sciences to a level appropriate for a MSc degree.
Research Study Skills: this is assessed by coursework and theory examination and will include short written assignments, a seminar, worksheets and practical tests. These assessments contribute 12.5% of the course marks.
Specialist Taught Course Units: these are mostly assessed by a written, theory examination and coursework. The unit assessment contributes 12.5% of the course marks.
Research Project: the project dissertation must be submitted in early September. It will be marked by both an internal and an external examiner, and will be defended at an oral examination with both examiners. The project assessment contributes 75% of the course marks.
Employability & career opportunities
Subject to agreement and suitable funding, MSc by Research students can transfer to the MPhil/PhD programme at Royal Holloway. They may use the research carried out for the MSc towards the PhD, and count the time spent towards MPhil/PhD registration requirements, provided that the MSc research forms a coherent part of the PhD, and that the transfer is approved prior to submission of the MSc research dissertation.
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