The course is intended for students who have a substantial background in geography or a related discipline with a good first degree. It aims to provide: (i) broad-based training in geographical research, its philosophical backgrounds and debates, and interpretation of geographical literature, (ii) comprehensive training in research methods in human geography and the social sciences as a whole, and (iii) the opportunity to develop large scale research management skills by completing a research thesis under academic supervision and guidance. Students choose two geography modules, which are combined with two modules in research design and methods, and a thesis. The course aims to develop general transferable skills for research employment in a wide range of walks of life, or as the first stage of a PhD thesis.
The course is intended to give students a broad-based advanced training and critical awareness of geographical research and its methods, including awareness of the research methods of related disciplines. The course is offered to all students hoping to undertake a PhD in Human Geography. Hence the thesis often forms a ‘pilot’ for a larger scale PhD proposal and will include a review of the relevant literature, research questions, an outline and evaluation of appropriate research methods, and an assessment of the initial findings and their significance.
The course aims to develop further the students’ understanding of the relationship between society, nature and space, emphasising both global and local processes and connections. They develop further their skills of assessing the merits of contrasting theories, explanations and policies; collecting and critically judging, evaluating and interpreting varied forms of evidence; preparing maps and diagrams; employing various methods of collecting and analysing spatial and environmental information; combining and interpreting different types of evidence to tackle specific problems; recognising the ethical and moral dimensions of study.
At the end of the 11 months, students taking the MPhil in Geographic Research will be expected to have:
- Acquired a broad knowledge of qualitative research methods and general statistics - Acquired the skills to use library and internet resources independently - Acquired specialist knowledge of the relevant literature related to their thesis - Acquired skills to independently structure their research design - Given a presentation on their thesis to their peers and academic staff - Written three essays and one thesis
Each student is allocated a thesis supervisor before the course begins. Generally up to 10 meetings of up to one hour of one-to-one supervision as well as briefer meetings when needed.
The Department runs a series of seminars during term which students on this course should attend. This introduces them to the breadth of the discipline and a new level of academic debate. Students may attend other lectures, seminars, classes and reading groups after consultation with their supervisors. Students attend Research Methods classes and lectures in the first and second term. Students are also expected to take part in their research group’s activities.
Skills and research training programme = 8 x 1 hour lectures in first term and optional lectures in the 2nd term. hours per term
Social Science Research Methods Centre (SSRMC) courses: workshops and practicals. Approx. 15 hours per term hours per term
Dissertation presentation in 3rd term.
Written feedback on each submitted essay and the dissertation.
- 20,000 word dissertation; oral examination at discretion of examiners - 3 essays or other exercises of up to 4,000 words