The MA in Geography (Research Methods) - or MARM - aims to give a broad training in social science research methodology as well as more specific training in the approaches and techniques used in human geography. There is a balance between theory and practical application. The degree programme includes skills training and reflection on personal experience, and those students who are going on to MPhil/PhD work are encouraged to relate what they learn to their future research. Most of the teaching is in small groups and emphasises student engagement and discussion. The MARM is an ESRC recognised Masters training course and all modules are designed and delivered in line within the ESRC's requirements. All modules include formative and summative assessment. The teaching programme is delivered in Terms 1 and 2. From Easter onwards students work on their dissertation with the support of an allocated supervisor.
The MARM is composed of six core (compulsory) modules and a choice from three optional modules. The core modules total 150 credits and, in addition, students take 30 credits from the optional modules adding up to a total of 180 credits. The course is delivered by the Department of Geography, the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Psychology and the School of Applied Social Sciences (SASS).
Optional Modules available in previous years include:
Despite the phenomenal technological progress of the 20th century, most people still live with the acute and chronic consequences of age-old hazards such as floods and earthquakes. This MSc is aimed at students interested in engaging with the natural and social dimensions of environmental hazards, including disasters and climate related risk. Students receive specialised scientific training in the physical hazards that pose large risks to communities living throughout the world, from climate change and meteorological risks to flooding, earthquakes and landslides. Students on this programme will receive theoretical and practical training for understanding and quantifying risks and hazards. They will learn about how hazards persist over long periods of time instead of merely as single events, but are composed of many smaller sub-events or how their effects are widespread.
Students take the following core modules, and a selection of elective modules, which, when combined, add up to 180 credits:
Elective Modules available in previous years include:
Understanding and managing risk is ultimately about choice. All elements of society, from individuals to governments, must make decisions – conscious or not – about the ways in which they perceive, interpret, balance, and mitigate risk. Risk permeates our day-to-day lives in ways that are now recognised to be much more complex than the hazard-vulnerability paradigm, which dominated risk research until the 1990s, recognised. A deeper understanding of the nature of risk, its emergence, and its interface and position within societies, has emphasised the need to take a much more complex view in which a general understanding of the ways in which risk is generated, experienced and managed needs to be combined with a specific understanding of particular science or policy areas.
The primary aim of this Masters programme is to equip students with a general understanding of risk, whilst simultaneously providing specific training in elements of risk-related research. The MSc supports students in developing a strong social science perspective on risk. This will be achieved through an interdisciplinary framework for understanding risk from a variety of perspectives. Students will learn theoretical and practical approaches to identifying and framing risk, as well as the underlying physical and social mechanisms that generate it. They will also examine the relationship of risk to knowledge and policy, and will be made aware of the array of advanced tools and techniques to assess the physical and social dimensions of risk under conditions of uncertainty. They will also be trained in the substance and methods associated with a range of science and policy areas, and be expected to demonstrate that they can combine their general training in risk with their specific understanding of the substance and method associated with the chosen area, through either a research-based or a vocational dissertation.
All students will undertake a suite of core modules (120 credits) which provide students with a range of skills and knowledge which result in a unique focus in risk combined with training in interdisciplinary research methods. These modules are Understanding Risk, Risk, Science and Communication, Risk Frontiers and the Dissertation.
Students then also select a suite of elective modules (another 60 credits). Students can choose to receive specialised scientific training in:
Electives can be selected from: Hydrological Hazards, Spatial Temporal Dimensions of Hazards, Social Dimensions of Risk and Resilience.
The Risk Masters (both in its MA and MSc forms) is taught jointly between Durham University’s Geography Department, the School of Government & International Affairs, and the School of Applied Social Sciences. The programme’s interdisciplinary approach encourages students to combine science and social science perspectives. Students have a broad range of modules to choose from, and in this way develop an individualized set of professional skills that, depending on the student’s preferences, speak more to either the natural sciences (e.g. via scientific modelling, GIS or science and communication) or the social sciences (e.g. via social science research methodologies and engagements with social policy and international relations). The programme is delivered in close collaboration with Durham University’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR), and through IHRR’s activities students get permanent exposure to both practitioner and academic perspectives at the forefront of risk thinking and practice.