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Unit information: MSc Literature review with report and presentation in 2018/19

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Unit name MSc Literature review with report and presentation
Unit code GEOGM0008
Credit points 40
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Jo House
Open unit status Not open



GEOGM0009 Climate Change MSc Research Project

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


The two key aims of this unit are

  • To provide supported learning to develop the skills of researching an area of science, reviewing, interpreting, critical analysis, synthesising, across a range of sources, and presenting clearly and succinctly in a range of formats suitable for different audiences: a scientific literature review in a journal format; a policy briefing; and an oral presentation.
  • To be able to coherently formulate a research problem in the context of the current state of scientific knowledge and related policy as the basis for the research dissertation.

It builds on the broad overview provided in the lecture-based component of the MSc programme and develops written and oral transferable skills that will be necessary to complete the dissertation project, and are attractive to prospective employers.

The topic is chosen by the student and will be aligned with the subsequent dissertation research projects, with support from the same supervisor throughout this unit and the dissertation project where possible. This is an independent piece of research, with guided supervision and group training workshops and opportunities for Q&A and peer-to-peer feedback.

The specific focus will vary with topic, while it will primarily involve literature research, review and interpretation, it could also include an element of computational exercises and laboratory training in preparation for the subsequent research project.

Intended learning outcomes

This unit aims to develop foundational competence in research and a suite of highly transferable skills. On successful completion, students will:

  1. have developed skills to thoroughly research the background to a science topic in such a way as to elucidate the key steps in advancing our understanding of it;
  2. have skills and experience in producing a clear synthesis, review and critical analysis of a science topic, both on paper and in oral presentation;
  3. be able to identify key scientific information that is of relevance to policy or practice;
  4. be able to identify policies and practices for which scientific evidence is of relevance;
  5. have developed skills to synthesise and communicate scientific information and policy context in an effective and appropriate written manner to a non-scientific audience.
  6. be able to coherently formulate a research problem in the context of previous work;
  7. be able to plan a programme of enquiry that addresses research problems, choosing appropriate analytical or computational tools.

Teaching details

Supervision and feedback details:

Students will have access to their supervisors via office hours to develop their literature review/research topic. The amount of contact hours will depend on the nature of the project and the training required, but as a rough guide you can expect 5 hours of contact time.

The supervisor will discuss the proposed content, structure, results, scientific ideas and the formulation of your project topic, aims and objectives. There will be opportunities for peer-to-peer feedback of drafts and past exemplars in relation to marking criteria.

There will be workshop sessions on writing a policy briefing, including opportunities for peer-to-peer feedback of drafts and past exemplars in relation to marking criteria.

Additional workshop and training sessions will be arranged as needed.

Students are encouraged to maintain a personal learning portfolio (similar to a lab or field notebook, but reflecting the diversity of knowledge and approaches this requires).

Assessment Details

The literature review is assessed in three components:

  1. Literature review, maximum length 15 pages (65% of the unit mark) [ILOs 1, 2, 6, 7]
  2. Policy Briefing, 4 pages (25% of the unit mark) [ILOs 1, 3, 4, 5]
  3. Individual oral presentation, 10-15 minutes (10% of the unit mark) [ILOs 1, 2, 6, 7]

Reading and References

Specific to the project, and to be discussed with the project supervisor and unit co-ordinator during the project.