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Dissertation with Placement - ENV00110M

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  • Department: Environment and Geography
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Samarthia Thankappan
  • Credit value: 60 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24
  • Notes: This is an independent study module

Module summary

This module runs alongside the standard ESM, EEM, SBES & CSEM dissertation, but permits students to work with an external partner as part of the module. This would typically involve collecting and analysing data to be used in their dissertation in collaboration with the partner institute. It is expected that a close relationship with the external partner will be maintained throughout the period of the dissertation. The student will also have a Department of Environment and Geography-based supervisor. Students choose to take either the MSc Dissertation module or the MSc Dissertation with Placement module.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module provides students with the opportunity to undertake an in-depth individual research project in an area of interest within their field of study. Moreover, the module provides valuable vocational experience as the student works collaboratively with an external partner. The module aims to develop in students a range of academic and graduate skills including problem analysis and task prioritisation, time management, working independently, the effective written reporting of research and the effective verbal presentation/communication of research, people skills, working with stakeholders/external partners, the critical evaluation of data (e.g. economic and scientific data), data analysis and data collection.

Module learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students will be able to:

Apply skills acquired from taught modules to the identification and solution of problems in a field relevant to their degree, e.g. environmental science/ environmental management/ environmental economics/ corporate sustainability
Design, conduct and report the results of an independent research project that satisfies the normal professional standards and/or expectations of their discipline and which they have developed collaboratively with an external partner
Demonstrate skills in effective written communication, the critical evaluation of data, the identification and/or collection of data and data analysis.

Module content

Supporting students in obtaining placements

1. Students will be made aware of the opportunity to undertake this module at the start of the academic year, with a view to investigating placement possibilities as soon as possible. We will make clear the intended outcomes of a placement, how the placement will be assessed and students’ rights and responsibilities during placement, including the complaints process.

2. Students would be expected to find placements themselves, but in reality, many of the placements will arise through contacts with staff in the Department. The Module Coordinator and Industry Liaison Officer, will also make the students aware of relevant opportunities. If students are unable to find a suitable placement, they will need to undertake the alternative MSc Dissertation module that does not include a placement.

3. In the event that two students wish to do the same placement, they will be interviewed by the course convenor and the host, to assess who has the most relevant skills.

4. Before starting the placement, students will be provided with some guidance on what to expect; workplace culture and environment; practical issues such as those around travel and insurance; and (in the case of overseas placements) advice that students should familiarise themselves with UK Government travel advice for that country (as relevant) and to be aware that the host country will have different customs and laws.

Supporting students on placement

1. Each student will be assigned a York supervisor during their external placement. The York supervisor will provide pastoral support if required and also check dissertation drafts. The Department of Environment and Geography will be responsible for assessment of the dissertation and presentation.

2. Before starting the placement, the York supervisor and the student will agree on how/when to communicate regularly. The attendance monitoring of Tier 4 students will need extra consideration. The York supervisor will remind the student of the range of support services available at York and also, remind their host to make students aware of local services in the vicinity of their placement.

3. Each placement provider will be scrutinised and approved before a student can accept a placement. We will use the same methods that are applied to our Placement providers. In particular, we will check:

  • that the learning outcomes of the module can be achieved through the placement opportunity

  • the placement provider can provide the resources (human and material) to operate the placement successfully

  • the professional capacity of the placement provider can successfully deliver their function(s) during the placement (e.g. ability to supervise/mentor), and how the provider will be supported in these functions by the department

  • health and safety measures are adequate, including the ability of the placement provider to provide an appropriate working environment for students

  • insurance is in place that covers the student while on placement

  • the range of business and ethical interests and links the placement provider may have, and whether these could represent potential risks to the placement or the University’s reputation

  • if the nature of the placement would require a Disclosure and Barring check and, if so, arrangements around this.

Further, we will consider the additional risks involved with international placements should they arise and only permit those that we are confident meet the necessary standards and that we are able to be in communication with the student at all times.

Ethics approval must be sought and agreed prior to going on placement.

No student can undertake a placement without these checks having taken place.

4. Each placement provider and student will be made aware of their responsibilities during the placement.

5. The success (or otherwise) of placements will be monitored to make sure the provider is suitable. Placements will be monitored via the University’s regular quality assurance mechanisms (Annual Programme Review and Periodic Review).

6. The Department of Environment and Geography will keep clear records relating to placements, providing an easily accessible record of all placement providers used.

Supporting disabled students on placement

1. Given the placement opportunities will be similar to those that could be carried out in the Department albeit in a different setting, we would expect that our disabled students would also be able to undertake a wide range of placement opportunities.

2. We will initiate discussion early on with such students regarding arrangements and support during a placement opportunity.

3. We will encourage students to disclose disabilities to the placement provider to permit the latter to provide support, make reasonable adjustments and arrange access where necessary.

4. In a case where a student wishes not to disclose, but we feel a student’s disability may present a risk to the student or others in a placement setting (e.g. working with chemicals and/or equipment that raises health and safety issues), we may need to consider not allowing that placement to go ahead.

Despite these measures, placements will sometimes go wrong. In these cases, the student would transfer back onto the standard dissertation module for their programme and complete a dissertation in the Department or Environment of Geography. The usual rules that apply to students with extenuating circumstances will also apply here. However, should a period of absence mean that the student is unable to complete their placement opportunity, they will revert to the standard dissertation module for their programme with extensions (etc) as necessary.

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback on summative assessment is provided in accordance with department guidelines. Ongoing feedback from the dissertation supervisor during the module. Written/verbal feedback on the formative research proposal.

Indicative reading

Greetham, B.. (2014) How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation. Palgrave Macmillan

Furseth, I. and Everett, E. L. (2013). Doing Your Masters Dissertation : From Start to Finish, SAGE Publications.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.