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Module DDL-4999:
MSc Dissertation

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

60 Credits or 30 ECTS Credits

Organiser: Mrs Bid Webb

Overall aims and purpose

  1. For students to individually plan and execute a scientific research project relevant to the degree programme for which they are registered, including hypotheses formulation and testing.

  2. For students to individually communicate the introduction, aims, methods, results and conclusions of their scientific research project in a manner consistent with the prevailing School and Bangor University requirements.

Course content

Execution and written presentation of a suitable scientific project which is devised by the student and an individual academic supervisor and validated by the convenor and/or Programme Director. A suitable project entails a worthwhile scientific question, of direct relevance to the degree programme being undertaken, and established against the context of framework of current knowledge and concepts, that allows the formulation and testing of one or more hypotheses. This is expected to involve up to 12 months part-time work or 6 months full-time, broken down into appropriate tasks and allowing sufficient time for writing-up, including correction of the first draft after the comments of the supervisor are received.

  1. Students individually carry out a research project that they have planned, and agreed, in consultation with a designated academic supervisor. A dissertation 'Research Methods handbook' guides students step-by-step through the stages of preparing a draft research proposal and literature review. This includes recommended reading from key texts, study guides, live content and Panopto resources developed by Bangor staff relating to experimental design, etc, and formative assessments.

  2. The project can be any laboratory, field or desk-based study that is consistent with the degree programme being undertaken and which is validated by the supervisor and/or the Director of the programme.

  3. The designated academic supervisor will normally give constructive feedback as required to aid with the collection and analysis of data, interpretation of the results and preparation of the written dissertation (the latter by reading, and commenting on, a draft). Students may be provided with a list of possible dissertation topics; students may also suggest his / her own topic and this will be encouraged when appropriate, but in that case s/he must obtain the agreement of the module convenor that the topic proposed is appropriate at MSc level. Supervisors will guide students to develop an appropriate project. A full dissertation proposal ethics review and risk assessment must be submitted before work on the dissertation commences; they must be signed by the dissertation supervisor. The student is responsible for completing and presenting the dissertation, but can expect support and guidance from his / her supervisor on the planning of experimental / survey work, data collection, data analysis and writing of the dissertation. The supervisor will provide such support in response to direct requests from the student, who should therefore take the initiative and contact the supervisor as required. Students will be able to contact their supervisors by phone or email or Skype to seek guidance. In some cases joint visits to study sites will be necessary. There is a blackboard site containing a rich information resource that students can use to find information or request information, and which include a student mutual help facility.

Assessment Criteria


A dissertation that deals with a potentially difficult topic on which relatively little work has been done. An introduction that shows originality in the choice of topic, states the objectives of the study and the hypotheses to be tested in it. A literature review showing excellent understanding and knowledge of the chosen topic. A clear description of the methods used to collect and analyse data / information. Clearly presented results. A discussion that shows understanding, much original thought, and makes imaginative suggestions about the possible applications of the findings and further areas of research. Excellent presentation: well written; tables and figures correctly numbered and labelled; a comprehensive set of references.


The project will conform to the School and Bangor University requirements and will demonstrate that the student has an adequate knowledge of the area of study and of how their project fits within this field of study. Hypotheses should be formulated and an adequate, documented, attempt made to obtain data to test them. The objectives, a summary of current knowledge, methods adopted, results and discussion should all be adequately presented.


A dissertation that adds original information to an existing body of work. An introduction that states the objectives of the study and the hypotheses to be tested in it. A literature review that covers the fundamentals of the chosen topic. A clear description of the methods used to collect and analyse data / information. Clearly presented results. A discussion that shows understanding of the results and puts them into context. Satisfactory presentation: tables and figures correctly numbered and labelled; a complete set of references.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the ability to execute a scientific research project including formulation and testing of appropriate hypotheses.

  2. Collate and evaluate a variety of information directly relevant to the subject being researched.

  3. Communicate in writing, according to a defined format, the introduction, aims, methods, results and conclusions of the scientific research project.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
DISSERTATION Supervisors comments

Supervisors grade students on 2 criteria; Originality of thought and use of time and resources.

DISSERTATION MSc Dissertation 80
DISSERTATION Dissertation proposal

The proposal is a detailed research plan describing why the research is necessary, how and where it will be carried out and by when.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Individual Project

Online lectures and preparation activities

Individual Project

Email / phone / skype tutorials with supervisor

Individual Project

Private study

Individual Project

Data collection


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.
  • Recognize the moral, ethical and social issues relating to the subject.
  • Collect and record data generated by a diverse range of methods.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation


Courses including this module