Module code: ENG3211

Module Overview

The Dissertation module provides students with an opportunity to explore a key aspect of sustainable development in depth. By applying the knowledge, skills and expertise developed in their degree in modules such as Understanding sustainability - Methods, tools and skills 1 , Understanding sustainability - Methods, tools and skills 2 and Remote sensing and GIS, students undertake original research to answer a research question or prove a hypothesis. The research process typically involves the review of the relevant literature, developing a research methodology, data collection (or acquisition of an existing data set), data analysis and reflection. Students are encouraged to apply interdisciplinary approaches in their research, thus crossing the boundaries between disciplines to address a problem which can be better understood by applying combining research approaches from more than one discipline.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader

CHENOWETH Jonathan (Sust & CEE)

Number of Credits: 45

ECTS Credits: 22.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 6

Independent Learning Hours: 417

Lecture Hours: 6

Tutorial Hours: 15

Captured Content: 6

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

The dissertation gives students an opportunity to undertake an extended piece of research and to develop their knowledge and expertise in a specific area of sustainability. Dissertations vary according to individual interests but typically include empirical research, whereby the student conducts primary research using methods such as interviews and questionnaires or secondary research by analysing a pre-existing data set. Doing an extended piece of research is a challenging task which requires students to draw upon all the knowledge and skills developed previously in their degree while also thinking creatively as they address the challenges posed by their research question.

Students are assigned a dissertation supervisor and are expected to engage with their supervisor in a constructive way to receive feedback throughout the two semesters. The role of the supervisor is to provide guidance to the student on the development of the research and the writing up of research results. The student remains in charge of the research project and to get the most out of the supervisory meetings must come well prepared to meetings having completed the tasks discussed and agreed with their supervisor at the previous meeting.

A series of lectures and workshops will be provided to help students develop their research and academic writing skills as appropriate for progressing their dissertation. These will cover issues such as undertaking a literature review, the ethical assessments of planned research activities and how to use referencing software.

The final dissertation which students submit is a significant document which can demonstrate to future employers a student¿s data collection, analysis, information synthesis and writing skills. Since dissertations are student-led, they also demonstrate a student's ability to work diligently and independently while being supported by their dissertation supervisor.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Project (Group/Individual/Dissertation) Dissertation report of 10,000 words 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to formulate a research question, relate this to relevant literature, design and execute a small piece of empirical research and write up research findings. When doing their dissertation students are expected to employ extensive critical thinking, develop a consistent set of arguments over a sustained piece of writing, and making clear recommendations,

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • A dissertation report of 10,000 words usually comprising an introduction, literature review, methodology, analysis and discussion and conclusions.

Formative assessment and feedback:

Students submit a short topic outline by the start of week 3, after which dissertation supervisors will be matched to topics and supervisors allocated. A 2-3 page dissertation proposal is submitted to the supervisor in week 5 so that the supervisor can provide feedback on the viability and ethics of the project and early suggestions for improvements. Students are strongly encouraged to meet regularly with their dissertation supervisor who will provide oral and written feedback on the literature review, the research methodology development, research ethics, the analysis of results, and draft dissertation chapters. A series of workshops will be held which will provide a forum for students to discuss common issues with peers and receive general guidance from academic staff. The dissertation module coordinator is also available for one-to-one meetings with any student who wishes to discuss any aspects of the dissertation process although normally a student would discuss any issue with their dissertation supervisor in the first instance.

Module aims

  • provide students with experience of undertaking individual research.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Formulate a clear research question and design an appropriate methodology for a small piece of research CKP
002 Critically review academic literature relevant to the research question CK
003 Identify or collect relevant data KPT
004 Undertake appropriate analysis and identify findings CK
005 Develop conclusions and recommendations through relating findings to existing research and/or theory CKP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Develop students' ability to undertake original research. The bulk of the module involves students working independently to design and carryout research on a topic of their own choice.

Original research aims to produce new knowledge by answering a research question for which the answer was not previously known. Usually this is through the collection and analysis of new data although it can also include the reanalysis of an existing dataset or the synthesis of previous research to answer an original research question.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures and captured content

  • Individual one-on-one meetings with a dissertation supervisor

  • Workshops to discuss issues related to research with lecturers and peers

  • Independent research

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENG3211

Other information

The Centre for Environment and Sustainability is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience, in line with the Surrey Curriculum Framework. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas: Sustainability: Dissertations should be focused on investigating a problem or issue related to sustainable development. By focusing on a specific sustainability related problem, students can develop their in-depth knowledge of this problem, deepening their understanding of a key aspect of sustainable development. Resourcefulness and resilience: Dissertation research allows students to demonstrate the ability to respond to problem-based task requirements, addressing challenges or set-backs through agile thinking and decision-making processes to achieve positive outcomes. Completing a dissertation requires students to develop their resourcefulness as they navigate the challenges of doing research, and also develop their resilience as they overcome setbacks in the research process to produce a high quality and in-depth research project report. Employability: This module develops students ability to work independently and conduct a detailed and in-depth piece of research. The ability to work independently and apply a range of analytical techniques in depth to a sustainability-related challenge or problem are key skills which are sought be employers. In this module students learn how to present research results via the writing of their research project report under the supervision of an academic who is an experienced researcher. The ability to present research results in a well-structured concise report is also a key skill sought by employers.

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.