Environmental Engineering Research Dissertation

Module aims

The aim of the Research Dissertation is to undertake a specific piece of independent research in the form of a critical review, a laboratory- or field-based experimental investigation, or a modelling/numerical analysis project.

Learning outcomes

The Research Dissertation provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate: 

  • A unique contribution to an area of research interest.
  • Originality/creativity, critical analysis, investigation and understanding.
  • Effective communication, writing and presentation skills.
  • Skills in project and time management as well as management of expectations in delivery.
  • Ability to defend research outputs through a poster presentation.

Furthermore the Research Dissertation provides students with additional skills in technical writing through the preparation of a scientific Research Paper, which could form the basis of a manuscript for submission for peer-reviewed publication, and places candidates in a highly marketable position in terms of recruitment and career progression. 

Module syllabus

Students will be required to work full-time on their Research Dissertation commencing in the summer term immediately following completion of the MSc examinations through to the end of August (a date to be advised). Students may either propose their own topic for research or choose from a list of topics provided by staff. Research projects will differ in their area of focus, but their role is to challenge the student to complete an independent piece of research under the direct supervision of a member of academic staff and may involve supervision from external parties.As part of the Induction programme for the Individual Research Project students will receive training in (i) Health and Safety and Risk Assessment, and (ii) Research Information Skills including:

  • Interpretation of the literature.
  • Database searching.
  • Referencing.
  • Practical tools for database strategy and refworks.
  • Use of Turnitin.
The output from the research is in two forms:

(i) A Research Paper: which is limited to 12,000 words maximum should be written in English, in 12point font, 1.5 line spacing and margins should be 25mm. NOTE: 12,000 words includes abstract, text and captions to figures and tables and NOT references, appendices.

The Research Paper should include an abstract, evidence of a literature review setting the context of the research, a clear statement of aims and objectives, and the methodology applied, results and discussion, conclusions and recommendations, and references. Appendices may be used to contain additional supplementary information. The use of figures (graphical images, photographs and other forms of illustration) and tables in presentation of the research is encouraged as these can convey the context of a message visually and provide a relief from large amounts of heavy text, and, at the same time, do not contribute to the word count. Common sense should be applied in terms of achieving the appropriate balance of text vs other forms of presentation. Students are advised to discuss the detail and nature of the format of their dissertation with their supervisor.

(ii) A Poster presentation: which describes the project and the research findings in a visual and graphical manner and will be viewed by members of staff, industry sponsors and the External Examiner, at a Poster event on the day  before  the  Board  of  Examiners  Meeting  in  September  of  the  year  of  submission. Details of poster presentations will be provided separately.


Completion of taught programme (full-time students).

Teaching methods

The module will be delivered through a suite of introductory lectures on research methods and related material of importance to undertaking a research project, with students spending the remainder of the time working independently on their projects to meet the research aims and objectives (under staff supervision, with possible support from PDRA and PhD researchers). Where appropriate, students will be trained in experimental methods, use of analytical techniques, specialist software and computational tools. 


The Research Dissertation is assessed by a minimum of two members of staff, and marked against a set of criteria based around the definition of the research problem, evidence of application, initiative and effort, originality, analysis and discussion of results, and clarity of presentation.