Geography MRes


Fact file

MRes Geography
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2:1 (or international equivalent)
Other requirements
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


The Geography MRes programme enables you to conduct in-depth research into a science, technological or social science focused aspect of geography.
Read full overview

This course is aimed at students who wish to focus primarily on achieving a research-based postgraduate masters level degree qualification. With close support and guidance from subject-specialist academics, students typically conduct in-depth research into a social science aspect of geography. It may be possible to upgrade an MRes to a PhD at the discretion of the school.

By undertaking this programme you will benefit from being part of a world leading, research-intensive school, spending time on a topic of your choice while enhancing your research skills and subject expertise.

Our culture of interdisciplinary study and knowledge transfer enables us to generate high-impact research that influences government public policy, private enterprise and third sector organisations.

Key facts

  • 75% of our research output was rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • We were rated 'excellent' in the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) assessment of teaching provision
  • We are ranked 39th worldwide for geography according to QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016

Course details

You are required to undertake at least 20 credits of generic research training. A further 40 taught credits may also be taken, with the balance consisting of a thesis, appropriately credit-weighted, according to maximum number of words permitted, supervised within the School of Geography.

Successful students will graduate with a Master of Research arts degree.



Optional examples

Advanced Geographical Research Tutorials

This module examines the presentation of cutting edge research within geography. Topics include:

  • Linking discrete research projects to wider contemporary debates in human and environmental geography
  • Analysing recent advances in human and environmental geography
  • Evaluating the role of seminars and research presentations in advancing geographical thought

This module aims to:

  • provide an understanding of cutting edge research developments in human and environmental geography and the role of research projects and associated seminars in the evolution of the field from a variety of perspectives
Advances in Remote Sensing

The anticipated content and structure for the module is: 

Part one - Principles and Systems:

  • Introduction: the past, present and the future
  • Electromagnetic radiation and the terrestrial environment
  • Interaction of radiation with matter
  • Sensing systems
  • Remote sensing scale and data selection issues
  • Using remote sensing data I, II and III

Part two - Information Extraction:

  • Exploiting advances in the spatial, spectral and temporal domain
  • Exploiting strengths of data: data fusion
  • Technological innovations 
  • Integrating remote sensing and GIS 
  • Practising remote sensing
  • Student led coursework assessment II

This module aims to:

  • provide an advanced study into the rapidly evolving field of remote sensing
Approaches to Landscape

This module provides an introduction to recent research on landscape, drawing on studies and materials from several disciplines. 

Areas of research considered include landscape in cultural geography, and landscape and the arts and humanities. The module considers historical and contemporary evidence under each of these headings and allows a critical assessment of both empirical research and underlying theory.

The assessment method is two 8-page essays.

Approaching Economic Geography

The module examines the theory of economic geography, past and present. Topics covered include:

  • the historical and theoretical development of economic geography
  • new economic spaces
  • contemporary approaches

The course introduces students to the work of leading thinkers within geography and beyond, and involves the detailed discussion and analysis of contemporary and historical writings.

This module aims to:

  • give an understanding of the theoretical basis of economic geography, showing how and why ideas have developed, and how these ideas have been applied in the analysis of particular subject matter
  • seek to understand the relationship of economic geography to other areas of geography, and to subjects across the social sciences
Contaminated Land Management Practice

The module will develop an understanding of the design of site investigation, use of generic assessment criteria and selection of feasible remediation options.

The module will build on knowledge acquired during the principles of contaminated land module and involve a series of practical sessions based on a real world site. Students will learn how to develop a conceptual model, develop site investigation objectives and select appropriate site investigation techniques, select and apply generic assessment criteria and finally determine which of the 30 or so generic remediation technologies would be feasible for the given site.

This module aims to:

  • provide students with an understanding of the design of site investigation, use of generic assessment criteria and selection of feasible remediation options and an appreciation of the role of a contaminated land management expert in interpreting site investigations, carrying out detailed quantitative risk assessment and implementing/verifying remediation projects
Critical Human Geography

The module introduces you to a range of philosophical approaches and current research themes within human geography. It enables you to integrate questions of theory and empirical research, each stage of the module stressing the philosophy underpinning the research under discussion, and the cultural and political contexts of the research.

Key thematic issues structure the module, including geographical understandings of culture and economy, and the geographies of nature. Each section of the module integrates historical and contemporary understanding, emphasising the distinctive contribution made by human geography in thinking spatially, while at the same time highlighting geography's relationship to the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. 

The assessment method is two 8-page essays.

The Cultural Geography of English Landscape

The module addresses issues of landscape and culture in England from the 18th century to the present day. Key themes throughout include landscape and national identity and relations of city and country. The module utilises sources including archives, literature, paintings, prints, poetry, maps, film and photography.

The first semester focuses on issues of landscape and Englishness since 1880. Topics covered include:

  • Tradition and modernism
  • Competing notions of heritage
  • The cultural politics of land
  • Questions of citizenship and the body

The second semester focuses on landscape of Georgian England. Topics covered include:

  • Parks and gardens
  • Colonial landscapes
  • Agriculture
  • Industry and science
  • Towns
  • Transport and travel 

This module aims to:

  • show how cultural geography can aid our understanding of landscape in general, and of English landscape, in particular
Dissertation: Environmental Management

This module will require students to research an environmental issue of their own choice under the supervision of an appropriate member of staff and to report their findings in the form of a written dissertation (12,000 words).

Key skills developed include those of independent study, critical analysis and report writing.

This module aims to:

  • allow students to make a detailed independent analysis of an environmental issue or problem of their choice and to report their findings in appropriate ways
  • encourage the analysis of an environmental issue from an inter-disciplinary perspective
Dissertation: Geographical Information Science

The module involves students undertaking an individual research project in the field of Geographical Information Science.

Students are required to identify a research question, set this within the academic context, develop a suitable methodology, execute the programme of work, evaluate the results, draw logical conclusions and present the project in the form of a dissertation.

This module aims to:

  • enable students to undertake an individual research project on an advanced and contemporary GIS topic
Dissertation: Human Geography

Building directly on the work undertaken in the Research Design module, this module requires the student to write a substantive research dissertation on a subject chosen following discussion with a nominated supervisor.

This module aims for students to:

  • devise and carry out a substantial piece of empirical research on an approved topic consistent with the requirements of a masters level degree
  • demonstrate an ability to undertake a substantial project based on empirical research informed by relevant theoretical literature
  • demonstrate a range of appropriate methodologies and research techniques
  • produce a clearly written, appropriately illustrated and properly references report
Dissertation: Landscape and Culture

This dissertation represents the culmination of the Landscape and Culture MA. Each student is required to submit a dissertation within 12 months of their initial registration.

The precise nature of the dissertation (the empirical content and theoretical perspectives) will obviously vary, but all dissertations must be a substantial research-based document on a specific topic that will have been discussed and approved by a nominated supervisor from within the teaching team on this course early in semester two. 

Meetings between students and supervisors will take place regularly from the beginning of semester two until the main period of research and data collection during the summer. A minimum of five supervisions will take place. Each student is also advised about the required format of the dissertation.

This module aims for students to:

  • devise and carry out a substantial piece of empirical research on an approved topic consistent with the requirements of a masters level degree
  • demonstrate an ability to undertake a substantial project based on empirical research informed by relevant theoretical literature
  • demonstrate a range of appropriate methodologies and research techniques
  • produce a clearly-written, appropriately illustrated and properly referenced report
Dissertation: MSci Natural Sciences Geography

The module involves students undertaking an individual research project in the field of physical geography, under the supervision of an appropriate member of staff.

Students are required to:

  • identify a research question
  • set this within the academic context
  • develop a suitable methodology
  • execute the programme of work
  • evaluate the results
  • draw logical conclusions
  • present the project in the form of a dissertation

This module aims to:

  • enable students to undertake a detailed independent analysis of an advanced and contemporary physical geography issue or problem
Environment, Development and Livelihoods

This module investigates key links between development, livelihood and environmental problems in the global South, with particular reference to competition and conflict over environmental resources.

Attention is placed on exploring livelihood-environment interactions from the perspectives of different income, gender and community groups and contrasting their everyday realities with key development concepts and aggregate statistics. The module contains a mixture of lecture-based sessions, seminar-based sessions and workshops involving role-play, practical exercises and data analysis.

This module aims to:

  • enhance understanding of the interactions between livelihoods and environmental issues in the global South from the perspectives of people from different income, gender and community groups
  • take a political ecology approach to highlight variations in livelihood security by gender, community, socio-economic status and dependence on natural resources
  • enhance understandings of how the 'messy realities' underlying key development concepts and aggregate statistics are experienced by different socio-economic, gender and community groups through participation in group-based role-play exercises
  • heighten appreciation of environment and livelihood interactions and how these are experienced by different socio-economic and gender groups in a range of geographical contexts
  • emphasise the diverse economic, socio-cultural linkages between environmental problems, livelihoods and development and foster an appreciation of the complexity of environmental issues at a range of scales and in different geographical contexts
Environmental Management in Practice

The module will introduce the student to a range of approaches to environmental management and their use in practice within Government and Non-Governmental agencies and the private sector. Approaches covered include:

  • tendering for projects in the context of environmental consultancy
  • environmental management practices
  • participatory approaches to environmental policy and planning

This module aims to:

  • introduce and evaluate a range of approaches available to the environmental manager and their practical application in the governmental, non-governmental and private sectors
Environmental Management Tutorial

This year-long module is split into two sections, Tutorial A in semester one and Tutorial B in semester two. This module is primarily skills based and provides opportunities for small group teaching and learning on core environmental management issues. It will provide an introduction to review and report writing and fieldwork skills and practical approaches to environmental management as well as research planning.

Tutorial A will cover the following:

  • Referencing and searching for literature
  • Reading and note-taking
  • Review writing skills
  • Approaches to group working
  • Presentation skills
  • Critical review of environmental paradigms

Tutorial B will cover the following: 

  • Writing a literature review paper
  • Philosophies of research design
  • Selecting an appropriate environmental management research topic and preparation of a dissertation proposal

This module aims to:

  • foster an awareness and appreciation of key concepts in Environmental Management, such as sustainability and environmental protected natural areas
  • encourages students to adopt interdisciplinary approaches to Environmental Management topics
  • help students to develop skills of synthesis and analysis
Environment, Space and Society

This content is split into a number of sections following an opening session which introduces the different ways in which human geography engages with environmental issues. Indicative content of the remaining sessions: environmental history, environmental knowledge and governance, environmental activism, economy and environment. These issues are also explored through a day field visit.

The assessment method is a 3-page report and 6-page essay.

Foundations of Environmental Management

The module provides a foundation for the scientific concepts and issues which underpin environmental management.

Topics covered include:

  • the structure and function of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
  • the importance and operation of the major biogeochemical cycles
  • the flow of energy through the earth-system

A day trip cost will be involved, full details of expected cost will be given nearer the date of the visit.

This module aims to:

  • provide an understanding of the physical, biological and chemical bases of environmental systems, with an emphasis on human interaction with these systems
Fundamentals of Geographical Information Science

The module considers:

  • geographical information systems and science
  • applications of GIS
  • the nature of geographic information
  • fundamentals of cartography
  • data capture
  • data quality
  • vector and object data models
  • raster data models
  • terrain analysis
  • visualisation 

This module aims to:

  • provide an introduction to the theories, tools, and techniques relevant to the capture, storage, analysis and visualisation of Geographic Information (GI) in digital form
Geospatial Information Services

The module considers:

  • web mapping
  • mashups and web 2.0 location-aware applications
  • the need for interoperability
  • the open geospatial consortium
  • standards for geospatial data
  • relational databases
  • spatial databases
  • open and linked data
  • GIS web services 

This module aims to:

  • provide an overview of the techniques for managing digital geographic information and offers an insight into the research frontier in standards, interoperability and geospatial intelligence
Geographical Research Methods

This module is split into three major sections:

  • Quantitative Methods: An introduction to parametric and non-parametric statistics and the use of databases and statistical packages.
  • Social Research Methods: An introduction to the philosophical and analytical issues that lie behind designing social research methods. A range of social research methods are considered in terms of their approach, design, implementation and analysis.
  • GIS: An introduction to the technologies of GIS. It covers the design and operation of these systems and how they are used as decision support tools. The material also covers the concept of modelling and what issues the user must be aware of in evaluating model outputs.

This module aims to:

  • offer an understanding of the issues and techniques surrounding the handling of quantitative and qualitative data in the social and environmental sciences
  • provide practical experience of key quantitative and qualitative techniques in geography
Geospatial Technologies: Mobile, Augmented and Virtual

The module focuses on the uptake of digital geographic information across a wide range of applications in society and the research agenda that is underpinning these developments. We will explore the use of location-aware mobile devices and techniques for geo-visualisation that are visually immersive and interactive.  

This module aims to:

  • give students an understanding of the way digital geographic information is being used in the public domain, in particular in connection with location-aware mobile devices and multi-dimensional geo-visualisation techniques
Geographical Information Science in Action

This module offers students the opportunity to develop individualised expertise in a chosen area that demonstrates how GIS is used in the real world. The student will identify an area of interest and will utilise cross disciplinary training, skills and knowledge utilising elements of modules drawn from the remainder of the MSc in GIS (and beyond if relevant).

Students are expected to have actively planned their own programme in conjunction with an academic adviser/personal tutor. Students intending to take the module must first explain their academic goals and describe the proposed focus of study.

This module aims to:

  • provide a thorough grounding in how GIS is used in its wider content, realising how the theory of GIS is transferred to the real world
  • allow students to choose an area of focus to them and build on their knowledge in an applied setting
Geographical Information Science Study Skills and Research Methods

The module covers:

Study Skills: Students are provided guidance on fundamental academic practices such as essay writing, oral and poster presentations, exam techniques and career preparation.

Quantitative Methods: This section gives students an introduction to parametric and non-parametric statistics and the use of databases and statistical packages.

Research Project Design: This section provides students the underpinning material for them to develop their research project.

This module aims to:

  • provide students with an understanding of basic academic study and research skills, and quantitative techniques and their application within the social and environmental sciences, via the development of a research project
  • provide students with the skills and competence needed to execute and present academic work, and select, apply and critically evaluate appropriate techniques to specific research questions or hypotheses
Principles of Contaminated Land Management

The module will develop a basic understanding of the site investigation, risk assessment and remediation of contaminated land.

The natural and industrial sources of contamination will be introduced, the UK and European legal drivers for contaminated land management will be reviewed.

This module aims to:

  • provide an understanding of the sources of contamination, the relevant legal regime, the investigation, risk assessment and remediation of contaminated land
Professional Geographical Information Science: Consultancy Project

This module involves students conducting group projects on GIS-related topics for a real-world client. There are three main objectives:

  • Students gain valuable experience of working on GIS projects in a real-world environment. That is, these projects are of genuine interest and relevance to the client, rather than being academic exercises. 
  • Students develop useful skills through working as part of a team. 
  • The client gains from useful feasibility studies. 

In essence, these projects are similar to short-duration, real-world consultancy projects. The taught part of the module is designed to help students focus on the conceptual, technical and managerial issues relating to the projects. Generally this module is student-led. 

Groups are expected to arrange their own meetings, manage the division of workload and ensure they are meeting the requirements of the client (but also exploring further possibilities that the client may not have considered).

This module aims to:

  • teach students to think and perform research independently
  • engage students in real group-based consulting activity with an outside client
Project Management and Environmental Legislation

This module will develop students' understanding of the principles of project management and land related environmental legislation. The lectures will focus on:

  • the management organisation of projects and the roles taken by individuals in the management structure
  • the management of change, quality and risk
  • time and resource management techniques
  • project selection strategies
  • project finance
  • evaluating the legal context of land contamination related liability

This module aims to:

  • develop students' understanding of the purpose of project management and the range of project management tools 
  • develop students' ability to plan projects
  • develop students' understanding of the UK and EU legal system, the main environmental legislation and the legislation dealing with land contamination
Quaternary Environments

This module considers the Quaternary evolution and settlement history of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. The focus of the course will be evolution of the present climate and environment of the lowland tropics and the interaction between the natural environment and human societies. The module is based on a residential field trip to the Yucatan and project work associated with this. The main elements are:

  • an overview of climate dynamics in the tropics, with particular emphasis on changes in the monsoon, the impact of sea level change and drivers of change from mid-latitudes
  • critical review of methods of environmental reconstruction and dating techniques
  • archives of change relevant to the study area, primarily lakes and cave systems
  • quaternary history of the Yucatan
  • Mesoamerican archaeology and cultural change in the Yucatan
  • exploration of the possible role of climate in driving societal change

This module aims to:

  • use the lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula to explore the relationship between climate, environment and society over the timescale of the Quaternary exploiting the region's unequalled archaeological record
Research Design A

The module takes the form of weekly seminars, in which the following core topics are covered:

  • Introduction to research design
  • Research ethics
  • Writing strategies
  • Research plans for dissertations
  • Positionality and reflexivity

This module aims to:

  • provide an introduction to research design skills within the discipline of geography
  • thoroughly prepare students for the dissertation
Research Design B

The module takes the form of weekly seminars in which the following topics are covered: 

  • Introduction to research design
  • 'Subjects' and research
  • Research methods
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Group project
  • Evaluating qualitative research
  • Writing strategies
  • Research plans for dissertations

Students write a report on their group project. They also write a full research plan, and make an individual presentation of this plan.

This module aims to:

  • provide an introduction to research design skills
  • provide students with a thorough grounding in research techniques for the masters dissertation research
Space and Social Theory

The module provides an introduction to space and social theory. The module will provide an introduction to a range of theoretical approaches within the social sciences, that have influenced research in human geography. The module will take the form of fortnightly seminars, focusing upon the work of some of the following (and others), and its relationship to geographical research:

  • Haraway
  • Harvey
  • Foucault
  • Latour
  • Said
  • Comte
  • Polanyi

The assessment method is a 5-page essay and an 8-page essay.

Spatial Data Handling

The module covers:

  • the nature of spatial data
  • fundamentals of programming
  • object orientation
  • data formats and conversion
  • vector data storage, processing and display
  • raster data storage, processing and display
  • python programming

This module aims to:

  • provide theoretical and technical skills in programming to enable students to tackle many problems faced in handling spatial information in digital form
  • develop an understanding of how programming can contribute to the spatial sciences, using Python to implement small programs
Studies in Environmental History

This module is based on lecture and intensive group discussion of selected readings in staff-led seminars. Topics covered include:

  • Introduction to environmental history: origins and approaches
  • Sources, methods and problems in environmental history
  • Reconstructing regional environmental history
  • Introduction to landscape ecology
  • Historical ecology
  • Woodland history/forest history
  • Natural resource management
  • Origins of conservation

This module aims to:

  • introduce the concepts of environmental history, landscape ecology and historical ecology, highlighting case studies from different geographical contexts
  • introduce and review the value of the landscape, ecological and environmental historical approaches to problems of environmental management


The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



The school has details of funding opportunities on our funding webpage. Further information can also be found on the Graduate School website.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Applications for 2017 entry scholarships will open in late 2016. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



Recent graduates have gone on to have successful careers in the public, private and third sectors including national and local government departments and regulatory agencies and charities. Many use this degree a foundation for further study, ie. a PhD.

A postgraduate qualification from The University of Nottingham shows potential employers that you are an intelligent, hard-working individual who is bright and flexible enough to undertake any form of specific career training.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 95% of postgraduates in the School of Geography who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation.*

* Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2014/15.

Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

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