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
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.

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. 

Dissertation: Environmental Management

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

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

Dissertation: Geographical Information Science

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

You 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.

Dissertation: Human Geography

Building directly on the work undertaken in the Research Design module, this module requires you to write a substantive research dissertation on a subject chosen following discussion with a nominated supervisor. The dissertation will be 20,000 words in length.

Dissertation: Landscape and Culture

This dissertation represents the culmination of the Landscape and Culture MA. You are required to submit a dissertation within 12 months of your 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. You are also advised about the required format of the dissertation.

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. 

Major themes examined include the following:

  • Linkages between poverty, environmental quality and livelihoods
  • Integration of environmental issues into development thinking and practice
  • Debates about overpopulation versus overconsumption
  • Urban environmental problems
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and livelihoods
  • Industry-related environment, development and livelihood issues
  • Slum dwellers and informal sector workers
  • Competition and conflict in agrarian environments
  • Forest-based development and livelihood issues
Environmental Management in Practice

The module will introduce you 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 could include:

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

This module 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
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.

Foundations of Environmental Management

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

Topics covered include:

  • climate-change impacts and mitigation
  • river channel processes and management
  • pure and applied research on biodiversity patterns
  • the science of risk-based contaminated land management
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.
Geospatial Technologies: Mobile, Augmented and Virtual

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. Content is organised as follows:

Part I: Digital Geographic Information in the public domain
Here we consider how a convergence of technologies (positioning, communication and processing) has allowed digital geographic information to make an impact 'beyond the desktop' at both a global scale through the web, and at a personal scale via the mobile device. This includes Virtual Globes, 'open' and 'linked' geographic information, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), Location Based Services, and mobile geospatial apps.

Part II: Virtual Geographic Environments
Here we look at the role and impact of multi-dimensional geographic visualisation to support decision making, environmental impact assessment, and the communication of spatial context. This includes animation and 3D graphics, advances in data capture, urban and rural landscape visualisation, interaction design and immersion, Augmented and Virtual Realities.

Geographical Information Science Study Skills and Research Methods

The module covers:

  • Study Skills: You 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 you an introduction to parametric and non-parametric statistics and the use of databases and statistical packages
  • Research Project Design: This section provides you with the underpinning material for you to develop your research project which would result in a successful dissertation
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:

  • You 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) 
  • You 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 you 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).

Project Management and Environmental Legislation

This module will develop your 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
Quaternary Environments

This module covers the following:

Semester one - High Latitudes and Palaeoecology

  • Lectures: Introduction to oceans as drivers of climate change; Antarctica/Southern Ocean including Biological Pump; the Arctic; the Mid Pleistocene Transition; Lake Baikal
  • Lectures: Palaeoecology; Multivariate statistics andtransfer functions
  • Practicals: Diatom microscopy (Swinnerton Laboratory); Computer practical on transfer functions

Semester two - Low Latitudes with a Mediterranean focus

  • Lectures: Introduction to Mediterranean and low latitude climates; Mediterranean Ocean history; Lakes and caves: Glacial-interglacial change and Holocene change; People and the environment in the eastern Mediterranean
  • Lectures: Isotopes in the hydrological cycle (source to geological sink); Isotope archives and coursework intro
  • Computer Practical: GNIP data analysis and Proxy System Models
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
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

You will write a report on your group project. You also write a full research plan, and make an individual presentation of this plan.

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 focus upon the work of some of the following (and others), and its relationship to geographical research:

  • Haraway
  • Harvey
  • Foucault
  • Latour
  • Said
  • Comte
  • Polanyi
Spatial Decision Making

The first part of the module covers the theory and practice of utilising Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for supporting spatial decision making. It reflects upon the broader discipline of Geographical Information Science (GI Science) before considering the importance of data quality, key spatial analysis tools and visualisation techniques.

The second part of the module extends the skills and knowledge gained in part one by applying them to a real world problem supplied by an external client (Experian). Students will work in teams by responding to an invitation to tender, then developing a GIS-based solution to a problem supplied by Experian which will typically involve evaluating alternative locations for retail developments around Nottingham.

Teams will plan 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).



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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