Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Dissertation in River System Dynamics and Management
Academic Year
Semester 3 (Dissertation)

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 15 minute oral presentation (September)  10%
Semester Assessment Dissertation (13,000-15,000 words)  90%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed components.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Independently formulate a research design and hypotheses.

Demonstrate their knowledge of the theoretical principles of scientific research.

Place research in appropriate wider contexts.

Search for relevant literature and databases.

Demonstrate proficiency in appropriate data collection and analysis techniques.

Present the results and conclusions of their research in a coherent manner in the form of a professionally produced dissertation.

Present the results and conclusions of their research in a coherent manner in the form of an oral presentation.

Brief description

The research project is an independent study on a chosen research question relating to river system dynamics and management. Students will have the possibility to specialise in the use of specific technique(s) in order to solve particular research questions. These can be drawn from fluvial geomorphology or hydrology, and involve field work, laboratory analysis, the application of GIS and remote sensing, and/or numerical modelling work. Projects will often be related to research interests of staff and may involve collaboration with external bodies such as Natural Resources Wales, Snowdonia National Park Authority and environmental management consultancies. The River Basin Dynamics and Hydrology group also has links with a range of international organisations and opportunities may exist for fieldwork and placements beyond the UK.

Examples of potential MSc dissertation projects include:

Application of hyperspectral imagery to mapping contaminated floodplains.

Channel morphodynamics following a large-scale tailings dam failure

Assessing rates of sediment delivery to Llyn Tegid, North Wales

Assessing the geomorphological impacts of micro-hydropower schemes

Mobillity of large woody debris in small catchments

Monitoring and modelling the dynamics of river restoration using novel geomatics technologies

Developing numerical models to simulate the translation and dispersion of sediment pulses (e.g. from landslides, dam breach outburst floods)

Modelling flood risk to people and property in geomorphologically dynamic environments

Numerical modelling of braided river morphodynamics


Students will be encouraged to meet with staff to discuss their dissertation plans in semesters 1 and 2. Students will be assigned a supervisor to provide guidance and advice during the course of the research and the writing of the dissertation. The process is divided into several key stages:

  • Devise research project.
  • Complete necessary background reading.
  • Complete necessary field and laboratory work (where appropriate)
  • Complete written dissertation.
  • Prepare and deliver research presentation.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number The dissertation may involve the collection and analysis of primary data. In which case students will organise their data using databases, analyse data with appropriate statistical techniques and present sometimes complex quantitative datasets using graphs and tables.
Communication There is an oral presentation to staff and peers. Written communication is assessed through the submission of the dissertation.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will undertake a significant amount of self-directed study, including extensive reading, field and laboratory work. In order to complete the research on time, students need to demonstrate good time management.
Information Technology Students will be expected to use a range of information technology in the generation of their dissertations and in the oral presentation of their work. Students will become familiar with the critical use of online source materials such as journals and policy documents. Some students may choose to use GIS software or freely available remote sensing data as part of their research. Others may wish to use numerical modelling software, Excel or statistical packages to interrogate databases, generate analyses and produce graphical outputs
Personal Development and Career planning The dissertation will develop high level skills in synthesising, evaluating and presenting complex information. The presentation of information, orally and in the dissertation are key components of the module. This is useful preparatory experience for PhD research, and positions in environmental consultancies, conservation groups, and government environmental management agencies.
Problem solving Students are expected to define a research problem and to devise an appropriate strategy to solve the problem.
Research skills Research skills are integral to the dissertation as it is based on research enquiry. All students will develop a range of research skills, dependent on the nature of their topic.
Subject Specific Skills This will depend on the topic of the dissertation.
Team work This is an independent project and teamwork is only anticipated if safety considerations in the field demand it.


This module is at CQFW Level 7