ENV-MB6X: Dissertation

Description | Learning Objectives | What is a project? | Convenor | Assessment | Prize | Recommended texts

MSc Climate Change students can discuss their dissertation ideas with their advisers, with the MSc course director, and with other members of ENV staff (see also the school's research areas). Once you have a provisional dissertation title and supervisor, please email it to p.jones@uea.ac.uk


Each student carries out an individual research project under the guidance of a supervisor either within one of the research groups in the School or with an outside collaborator. The project normally involves the analysis and interpretation of data collected in the field, from measurements of a sample in the laboratory or from existing data gathered from other sources. Projects involving computer modelling are also common, provided some environmental aspects are involved. The process of selecting a suitable topic begins in Semester I as part of the training and coursework requirement for the compulsory Research Skills modules. A detailed dissertation proposal is prepared by the end of the first half of Semester II, with the main period of research work from May to August. During this period, regular meetings are organised to discuss progress and appropriate transferable skills in the context of the dissertation.

Learning Objectives

  1. Design and execute a small-scale research project.
  2. Explain the research in the context of current knowledge
  3. Apply appropriate methods in the collection, treatment and analysis of data
  4. Interpret results and draw conclusions in a scientifically rigorous manner
  5. Present a report in the form of a dissertation

What is a suitable project for a Climate Change MSc student?

MSc Climate Change dissertations often involve the analysis and interpretation of data abstracted from an existing source (such as weather reports, oceanographic cruise data, GCM data, government reports or census data). Dissertations may also involve data collected directly by the student (for example, through expert interviewing, surveys, fieldwork, or laboratory work).

Projects involving simulation exercises or the development of computer programs are permitted, provided that the project involves input from, or comparison with, the real environment. The dissertation supervisor should be satisfied that a particular project is suitable for the student to undertake.

An extended essay, based on reading in a particular subject area alone, is not regarded as satisfying project requirements.

A full list of past MSc Climate Change dissertation titles is available, and some examples are:


Although the dissertation module has an official organiser (see Who's who?), the MSc Climate Change course director acts as the module organiser for the Climate Change MSc students.

You will also have a specialist project supervisor who meets and guides the project work.


The final report is assessed under the following headings:

  1. Placing of project in context (including background reading)
  2. Project design
  3. Methodology/data collection
  4. Results, analysis and interpretation
  5. Conclusions
  6. Presentation, style and effectiveness in succinctly communicating scientific outcomes

Hubert H. Lamb Memorial Prize

Mrs. Moira Lamb, widow of Professor Hubert Lamb, founder of the Climatic Research Unit, kindly donated an annual prize (current value £100) for the best dissertation from the MSc in Climate Change. Students registered for the MSc in Climate Change are automatically considered for the prize.

The prize is awarded each year to the dissertation receiving the highest mark, which it is expected will be within the distinction grade (i.e. a mark of 70% or greater). Eligibility for the competition and the result of the award is decided by the Course Director, in consultation with the exam board and external examiner, and will be announced on this page.

Congratulations to Richmal Paxton for winning the 2015 Hubert H. Lamb Memorial Prize. Richmal's dissertation (under the supervision of Paul Dennis) was judged the best in the year

Congratulations to Nicholas Garrard for winning the 2014 Hubert H. Lamb Memorial Prize. Nicholas's dissertation "Direct emissions of nitrous oxide from soils: a comparison of two agricultural regimes" (under the supervision of Kevin Hiscock) was judged the best in the year

Congratulations to Chris Donaldson for winning the Hubert H. Lamb Memorial Prize for 2013. Chris's dissertation "Private flood mitigation and individual motivation: an analysis of a flood-prone community in Great Yarmouth" (under the supervision of Declan Conway) was judged the best in the year

Congratulations to Lilo Henke for winning the Hubert H. Lamb Memorial Prize for 2012. Lilo's dissertation "The palaeoclimate at Sea Mere, Norfolk. Application and evaluation of stable isotope analysis and clumped isotope thermometry on lacustrine sediments" (under the supervision of Paul Dennis) was judged the best in the year.

Past winners of the Hubert H. Lamb Memorial Prize

Dissertation titles are listed here.

Recommended texts

The UEA library holds a selection of guides for carrying out a dissertation (carry out a search for 'dissertations' here). Your dissertation supervisor will be able to advise on suitable texts for your specific dissertation.