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Frequently Asked Questions

Who should I contact if I have problems with my dissertation?


Try and resolve the issue yourself. If you cannot find a solution, contact your supervisor. If you still cannot find a solution, contact the module co-ordinator.  


Will I get an extension?


Only in exceptional circumstances will you be granted an extension to your dissertation deadline. When an extenuating circumstance occurs which is out of your control, an EC1 form should be submitted following the guidance outlined here


What are 'extenuating circumstances'?


Extenuating circumstances refer to something unforeseeable or unavoidable. They are normally circumstances beyond your control which either prevent you submitting the dissertation, or which affect academic performance during the dissertation process. Extenuating circumstances will usually be health related or of a personal nature. Examples of extenuating circumstances that may be accepted by the Board of Examiners include:

- Illness in the run-up to the dissertation deadline;

- Bereavement in the run-up to the dissertation deadline (normally a close relative);

- Sudden illness or emergency in connection with a family member or dependent;

- Civil disturbance (rioting, intimidation, bomb-scares, bus and rail disruption);

- Traumatic event (e.g. being assaulted, or witnessing an accident or assault).


What circumstances are not accepted as extenuating?


It is not possible to list every circumstance that the Board of Examiners would reject. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances, general pressure of academic work is not taken to be circumstances beyond your control, as you are expected to plan your work schedule. Examples of extenuating circumstances that would not normally be accepted:

- Employment commitments limiting time available for study;

- Pressure of other academic work e.g. other coursework due around the same time;

- Having to take a pre-arranged holiday;

- Wedding preparations;

- Sporting commitments (although exceptions might sometimes be made, e.g. if you were representing your country, or the University);

- Missing a bus;

- Moving house;

- Failure of IT systems, or inability to gain access to IT systems, when you have not taken adequate precautionary measures.

Note these examples are not definitive, and are intended only as a guide. In all cases, the Board of Examiners has ultimate authority to use its discretion, taking into account the full circumstances of a particular case. 


Can I change dissertation topic once I have submitted my research proposal?


Yes. If you decide to change topic after submitting your proposal, you must discuss this with your supervisor and agree the new topic. If deemed necessary by your supervisor, a new research proposal will be submitted. Although this new proposal does will form part of the assessment it is nonetheless important, as it will help to ensure that you have thought through the design of the new dissertation project and that it is a relevant and feasible study. You may also need to complete a new risk assessment.

Students enrolled on the DPP/DIAS programmes sometimes change dissertation topics to suit their placement experience. Any changes to dissertation topics should be agreed with your supervisor by the end of week 1 of semester 1 in final year. Notification of the new topic should be sent to the dissertation co-ordinator. 


What if I experience problems with Turnitin and I miss the submission deadline?


Don't panic. Do not attempt to submit the digital version of your dissertation as an e-mail attachment either to your supervisor or dissertation co-ordinator as this will clog their mail boxes. Instead, e-mail the dissertation co-ordinator asap after the deadline passes to explain the circumstances and the time-stamp on your e-mail will be accepted as evidence of attempted submission. 


Who marks my research proposal and progress report?


Your research proposal and progress report are marked by your supervisor, and form the basis for discussion in subsequent progress meetings. 


When can I expect feedback on my dissertation?


You can expect detailed feedback on a draft of your dissertation by week 9 if you submit it by the week 6 deadline. After this point, you can expect your supervisor to answer specific questions (e.g. clarification of methods, interpretation of a result, or the content of a figure/table), but not to comment on full sections of your dissertation. 



How soon after submitting my coursework will I get feedback?


The University policy is that coursework is marked and returned within 15 working days of submission. If you do not hear back from your supervisor within this time, and no alternative arrangements have been made, please contact your supervisor directly for feedback.


Who marks my dissertation?


Your dissertation is double blind-marked; by your supervisor and another member of academic staff with similar teaching/research interests. 


How is the final dissertation mark arrived at?


When the 1st and 2nd marks are within 10% of each other, an average mark is usually agreed. If the 1st and 2nd markers cannot agree a mark (this is unusual), a 3rd marker is tasked with blind marking the dissertation. The process is moderated by the Dissertation Co-ordinator and the External Examiners.


Who are the UG Course Directors?


Dr Suzanne Beech (Geography), Dr Joerg Arnscheidt (Environmental Science), Dr Chris McGonigle (Marine Science).

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