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Anything from specific impacts of climate change to the finer points of Brexit, the final year dissertation module is your opportunity to specialise in a research topic of your choice. With support from an academic supervisor, you will conduct your research project and write up your dissertation for submission at the end of your final year. 

The environmental science, geography and marine science dissertation topics we offered in 2021 are listed below. You can also read examples of some of the fantastic dissertations that were published by our students in international peer-reviewed journals over the past few years.



Dissertation Topics

Environmental science, geography and marine science dissertation projects and supervisors are identified at the end of second year and research completed over the following year.

Topics vary year-to-year to take advantage of developments in research, industry and the professions. Alternatively you can design your own project if none of these appeal. For example, some students completing the industrial placement do dissertations linked to the work of their host organisation.


Hormonal and behavioural effects of motorboat noise on wild coral reef fish

Anthropogenic noise is an emergent ecological pollutant in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Human population growth, urbanisation, resource extraction, transport and motorised recreation lead to elevated noise that affects animal behaviour and physiology, impacting individual fitness. Here, we carried out two field-based experiments to investigate the effects of short-term (30 min) and longer-term (48 h) motorboat-noise playback on the behaviour, cortisol and androgens of site-attached free-living orange-fin anemonefish.

Environmental Pollution

2020, 262, 114250


17α-ethynylestradiol limits the impact of ibuprofen upon respiration by streambed biofilms in a sub-urban stream

Pharmaceutical compounds such as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen and the artificial estrogen 17α-ethynylestradiol are contaminants of emerging concern in freshwater systems. Globally, human pharmaceutical use is growing by around ~ 3% per year; yet, we know little about how interactions between different pharmaceuticals may affect aquatic ecosystems. Here, we test how interactions between ibuprofen and EE2 affect the growth and respiration of streambed biofilms.

Environ Sci and Pollution Research

2020, 27, 37149–37154



The embryonic life history of the tropical sea hare Stylocheilus striatus (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) under ambient and elevated ocean temperatures

Ocean warming represents a major threat to marine biota worldwide, and forecasting ecological ramifications is a high priority as atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue to rise. Fitness of marine species relies critically on early developmental and reproductive stages, but their sensitivity to environmental stressors may be a bottleneck in future warming oceans. The present study focuses on the tropical sea hare, Stylocheilus striatus (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia), a common species found throughout the Indo-West Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.


2017, Feb 1;5:e2956.


An evaluation of supervised and unsupervised classification techniques for marine benthic habitat mapping using multibeam echosounder data

Marine habitat mapping provides information on seabed substrata and faunal community structure to users including research scientists, conservation organizations, and policy makers. Acoustic data are frequently used for habitat mapping in combination with video ground-truth data in either a supervised or unsupervised classification. In this investigation, video ground-truth data were classified to level 4 of the EUNIS habitat classification scheme and combined with bathymetry and backscatter data to test supervised and unsupervised classification approaches.

ICES Journal of Marine Science 

2015, 72, 1498–1513


Cascading effects of thermally-induced anemone bleaching on associated anemonefish hormonal stress response and reproduction

Organisms can behaviorally, physiologically, and morphologically adjust to environmental variation via hormonal mechanisms, allowing animals to cope with environmental change. The stress response to environmental and social changes commonly promotes survival at the expense of reproduction. However, despite climate change impacts on population declines and diversity loss, few studies have attributed hormonal stress responses, or their regulatory effects, to climate change in the wild. Here, we report hormonal and fitness responses of wild fish to a large-scale sea warming event.

Nature Communications

2017, 8, 716

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