MPhil in Geographical Research
1. Two Geography Options
Each MPhil Geographical Research student follows two 'geography options' which would normally relate to their research interests. The options are chosen in consultation with the supervisor and Director of the MPhil in Geographical Research; and it is helpful if some discussion can take place before admission. Each option is assessed through a submitted essay of 4,000 words.
Because we encourage a student-driven approach to the MPhil Geographical Research, which can be used to develop a focus on plans for the eventual PhD, there is flexibility about the way in which the geography options can be constructed, usually within the four broad streams listed below. It is possible (within streams 1, 2 and 4) to choose courses within other MPhils in the Department, which normally take the form of lectures and seminars (see relevant sections of the Departmental web site). Other options can be tailored to take account of the needs, prior knowledge and experience of individual students. For these, teaching is undertaken by arrangement in small reading groups or in one-to-one discussions. A third possibility is to choose options from other MPhils in the University, which must be done by prior agreement with the Director of the MPhil concerned, the student's supervisor and the Geography Director of Graduate Studies. Finally, it is possible to mix and match these approaches, provided that the options are carefully considered and approved.
The streams within which these options are normally chosen are:
- Conservation and Development. Theories and concepts in the context of research themes in the field of conservation issues. One module is available on 'Conservation problems and practice' which is taught during the first half of the first term. This teaching is supplemented by regular seminars and activities. See details on http://intranet.geog.cam.ac.uk/graduate/mphil/conservation/)
- Environment, Society and Development : 2 options are available, which are taught over terms 1 and 2. Politics, Society and Nature, and Climate Change: politics, society and economy. The 2 options include lectures covering topics such as: political ecology, institutions and development, culture and society-nature relations, the economics of climate change, cities and climate change, and African political economies of environmental change.
- Cultural Geography. This option involves close work with cultural geographers in the department, combining reading and small discussion groups. Additionally seminars from visiting academics are organised.
- Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies. The Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies MPhil has a core course in Theory and Controversy, a seminar programme that runs through terms 1 and 2. Students may also attend the research seminars at Gender Studies
- Economy, society and policy analysis. This option involves close work with economic and political geographers in the department, combining guided reading and small discussion groups. Students are also advised of research seminars taking place across the university. Topics that can be covered include new economic geographies and social impacts of economic change, primarily using the UK, US and EU as sources of statistical and other information. Understanding of relevant theories, with a strong policy component, and discussion of qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection.
2. Social Science Methods Modules
These modules are taught jointly with other social science departments in Cambridge and have their own administrator and director. Some modules have choices within them to cater for different levels of prior training. Students normally take courses in the following areas:
- Foundations in Applied Statistics
- Survey Methods
- Qualitative methods
- Personal choice of two further research methods modules
Whilst training in each of these areas is recommended, it is recognised that students come with a variety of backgrounds which can often include substantial prior training in some of these areas. Substitution of other recognized modules in the same areas as those listed above is, therefore, possible and encouraged. This has to be arranged and approved at the start of the teaching in October at the latest.
3. Research Design, Ethics, etc
Formal assessment is within the thesis where the skills taught are expected to be fully evidenced. Training sessions are provided on the main elements of:
- Research Design and Management
- Bibliographic and cartographic skills
- Ethics, codes of practice