Dissertation Time

Term starts at Harper Adams and the final year REALM (Rural Enterprise and Land Management) students have just returned from their placement years.  It’s always good to see them back from placement: confident after their year’s experience, appetites for learning refreshed and the maturity that comes from direct professional experience.

One of the early tasks for the students is to select a topic for their dissertation and find a tutor who is willing to supervise their project.  This is a very important piece of work as it counts for 25% of the final year, and must result in a highly coherent 10,000 word thesis if it is to be acceptable to the examiners.  It’s also an opportunity for a student to work with industry if suitable projects come forward for a piece of suitable research.  An industrial partner can help with access to data, case studies and the formulation of a relevant research question as well as costs of travel, surveys or other incidentals, even a sponsorship or bursary in some cases.

A well defined project with a good student can produce a report of real value to the sponsor, and in appropriate cases it is possible to ensure that the report is treated as confidential.  However these do need to be set up really carefully to ensure that the student will be able to achieve the best outcome against the academic requirements.

Topics of interest to the students who have already approached me have included water in agriculture, renewables on farms and professional fees for surveying services.

I have suggested a number of topics for students to consider and these include:

  • The RICS Designated Professional Body scheme for insurance intermediaries under the Financial Services Act: practitioner awareness and application
  • Why students choose to study at HAUC
  • Online learning as a form of CPD amongst rural practice chartered surveyors
  • Land manager perceptions of ecosystem services/payments for ecosystem services (PES)/legal and tenure aspects of layered and bundled PES
  • Short term farm business tenancies and their impact on soil quality and condition
  • Organisational change and development as continual revolution. The role of corporate memory and continuity in organisational stability in rural land management.
  • Deployment of social media in rural land management, levels of engagement by practitioners.
  • The reflection of risk and confidence in valuation reporting.

These are start points of course, and will need to be developed very carefully.

I have summarised the requirements in this way:

What we need at the end of this project, next April or May, is a finely polished and highly coherent 10,000 word research report which:
  • Sets out the area of interest (what and why) clearly in an introduction
  • Acquaints the reader with Your Analysis of all the relevant literature, concluding with the particular issue you are going to research
  • Sets out a viable method with a convincing justification including all ethical issues which might be raised, in the context of research methods as a whole
  • Presents some interesting and novel results from your actual research
  • Discusses these in the context of what we knew already (back to the lit review)
  • Draws out some conclusions and recommendations, preferably of a practical as well as academic nature.
  • Reflects on your own experience in undertaking the project.

If any readers feel they can help with a student dissertation then please do get in touch.

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