UG dissertation examples

UG dissertation examples

Our undergraduate students cover a wide range of topics from Human Geography to Physical Geography. Here you can find some examples of recently completed undergraduate dissertations.

Human Geography dissertation examples

Land reform and sustainable development in the Western Isles of Scotland

Bruce Donald

What was your dissertation about? My dissertation was undertaken to study the contribution of land reform to sustainable development in the Western Isles of Scotland. This was conducted in collaboration with the James Hutton Institute and compared survey data from the National Islands Plan across the different Scottish Island regions; as well as my own interviews in Na h-Eileanan Siar. In an attempt to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the Community Land Organisations (Community Land Trusts) in the region. The findings were incorporated to provide policy recommendations related to land reform which were presented to representatives of the Scottish Government and Islands Team.

What skills did you develop (further) during your dissertation research? I developed my research skills, both in quantitative and qualitative analysis; and also increased my knowledge in a key area of interest for me; and an area of great importance for policy makers and land managers in Scotland.

What was the highlight of your dissertation work? I think the real highlight for me was getting to see the benefit of my work to the government and interacting with many important stakeholders in this area. It was also really amazing to study an area such as Na h-Eileanan Siar in depth. The culture, the people and their relationship with the land is really inspiring and is something which I think we all could learn from.

Supervised by Dr. Lorna Philip

Urban green space use in Aberdeen during the pandemic

Jamie Smith

I chose to focus my dissertation on the role of urban green spaces in Aberdeen during the ongoing pandemic.

During the first lockdown it was clear to see that people being confined to their own homes led them to seek any opportunity to get outdoors so as to improve their physical and mental well-being. This was supported by Google's 2020 mobility data report which highlighted Aberdeen City as an example of a place showing a particularly large increase in park visitors during this period. I wanted to find out more about why people were deciding to visit green spaces or conversely maybe why there were now less inclined.

Access was a key aspect I focused on to identify the distribution of green spaces across Aberdeen city and find pockets that access could be improved for residents. I created online questionnaires to gather first hand responses of how people had been using green spaces and how maybe that had changed over the past year. The outcome of my dissertation made it clear to see how valuable these green spaces were to residents during the pandemic but also the new challenges which had arisen.

Supervised by Dr. Flurina Wartmann

Physical Geography dissertation examples

Mapping patterns of tree spreading in the British Isles during the early Holocene

Eleanor Downie

What was your dissertation about? My dissertation used data extracted from pollen diagrams to map patterns of tree spreading in the British Isles during the early Holocene. I created a series of isochrone maps – showing the direction and timing of species dispersal – using ArcGIS. This built upon research first conducted in the late 1980s (with hand-drawn maps), almost doubling the number of data points. Significant changes in patterns were observed in some instances, with the research ultimately adding to our body of knowledge regarding species distributions, rates of spread, and response to controlling factors such as climate and topography.

What skills did you develop (further) during your dissertation research? I learnt a number of new techniques, particularly how to use GIS software, and improved my statistical analysis skills and my ability to think critically when analysing data outputs. I also improved my ability to quickly find and filter potential data sources. In terms of personal development, working during the COVID lockdown helped me hone my time management skills, notably creating and keeping to my own deadlines whilst also remembering to take regular breaks.

What was the highlight of your dissertation work? Finding new and undiscovered patterns of tree spread, and being able to explore the possible causes for this. Completing my dissertation was a rewarding experience as I felt that I had contributed new knowledge to my subject field.

Supervised by Dr. J. Edward Schofield