Studying our Master of Research (MRes) Science allows you to focus your research interests on one or two areas of science and work towards translating your learning into research related outputs – such as a submission for a peer-reviewed publication; a peer reviewed research/knowledge transfer grant application, or a presentation.

MRes Science can be studied either full time (1-year) or part time (2-years). You will develop a wide variety of skills, experience and competence on this course, and the MRes will provide a thorough grounding for students moving towards Doctoral (PhD) studies, or pursuing research related activities as a career.

Within the School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences we welcome applications from students interested in all topics, but especially those which are allied with our research areas: Geographies of Health and Well-being, Social and Cultural Geography, Economic Geography, Political Geography, Development Studies, Historical Geography, Urban Geography, Environmental Justice, Coastal and Marine Resource Management, Coastal Processes, River Management and Restoration, Quaternary Science, Environmental Change, Glaciology, Climatology, Weathering, Ecology. Specific projects and supervisors can be found below.

Please note this list of projects is not exhaustive and you'll need to meet and discuss the project you're interested in with a member of research staff before you apply.

If you have an idea not covered in the projects below, please e-mail Dr Clare Boston ( to discuss project options and potential supervisors.

MRes Science - Geography research projects:

Investigating recent glacier change from remotely-sensed imagery

Supervisors: Dr Harold Lovell, Dr Clare Boston

Globally, there have been significant losses in glacier mass during the 20th and 21st centuries - with losses in many areas increasing in the last two decades. Glacier mass loss contributes to eustatic sea level rise and has large societal implications. Understanding the controls on glacier response to climatic changes is important for predicting their response over the next century. Specifically, local factors such as shading, slope, valley width, debris cover and type of terminus will affect this response. This project will use a combination of satellite imagery, DEMs and/or previous mapping to investigate local controls on glacier change. Potential locations include Canadian Arctic, Russian Arctic, Greenland, Alaska, Himalayas, Patagonia, Antarctic region. Candidates should have an ability to manipulate and analyse remotely sensed data in ArcGIS and other remote sensing software.

Younger Dryas glacier extent and dynamics in Scotland 

Supervisors: Dr Clare Boston, Dr Harold Lovell

The Younger Dryas was a period of rapid climate change at decadal to centennial time scales, and was the last time substantial ice bodies existed in Britain. The often well-preserved nature of the geomorphological and sedimentological evidence allows us to reconstruct former ice extents, ice dynamics, and retreat patterns, and examine their links to climate change. However a previously fragmentary approach to palaeo-glaciological research in Scotland has limited our understanding of these factors. This project will use a landsystems approach to examine an area of Scotland in detail and record the landform-sediment assemblages. Analysis will focus on improving understanding of palaeoclimate in the area and/or factors controlling ice mass recession.

Understanding the distribution, diversity and preservation of charcoal in the sedimentary record

Supervisor: Dr Mark Hardiman

Charcoal occurrence within sedimentary archives is often used as a proxy of past wildfire events within environmental change studies. This is particularly true of lacustrine and peat bog sequences, which are often considered to have relatively simple depositional histories allowing the application of various charcoal statistics. Despite the long history of such research relatively little attention has been given to understanding the taphonomy of charcoal in these archives. Potential projects include:

  • production of high resolution macro and micro-charcoal palaeo-records to reconstruct past wildfire frequency during periods of abrupt climate change
  • study of charcoal preservation, transport and sedimentation in both ancient and modern geomorphic systems

Techniques used in these projects include high and low-powered microscopy, analysis via Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), charring experiments, and use of a sediment flume.

Assessing post-wildfire vegetation recovery in the UK using GIS and remote sensing techniques 

Supervisors: Dr Harold LovellDr Mark Hardiman

Climate change models increasingly suggest that the SE of England will experience prolonged drier summers by the end of this century, a shift from a warm temperates to a Mediterranean-style climate. Potential consequences of this include making the landscape more susceptible to the occurrence of wildfires, particularly in heathland areas of southern England. This study aims to investigate the impact of wildfire on the environment, specifically the recovery of vegetation following a heathland wildfire event, through the application of GIS and remote sensing techniques. This will include the collection and analysis of field survey data using a laser scanner, and the application of automated classification techniques to a time-series of satellite images. These data will be used to analyse patterns and rates of vegetation recovery and to understand the controls on these. The project will add to our understanding of landscape and ecosystem recovery following wildfire events.

Construction of palaeo-environments using glacio-fluvial and glacio-lacustrine sediments within the Drac Valley, Grenoble France 

Supervisors: Dr Malcolm Whitworth, Dr Harold Lovell, Dr Clare Boston, Dr Mark Hardiman

The Sinard area is underlain by glacio-fluvial outwash deposits and glacio-lacustrine deposits. These fill the entire valley in addition to other fluvial channels that cap the sequence but also form channels in the hanging valleys. The focus of this project would be to establish a detailed Quaternary stratigraphy of these sequences across this region in order to form a better understanding of the landscape history of the area during the Last Glacial Period (Glacial advances/retreats, formation of the large ice dammed lake, potential glacial tectonics etc..). Stratigraphy and detailed sedimentology will be carried out across key sedimentary sections and visible volcanic ash layers, which may be a result of the Massif Central volcanic centre, will also be searched for. If present these may be used as key isochrons for determining the local sequence of events as well as adding to our understanding of the volcanic activity of the Massif Central during the Last Glacial Period.


Lukas, S., Benn, D. I., Boston, C. M., Brook, M., Coray, S., Evans, D. J., ... & Signer, M. (2013). Clast shape analysis and clast transport paths in glacial environments: a critical review of methods and the role of lithology. Earth-Science Reviews, 121, 96-116.

Lane, C. S., Brauer, A., Martín-Puertas, C., Blockley, S. P., Smith, V. C., & Tomlinson, E. L. (2015). The Late Quaternary tephrostratigraphy of annually laminated sediments from Meerfelder Maar, Germany. Quaternary Science Reviews, 122, 192-206.

Lane, C. S., Blockley, S. P. E., Lotter, A. F., Finsinger, W., Filippi, M. L., & Matthews, I. P. (2012). A regional tephrostratigraphic framework for central and southern European climate archives during the Last Glacial to Interglacial transition: comparisons north and south of the Alps. Quaternary Science Reviews, 36, 50-58.

Dating and synchronising marine palaeoclimate records from the Eastern Mediterranean using volcanic ask layers

Supervisors: Dr Sabine Wulf, Dr Mark Hardiman

Explosive volcanism can produce huge amounts of volcanic ash (tephra) which is widely dispersed and synchronously deposited in different environments. If preserved in terrestrial and ocean sediments, tephra layers can be an important tool for reconstructing explosive histories of hazardous volcanoes and dating sediment sequences used for palaeoclimate reconstruction. This study will implement the chemical and grain size characterisation of a number of visible tephra layers from several marine sediment cores from the Eastern Mediterranean region, in order to:

  • define their volcanic source
  • construct a reliable age model
  • enable linking of available proxy data of marine cores for regional palaeoclimate reconstruction

The successful candidate will carry out both laboratory and analytical work, including the utilisation of Scanning Electron Microscopy and laser granulometry.

Mapping and measuring cold pool dynamics in mountain valleys 

Supervisor: Dr Nick Pepin

In complex topography distinct microclimates are common. Understanding the formation of nocturnal cold-pools is vital to predicting areas of increased frost risk, potential fog formation, and relevant for many ecological and practical applications. Sinking of cold air under periods of negative radiation balance effectively decouples the local climate from that of the free atmosphere, which makes it very difficult to predict local conditions - which is usually achieved via downscaling of larger scale model output. This project aims to combine a GIS modelling approach with field measurements to investigate the spatial extent and behaviour of cold pools in the Pyrenees (Cerdagne valley) in collaboration with the Meteorological Service of Catalonia, and/or Kevo valley in northern Finland in collaboration with the Sub-Arctic Research Centre of the University of Turku. Additional locations may be chosen by the successful applicant, if practical. The contrast between mid latitude and high-latitude sites, where one has strong diurnal cycles and the other often does not may also be an interesting area of enquiry. Strong GIS and analytical skills are an advantage. There is an opportunity to do fieldwork if desired, but this is not necessary because the lead supervisor has developed field campaigns with extensive data available already.

Validation of surface temperates from MODIS data using field datasets

Supervisor: Dr Nick Pepin

It is becoming increasingly critical to quantify changes in the temperature of the Earth, particularly in remote areas, or in the Arctic and/or mountainous areas which are prone to enhanced warming. Unfortunately there is a general lack of long-term climate data in both types of environment, and so scientists are increasingly turning to satellites to measure surface temperatures at the local scale. This approach is of limited value unless the satellite measurements can be validated in the field through ground-truthing. The advantages of satellites include that the data is extensive, comprehensive, and covers the landscape at a high resolution (in theory). However the disadvantages include contamination by land-use, cloud cover, and other variables. This project aims to attempt to validate MODIS “clear sky” daytime and nighttime surface temperature (1 km resolution) using air temperature (and some surface) data collected over the last 7 years around Kevo Subarctic Research Station in northern Finland. There is also some opportunity for more intensive field validation campaigns, particularly to compare skin, surface and air temperatures and their daily cycle, and the influence of snow cover on such cycles. The study area is particularly interesting because it suffers from extreme local scale variability in surface temperature due to cold air drainage (common in the Arctic), and it is important to assess how local scale temperature inversion may or may not be captured in satellite retrievals. An ability to combine GIS techniques and programming skills with statistical analysis is necessary.

Spatial variability of gravestone erosion rates

Supervisor: Dr Rob Inkpen

Analysis of the erosion rerates of gravestones can provide vital information about past atmospheric pollution environments. This could be important for understanding the erosion of historic monuments in the past as well as the impact of atmospheric pollution on health. However, there is little research on the spatial variability of gravestone erosion rates at the micro-scale - i.e. within a graveyard and on the gravestone itself. This lack of knowledge of the spatial patterns of gravestone erosion makes it unclear how representative the limited number of measurements taken on an individual gravestone are of the erosion of the gravestone as a whole and, likewise, how much spatial variability there is in erosion between gravestones in a graveyard. This research aims to plug this methodological gap through the detailed analysis of the micro-spatial variability of gravestone erosion in graveyards in Portsmouth and the surrounding area. As well as the standard lead lettering index (LLI), the research project will use more innovative techniques to determine the erosion of gravestones, including laser scanning of gravestone surfaces to quantify spatial variabilities in erosion across an individual gravestone.

Erosion and conservation of stone under changing environments 

Supervisor: Dr Rob Inkpen

Conserving national heritage is a vital cultural and economic imperative, but one that is increasingly impacted by environmental change. Stone is an important element of most national monuments but there are few experimental and field studies of how different conservation practices prevent or enhance the erosion of this precious heritage material. This research project aims to identify and quantity the impact of changing environmental conditions on the erosion of different heritage stones, and the effectiveness of current conservation treatments in these changing conditions. The research will involve use of an environmental cabinet to simulate changing environmental conditions as well as a series of field trials. Alteration of the stone will be undertaken using techniques such as laser scanning of surface change, photographic analysis and NIR as well as analysis of change in the physical and chemical properties of the stone. The outcomes of this research will be designed to be of use to professional conservators.

Establishing attitudes and perceptions of recreational boat users based in the Solent, UK, towards Marine Conservation Zones

Supervisor: Dr Jonathan Potts

This research project will focus on recreational boat users in the Solent, one of the world’s busiest offshore recreational areas. Increased pressures on marine and coastal resources have led to their degradation. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an integral feature of marine conservation programmes globally to mitigate such degradation. Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are a new type of MPA designated under the United Kingdom’s Marine and Coastal Access Act, 2009, and are designed to ensure the long term survival of wildlife and biodiversity in UK waters.

This study will aim to establish the attitudes and perceptions of recreational boat users (RBUs) in the Solent, United Kingdom (UK) with respect to MCZs. Specifically, this study will attempt to:

  • determine the demographic profile of the boating population in question, as well as the nature and intensity of their boating practice
  • establish what the activities, preferences, and sources of perceived conflict are amongst RBUs using the Solent
  • evaluate the understanding of and support for MCZs amongst RBUs, and establish any opportunities for more effective stakeholder engagement

The plasticity of risk: the political ecology of atmospheric pollution

Supervisor: Dr Rob Inkpen

Atmospheric pollution has become an increasingly visible problem for the health of urban populations across the globe. National and international organisations set limits and guidelines to guide or nudge policy-makers to reduce atmospheric pollution to acceptable levels, while risk is quantified and given a threshold. The seemingly objective nature of such risks are, however, the outcome of a complex series of negotiations between different actors or assemblages. This research project will look at the evolution of the nature and quantification of risk of atmospheric pollution in the UK over the last 50 years. The identification of hazardous pollutants and the methods and standards used to quantify the risks associated with these pollutants will be viewed through the lens of political ecology to identify the networks of relations, the actors and assemblages involved in the demarcating risk thresholds. The evolution and modification of the nature of the risk of atmospheric pollution over time will be analysed though the shifting nature of this network.

Developing novel, low-cost interventions to improve green roof biodiversity

Supervisor: Dr Heather Rumble

Research in the South East of the UK suggests that green roofs do not support a diverse range of soil fauna and microbes, potentially limiting the growth of plants. However high quality, biodiverse green roofs are often not implemented due to the cost and the lack of evidence about the best way to support animals and plants. Investigating new ways to improve green roof biodiversity while keeping costs low is vital in applied ecology. This project aims to fill this gap in knowledge by testing the effect on soil fauna of adding microhabitat features to existing, low biodiversity green roofs. The methods employed to achieve this will include plant and soil faunal surveying and statistical analysis. Field sites will be in Portsmouth where possible, but could also be in London.

Determining the geospatial pattern of mycorrhizal fungus in Sedum spp. 

Supervisor: Dr Heather Rumble

Sedum is a small, succulent plant that is naturally rare in the UK, typically inhabiting mountainous areas such as Snowdonia. However, it is increasingly used in an urban environment as an ornamental plant and, more importantly, is the most common plant to be planted on green roofs. It's natural scarcity means that little is known about it's ecology, in particular whether it forms a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi live within the roots of almost all living plants and have often been cited as benefiting plants by donating phosphorous, in return for carbon from the plant. This principle is capitalised on by industry, who sell these organisms as beneficial "inoculants". However, very few studies have investigated if Sedum can even form associations with these mycorrhizal fungi and scientific reports present conflicting views on this. This project aims to determine if Sedum species are inhabited by mycorrhiza, both domestically and in the wild, and if there are spatial and species specific patterns to this relationship. Understanding this could form the basis of developing new inoculants for use on green roofs and also demonstrates changes in ecological relationships brought about by human actions. Fieldwork in the form of collecting Sedum samples is a necessary element of this project.

Strategic Greenspace for maximised benefits

Supervisor: Dr Heather Rumble

Regular interaction with nature by urban residents has been shown to alleviate stress, contribute to long-term good mental health and encourage physical activity, promoting long-term physical health. Despite this growing body of evidence into the intrinsic value of urban greenspace, urban parks are under increasing financial pressure, with reductions in funding and increased requirements for parks to earn revenue for their upkeep. With limited budgets, limited space, and competition with other construction projects that produce more easily quantifiable economic benefit, it has become more important to understand where to place parks and greenspace strategically for maximum social benefit.

However, little is known about the way people use and access parks and their associated social benefits, or ecosystem services. This means that some ecosystem services could be oversubscribed, whilst others are hardly used. This project aims to combine an understanding of how people move in cities with information about how people use greenspace specifically. In order to do this, this project combines gravity modelling in GIS with innovative applications that record users’ interactions with space, such as Finland’s MyDynamicForest. The project is in collaboration with Forest Research’s “Urban Forest Research Group” (UFoRG), the UK’s government agency dedicated to researching urban forests.

Evaluating water footprinting

Supervisor: Dr Julia Brown

“Water is probably one of the most precious resources and vital for everyone’s everyday life. Despite this obvious fact, people use large amounts of water: drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, and almost every other physical product. The water footprint of a person, company or nation is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the commodities, goods and services consumed by the person, company or nation. The idea of the water footprint is quite similar to the ecological footprint, but focussing on the use of water.” The Virtual Water Project

This research project aims to assess how effective water footprinting is in changing attitudes and behaviours towards fresh water consumption at the household level utilising a mixed methods approach. The project first involves calculating the water footprint of a range of households (up to 20). This will necessitate reviewing different water footprinting methodologies and devising a questionnaire which will need to be completed by the chosen households. The second component of the project entails qualitative methods. The researcher will interview up to 10 households to determine whether knowledge of their water footprint has the potential to change behaviour vis-àvis water pricing and water metering (i.e. demand-management).

Entrepreneurship in homes and neighbourhoods

Supervisor: Dr Carol Ekinsmyth

Small business is increasingly home-based and as such, is more likely to make use of resources and capital available at the local level (domestic neighbourhood, locality) (Mason et al, 2011). Whilst literature has explored the dimensions of home as a locus for small business at some length, considerably less focus has been aimed towards neighbourhoods (Ekinsmyth 2011). What attributes of local neighbourhoods create a vibrant and facilitative milieu for small business formation/growth and what kinds of people are setting up home and neighbourhood-based businesses? The aim of this research will be to explore these questions through a focus upon small-business owners embedded in particular neighbourhoods.

Entrepreneurship in rural areas

Supervisor: Dr Carol Ekinsmyth

Rural and peripheral areas are increasingly connected by ICTs that enable new ways of earning a living for people located there. This in turn, enables people who haven’t had access to work (by virtue of lifestage, gender, age etc.) to engage in paid work, self-employment or entrepreneurship. This project will ask what attributes of rural communities and locales create a facilitative environments for small business formation/growth or self-employment and what kinds of people are setting up in business in these areas. It could become a specific project on farm diversification enterprises or concentrate on a broader range of rural-based enterprise.

Promoting the 'entrepreneurial self': working in the creative industries

Supervisor: Dr Carol Ekinsmyth

Research on labour geographies in the cultural and creative industries has reached consensus that creative workers increasingly act as ‘entrepreneurial selves’ – i.e. they construct their own work biographies, and operate as entrepreneurs to produce, market and sell their labour and craft (Hracs and Leslie, 2014, Banks and Milestone 2011). Through a concentration on a specific industry, chosen in consultation with the Supervisor, this research will examine the class and/or gender processes that underlie these ways of working (and thus, these industries).

Inclusive growth - breakthrough or oxymoron? 

Supervisor: Professor Donald Houston

Income inequality has risen sharply in both the global ‘north’ and the global ‘south’. Less-skilled workers and weaker local economies have often been left behind by new rounds of investment. In response to these concerns, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has developed the notion of ‘inclusive growth’. Yet remarkably little is known about the circumstances in which economic growth either enhances or damages social inclusion.

The proposed research aims to understand why some places and sectors in the economy have grown in more inclusive ways than others. It will also identify the contextual and institutional factors conducive to a symbiotic relationship between growth and inclusion. On the basis of the results, the project also aims to make recommendations on how local and regional economic development policy can meet both economic and social goals.

New ways of accessing jobs and services

Supervisor: Professor Donald Houston

Cities and ICT have revolutionized where and when human activities take place. More public (and commercial) services are delivered on-line. Workplaces are less fixed, as more hours are worked remotely. Top-quality services and high-paid jobs have centralized into key urban centres. People are travelling less and fewer people are learning to drive.

The overarching objective of the project is to investigate the social inclusion implications of changing ways of accessing public services, amenities and jobs. In meeting this objective, the project will address four specific aims:

  • to identify the socio-economic factors shaping the extent to which vibrant urban communities are inclusive for those who live there, and accessible to those who live elsewhere
  • to understand changing cultural preferences and lifestyles in relation to urban living, mobility, accessibility, use of digital services, and working from home and other spaces - particularly among the ‘millennial’ and ‘baby-boomer’ generations
  • to explore the trends in providing public services from geographical and technological perspectives, in particular the digitization, scaling-up and centralisation of services
  • to assess the implications of new accessibilities for urban planning, transport policy, and for the delivery of public services

The geographies of co-behaviours

Supervisor: Professor Liz Twigg

Geographies of health-related behaviour have received much attention in recent years. This work has tended to focus on the individual and geographical factors that influence a single behaviour such as smoking or alcohol consumption. More recently, public health workers have become interested in the interplay and interaction between different types of behaviour, however the micro and macro level geographies influencing co-behaviour remain unclear. This project would use modelling techniques with routinely collected national survey data to investigate the geographies of (for example) smoking and drinking, poor diet and poor exercise or alcohol and other substance misuse. Depending on the behaviours chosen, the project could focus on young people or young adults.

The use of social media in public health

Supervisor: Professor Liz Twigg

The use of social media in public health is relatively new but is fast gaining recognition as a useful tool to target particular groups. To date there has been little review or evaluation of these new approaches to public health messaging, education and intervention. Importantly, we do not know the types of people or settings where these approaches are most effective. The project would therefore focus on reviewing and classifying such techniques and developing methods to evaluate their efficacy. Depending on the interest of the student the work could focus on one particular public health issue such as smoking, diet or exercise or the research could take a more general approach.

Can residential segregation and immobility explain the social disadvantage of sick and disabled people? 

Supervisor: Professor Donald Houston

Sickness and disability have been linked with penalties in education, employment and earnings. Yet, remarkably little is known about where sick and disabled people live or how that might contribute to these penalties. In particular, are sick and disabled people constrained to live in socially deprived or poorly-connected locations? If so, how does residential location contribute to social disadvantage? Commuting to jobs, college or university from poorly-connected locations may be an option, but equally little is known about the travel and commuting patterns of sick and disabled people. The proposed research aims to use the UK Census of Population 2011 to characterise patterns of residential settlement, segregation, mobility and commuting among sick and disabled people compared to the rest of the working age population, and how these patterns relate to education and/or employment outcomes.

Young people's transitions to adulthood

Supervisor: Dr Caroline Day

‘Youth transitions’ is a relatively new area of interest within geographies of children and youth (Worth 2009). Youth transitions are conceptualised as the events through which young people leave childhood behind to take on new roles and responsibilities as adults. The ways in which young people negotiate this critical period can have a long-term impact, with the potential to govern the nature and quality of their future lives. Culture, place and space all have a part in dictating who will go through which transitions and at what time and not all young people will follow the same lifecourse, or will go through the same transitions. This project will investigate how young people in either UK or international contexts experience transitions to adulthood, how they are influenced by increasingly challenging socio-economic climates and how this impacts on young people’s ability to pursue their own goals and aspirations across time and space.

Caring and the role of young caregivers; how caring roles both influence and impact on life transitions and future aspirations 

Supervisor: Dr Caroline Day

Studies of “young carers” have multiplied in recent years. Since the 1990s, research has documented the roles and responsibilities that children and young people undertake within families and the negative (and sometimes positive) outcomes that caring for a parent (or relative) with a disability or chronic illness may have on their transitions to “independent adulthood” such as education and employment. A focus on “children” caring for parents with a disability or chronic illness has meant the role of older youth has often been neglected in discussions of caregiving, particularly how caring influences their futures and life transitions. This project will investigate how caring responsibilities influence young people’s experiences as they grow up into adulthood. This could include how caring roles both influence and impact on young people’s futures and life transitions; the changing role of care in society; the role of informal care work in families; and the influence of class, gender and ethnicity.

The changing face of homelessness

Supervisor: Dr Caroline Day

When most people think of homelessness they picture someone sleeping on the streets. Rough sleeping remains a very visible problem, particularly in big towns and cities. Yet, the vast majority of homeless people exist out of sight - living in bed & breakfasts, hostels, or on the floors or sofas of friends and families. This ‘hidden homelessness’ is increasing in the UK. With rising housing costs, a string of cuts to benefits, and a lack affordable housing, more and more people are struggling to keep a roof above their heads. This research project will look at the changing face of homelessness in the UK. This could include youth homelessness, particularly the different issues and needs young homeless people have compared to adults; the experiences of homeless people; the aspirations of homeless people; and the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees.

The museum as a site for intergenerational interaction

Supervisor: Dr Tara Woodyer

Traditionally, research on age has been strongly compartmentalised with studies looking at either childhood and youth or old age. Research is now beginning to focus on issues surrounding intergenerational relationships, including how we best conceptualise these relationships and how different kinds of spaces can limit or facilitate contact. This shift in approach coincides with calls within policy for more age-integrated communities. As a particular kind of leisure space inviting both reflective and interactive activities, the museum is a site that might afford insights into how to cultivate intergenerational interaction. Drawing on the researcher’s links with local military museums, this research would involve participant observation of exhibition spaces and qualitative interviews with museum practitioners.


Beaumont, E and Sterry, P (2005) A study of grandparents and grandchildren as visitors to museums and art galleries in the UK, Museum and Society, 3(3): 167-180.

Vanderbeck, R (2007) Intergenerational Geographies: Age Relations, Segregation and Reengagements, Geography Compass, 1(2): 200-221.

Play in the workplace

Supervisor: Dr Tara Woodyer

Whilst play and work are commonly seen as divergent activities, play is increasingly being commodified in different kinds of work environment in relation to ideas of creativity and performance. This is readily seen in Google’s use of Lego play stations and secret rooms, TGI Friday’s use of costumed, whacky waiting staff and the playful employee-customer relations in theme parks. It is also evident in less obvious workplaces such as arctic research stations (Powell 2009). This research will use participant observation and/or qualitative interviews and/or textual analysis of company literature, and will examine the role of play in a particular workplace. This research will address questions such as: how and why does the company encourage play; what happens to play when it is commodified; what implications does the commodification of play have for workers?


Crang, P (1994) It's showtime: on the workplace geographies of display in a restaurant in southeast England, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 12(6): 675-704.

Powell, R (2009) Learning from spaces of play: recording emotional practices in High Arctic Environmental Sciences, in Smith, Davidson, Cameron and Bondi (eds) Emotion, Place and Culture, Farnham: Ashgate.

Virtual geographies: the use of gamified elements in mobile apps

Supervisor: Dr Tara Woodyer

The twenty-first century has been heralded as the “ludic century” as games and play have become the dominant cultural form of the era. Adding game elements to an application to motivate use and enhance the user experience is a growing trend known as gamification. Many of the mobile applications we now routinely engage with on our smart phones – anything from exercise apps to noise pollution monitoring apps - will have some form of gamified feature, such as game style achievements. Using a qualitative approach (involving interviews and/or focus groups and/or task based activities such as diaries), this research will examine the use of gamified features within a particular mobile app addressing questions such as: does the inclusion of game elements motivate use; does the inclusion of game elements enhance user experience; does the inclusion of game elements encourage undesirable use by certain users?

Virtual geographies: how location-based games shape engagements with physical environments

Supervisor: Dr Tara Woodyer

The rapid development of mobile computing hardware in recent years has led to devices which are not only capable of wireless data communication, but, through positioning systems like GPS, can learn about their geographical location. This combination has prompted the development of mobile location-based games (LBGs) such as Pokémon Go. These games are played in physical space, but at the same time, they are supported by actions and events in an interconnected virtual space. Using a qualitative approach, this research will examine how LBGs affect players’ perception of and behaviour in everyday spaces.

Virtual geographies: video game play from the player's perspective 

Supervisor: Dr Tara Woodyer

Videogame studies have been overwhelmingly concerned with the representational context of games. As a result, examination of the use and experience of videogames by the player has been limited. It is only recently that studies have begun to address gaming as a bodily and/or social activity. Geographers have been key in this shift of emphasis. Areas of neglect are still evident though, with studies focusing on First Person Shooter games, at the expense of other game genres. Using a qualitative approach, this research will examine a particular videogame from the player’s perspective, addressing issues such as: the role of the handset in mediating movement between virtual and non-virtual worlds, gameplay as a bodily experience, and gameplay as a social activity involving player interactions in non-virtual spaces.

Tara Woodyer is also happy to discuss other ideas for MRes research within the broad field of social and cultural geography.

The UK and the 'refugee crisis' between solidarity and rejection of asylum seekers 

Supervisor: Dr Diana Martin

More than a million migrants reached Europe seeking asylum in 2015. Many have talked about a ‘Refugee Crisis’ thinking that this mass migration and displacement is unprecedented. Others think that the language of ‘crisis’ simply reinforces the politics of containment (Pallister-Wilkins 2016) and may even justify the inhumane conditions that migrants may experience. Despite a moral obligation and responsibility in offering asylum and protection to those in need, European states’ responses have alternated reception and assistance with episodes of refoulement. The fear of the effect on public order, the impact on the thin provisions that shrunken welfare states offer, the rise of right-wing populist parties and the fear of terrorists’ infiltrations have transformed a humanitarian crisis into a security one as the language of protection seem to apply more to European citizens than those escaping war, famine and oppression.

This master programme aims to investigate UK responses to the refugee crisis. What geographies has this ‘crisis’ produced? How have local authorities and communities responded? Using qualitative methods you will investigate the different geographies that such a ‘crisis’ has produced in the UK. You will also investigate the ways in which local authorities and communities have responded.

Data warehousing and historical demography - US 1880 census analysis 

Supervisor: Professor Richard Healey

The availability of a large data warehouse of 5.27 million person level records from the US 1880 census for a number of north-eastern US states offers the possibility for several MRes projects on aspects of 19th century US historical demography. The data warehouse is a specialised database structure optimised for high-speed custom county-level aggregation of subsets of individual level records and cross-tabulation of numerous combinations of variables present in the dataset (90 + variables). This therefore opens up the dataset to much more detailed (and rapid) analysis than is possible using the digital versions of the published 1880 census tabulations, which are available from the US National Historical GIS. The focus of the chosen topic could range, for example, from a comparison of immigrant sub-populations to the demographic characteristics of occupational groupings in different industrial regions. A background in GIS and database methods will be helpful, but relevant taught units from the MSc in GIS are also available to develop skills in these areas if required.

Other Research Projects

Discover the current research projects available in each of our schools and departments: 

Please note, this list is not exhaustive and you'll need to meet and discuss the project you're interested in with a member of research staff before you apply.

This site uses cookies. Click here to view our cookie policy message.

Accept and close