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MSc Air Transport Planning and Management

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TRAN019W Research Dissertation Guidance

Please retain carefully for future reference

This document supplements the module pro forma in the course handbook.

1. Criteria for assessment

The following criteria of judgement are applied in the marking of dissertations:

  • Appropriateness of topic and research aims/objectives
  • Understanding and use of the literature
  • Suitability of the choice of research methodology
  • Competence in collecting and analysing data and information
  • Validity of conclusions and recommendations
  • Quality of the presentation and clarity of the structure

There is no allocation of marks between these, but particular emphasis is placed on the analysis of data and information i.e. original analysis is required, not just description. This may be drawn from primary and/or secondary data, as appropriate to the topic being studied.

PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU NEED TO CONDUCT YOUR OWN RESEARCH WHICH CAN BE USING PRIMARY DATA (e.g. surveys, interviews you have conducted) OR SECONDARY DATA (e.g. data sources such as ICAO, CAA, OAG) BUT YOU CANNOT PRODUCE A SUCCESSFUL DISSERTATION USING ONLY SECONDARY ANALYSIS (a review of graphs and tables produced by other people).

As for other modules, the pass mark is 50%, and distinction may be awarded for 70% upward. 60% to 69% constitutes ‘merit’. The weighting given to the dissertation also means that the mark given for it has a major effect on the overall level of MSc degree that may be awarded. Due to the increasing number of MSc Air Transport students, only dissertations graded at 60 and above will in future be placed in the library.

The mark allocated to the dissertation module comprises one-third of all course credits (60 out of 180).

2. Sequence of work

Selection of a title should be made at the earliest convenient stage. This enables work to commence in good time to locate data sources, arrange surveys (where required), fix meetings, etc. Informal discussions with each student will be arranged by the course leader, who will direct students to appropriate colleagues with specialist knowledge as required. For full-time students submitting in September 2021 a choice should be finalised during February 2021 and you will be allocated a dissertation supervisor at this time.

3. Informal research plan

Students are encouraged to produce a plan of their research (in liaison with your supervisor) at an early stage of the process. Some or all of the following aspects might be covered:

  1. Current working title (this may be amended in the final version submitted)
  2. Main aims
  3. The proposed methodology of the research
  4. A summary of evidence gathered so far for the literature review, e.g. papers/documents read, statistical sources identified.
  5. Contacts made (and/or planned) with organisations from which data is being sought, consent to conduct surveys, etc.  Secondary data to be used.
  6. If surveys are planned, main topics to be covered in any questionnaire, structured interview format, etc., and the manner in which a sample will be obtained. Any survey results already available.
  7. Main chapter headings.

We realise that in some cases the final version of the dissertation may differ from the plan (for example, due to data availability, or consent to carry out surveys). The intention at this stage is that the plan provides evidence of a clearly thought out approach, on which further work will be based. The plan is not formally assessed.

4. Later stages of work

Meetings should be arranged at mutually convenient times between student and supervisor, including the holiday periods. It is essential to make sure that no deadlines are missed. Please ensure that the supervisor is kept informed of your holiday plans, and any changes of contact details. Your supervisor will also inform you of any prolonged times when they will be unavailable.

An intermediate progress report will be required by the Module Leader around early July (date to be notified). You must confirm that you have completed your ethics application by this time before you can progress to the remaining stages.

Adequate time should be allowed for drafts to be read by the supervisor, and for any corrections to be made, allowing time for word processing and binding. Problems at this stage are minimised by completing the work on a chapter-by-chapter basis, so that only the concluding parts would be subject to any major change. Bear in mind that the project may be read by an external examiner who will be an air transport academic or professional, but not necessarily a specialist in the specific field in which you are working. Text and diagrams should be set out clearly, so as to be understood by a third party who has not been involved in earlier stages of the work.

It is also very useful to save each stage of your work in a secure form (e.g. back-up on USB, or hard disk), especially if using a laptop, so that problems arising from substantial loss of material at a later stage can be avoided. There always seems to be at least one student every year that loses critical material so please don’t fall into that category!

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