Research in Human Geography MRes

The MRes Research in Human Geography is a research training Masters degree. It can provide a useful foundation for undertaking a PhD in Human Geography, or is ideal for those who want to acquire rigorous research skills more generally.

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The programme combines interdisciplinary expertise from Geography, Political Science and International Studies, and is truly multidisciplinary. Students will interact with other students from across the social sciences and thereby gain a unique breadth of academic research, teaching and key transferable skills.

The programme provides research training in theoretical, philosophical and methodological issues relevant to human geography and social science research. These include debates concerning social theory and epistemology, qualitative and quantitative techniques and their application to human geography, and research design, ethics and presentation.

The aims of the programme are:

  • To develop a deeper understanding of advanced level theoretical, philosophical and methodological debates in contemporary human geographies and related social sciences; 
  • To provide advanced training in social science research methodologies and their application in social research in general and human geography in particular
  • To develop a student's ability to communicate ideas and research effectively.

Why study this course

The MRes Research in Human Geography is intended to develop skills in critical analysis and academic research, enabling students to acquire research skills and to understand and apply research methodologies as appropriate in a human geography context, as well as the subsequent potential development of doctoral research projects.


In essence, the MRes provides rigorous research skills with a broad human geography focus. In total, it consists of four modules – the Research Project (worth 120 credits), two human geography related research modules (Doing Human Geography and Theoretical Themes for Geographers, each worth 20 credits) and a Research Design module (also worth 20 credits and available from the College of Social Science).

Research Project

The fundamental module is the Research Project. This is the main component of the MRes programme. It will provide the academic training and research-based learning in human geography.

The research project involves study within the student’s own area of interest, but within the overall context of human geography. The project will be closely supervised by a relevant member of staff and can be in any appropriate area.

The Research Project will be a maximum of 20,000 words.

Research Design

Related to the research project, the Research Design module is taken from the generic university-wide MA in Social Research. The intention is to enable students to develop an appropriate research design for their project and consider, evaluate and interpret the value of the varied forms of evidence that they may collect. Such activity would also be integrated into human geography-specific training provided through the two ‘subject-substantive’ modules (see below) offered by the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The Research Design module covers a number of different themes including i) introduction to concepts and varieties of social science research design; ii) research questions associated with design, methodology and warranting practices; iii) research claims and conclusions that can be reliably drawn from different kinds of evidence produced by different designs; iv) key design features, such as groups, timing and measurement; and v) detailed analysis of a range of research designs.

The overall intention is that students write an individual report (4,000 words; Semester 1) describing a set of research questions relevant to their own area of research (i.e. the Research Project), suggesting two or more alternate designs, and assessing these alternatives in terms of issues such as rigour, practicality, ethics, sampling, and validity.

Doing Human Geography

The Doing Human Geography module is designed to integrate theoretical perspectives and methodologies through the medium of guided student research projects. By the end of the module students are expected to have therefore developed a good grounding in methodologies in Human Geography; are able to design and write a journal style article; can appreciate the main ethical problems that are addressed by Human Geographers; have an understanding of the interplay between theory, techniques and research design; can demonstrable an ability to be able to practice critical reasoning, can apply concepts and methods to particular geographical problems and are able to exercise and demonstrate independence of thought and judgement; and finally are able to develop essential generic and transferable skills for undertaking research in Human Geography.

Assessment is via a project presentation (20%) and a 4,000 word research project proposal (80%).

Theoretical Themes for Geographers

The Theoretical Themes for Geographers module aims to provide a strong theoretical foundation for geographical research within the social sciences; to explore the use of social, cultural, political and economic theory in geographical texts; and to provide a structured space for the close reading of original texts both in geography and in the wider social sciences. Consequently, on completion of the module, students should be able to identify different theoretical approaches in geography and appreciate how these relate to broader philosophical, political and methodological stances in the social sciences; identify theoretical and methodological frameworks for their own research; and produce a review of bodies of theory relevant to their own research.

Assessment is via a 5,000-word essay (100%).

Fees and funding

Fees for 2019

  • Home/EU students £4,320 FT (£2,160 PT) 
  • International students £16,740 FT only 

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available, contact the Postgraduate Administrator on +44 (0)121 414 6935 or email International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

For further information contact the School directly or get in touch with the Funding, Graduation & Awards via the online enquiries system.

For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to eligible financial support via the Postgraduate Masters or Doctoral loan for the duration of their course. For more information visit the website.

You can also visit our EU Referendum information page for more information and updates.

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Entry requirements

Normally a 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in Geography or a related discipline.

Learn more about entry requirements

International students:

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

Standard English language requirements apply (IELTS: 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in any band)

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

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Modules are taught using a diverse blend of teaching styles and assessment formats. Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, and group discussions.

Assessment methods

Assessment formats include essays, seminar papers, individual research design report and a 20,000 word research project.

Related research

Former students have developed successful academic, business and policy-based careers (for example, in policy development, international finance and accountancy, economic development and consultancy, journalism and market research for a range of public, private and voluntary organisations). Other graduates have continued to PhD research in the School and elsewhere, such as Oxford.

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