Tuareg child

Photo description: Tuareg Child. Care by former slave girl , Mali. Source Sara Randall

masai pastoralist

Photo description: Masai pastoralist, Kenya. Source Katherine Homewood

Roasting sugar cane

Photo description: Roasting sugar cane in West Kalimantan. Source Caroline Garaway

Hives for wild bees

Photo description: Hives for wild bees being prepared by an Ongota man in SW Ethiopia. Source Jerome Lewis

The dissertation

The dissertation is a document of 15,000 words based on independent research and thought, and usually including some original analysis of data that integrates anthropological perspectives on environment and development. In most cases the dissertation will report on original data collected by the student in order to address a particular empirical question within the scope of the degree. Such a dissertation will include a literature review on other similar work demonstrating the practical or theoretical justification for this particular piece of work, a description of the methodology and appropriate analysis of the results. Other students may analyse appropriate data collected by a third party or do further analysis of published data. In a minority of cases students may do a library-based dissertation which brings together the different strands of the degree at a theoretical level. This is not usually considered to be appropriate for this MSc and will only be permitted under special circumstances after discussion with the course tutors.


September - December

  • With the help of the Masters tutor, determine possible topics & identify supervisor
  • Discuss approaches, the existence of relevant data sets & further data requirements.
  • Discuss appropriate literature searches and formulation of research proposals in order to secure funding & research permission (where appropriate).

January - March

  • Present planned dissertation research to the Human Ecology Research Group.
  • Mid term - a provisional title for the dissertation and a brief synopsis.
  • End term - detailed time plan for fieldwork (if appropriate) & research permission obtained,

April- September

  • Fieldwork or other Research (usually 8 weeks)
  • Analysis and write up.


Students will have one supervisor but may consult any other staff who teach on the MSc programme. Supervisors will be available for regular email and face to face consultation over term-time and the summer vacation, although in the latter they may be away for considerable periods and in this case programme tutors will provide back-up supervision where necessary.

Fundraising / costs of fieldwork

Whilst students will need to secure funding for their fieldwork projects themselves - (an extremely valuable skill to acquire for further professional work) - they are assisted in this task by the staff teaching on the Masters who are able to suggest possible avenues for funding and help students write research funding proposals. This is an area where the staff have considerable experience and HERG also provides a forum for discussion of funding opportunities as they arise and lists available funding opportunities on the intranet. Students from this Masters course have been extremely successful in securing funding for their fieldwork, with recent funds coming from, amongst others: The departmental Bursaries Fund; Tropical Agriculture Award Fund; Chadwick Trust: Travelling Scholarships and Fellowships; The Parkes Foundation; Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS) Postgraduate grants

A selection of recently completed MSc Dissertations


  • Wildlife Hunting in Miju Mishmi: An Indigenous Group in Arunachal Pradesh, NorthEast India. A socio-Economic and Cultural Study
  • Protectionists and the Guarani: The Village that did not exist - Socio-environmental Conflict in Southern Brazil
  • The Implications of Smallholder Cultivation of the Biofuel Crop, Jatropha Curcas, for Local Food Security and Socio-economic Development in Northern Tanzania
  • 'Raised on Sugar': The Impact of the end of the Sugar Protocol on Small Planters in Mauritius


  • Transforming Waste Into Value: Examining Resource-Recovery Practices in Mumbai
  • A Study of the Determinants of Crop Cultivation Patterns and Household Coping Strategies in the Cocoa Farming Village of Wansampo in the Western Region of Ghana
  • Lay Knowledge, Compensation and Control: A Consideration of the Factors Influencing Farmers in West Wales' Experience of Bovin Tuberculosis
  • Common Pathways of Access within the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Sector of Lake Katwe, Uganda


  • Contested Seascapes: Marine Conservation and the Challenges Facing the Inshore Fishing Fleet in Suffolk
  • Impact of the Wildfire Plan 2009-2013 in the Vesuvius National Park, Italy
  • Community Involvement in Mangrove Restoration, Guyana, South America


  • Participatory Forest Management and REDD: A Local Level Perspective from a Village in Angai Forest, Tanzania
  • New words to old songs: the changing use of development interventions in risk-coping among the Gabra of North Horr
  • Harnessing the Future: the role of working horses in Britain’s forests
  • Development in Transylvania: how a small village views the ambitions and impacts of NGOs and a local government trying to improve their lives.