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Dissertation research topics

Dissertation research topics

The central feature of the MPhil in Polar Studies is the 20,000 word dissertation, undertaken within the context of the research agenda of one of the Institute's research groups.

These topics are examples of the types of research undertaken by recent MPhil students; this should not be viewed as an exhaustive list, and supervisors and the Course Director welcome enquiries about possible dissertation topics.

In all cases, applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their interests with the potential supervisor before applying. In the Social Sciences and Humanities, we will also consider applications from students with their own proposals, provided they fit within the research and supervisory interests of Institute staff. In the Physical Sciences, we will also consider applications from students with their own proposals, provided those proposals fit within the overall research agenda of the Institute. In such cases, it is vital to discuss your ideas with your potential supervisor.

Examples of recent dissertation titles are available.

Possible Projects: Social Sciences and Humanities

Histories, Cultures, Environments and Politics

Supervisors: Dr Michael Bravo (MTB), Dr Richard Powell (RCP)

  • Northern Indigenous rights and governance
  • Arctic governance and geopolitics
  • Constructions of region and territory in the polar regions
  • Inuit historiography, orality and traditional knowledge
  • Scientific practice and knowledge production
  • Histories of polar science and exploration
  • Scientific travel in the 20th century
  • Cultural studies of the polar regions
  • Sovereignty and states in the Arctic

Possible projects: Physical Sciences Strand

Glacier and ice sheet processes

Supervisors: Dr Neil Arnold (NSA), Dr Poul Christoffersen (PC), Prof Julian Dowdeswell (JD), Dr Gareth Rees (WGR), Dr Ian Willis (ICW)

  • Topography, roughness, surface radiation and change, Langjökull, Iceland (NSA, WGR, ICW)
  • Sedimentation in Antarctic subglacial lakes (NSA, JD, ICW)
  • Testing a 1D energy balance model for supraglacial snowpacks (NSA, ICW)
  • Airborne radar investigations of Canadian Arctic ice caps (JAD, PC)
  • Exploration of icy environments in a cold room laboratory (PC)
  • Flow sensitivity in Greenland outlet glaciers (PC)
  • Ice-ocean interactions in the Arctic (PC)
  • Sedimentary processes in a subglacial palaeolake (PC, ICW)
  • Permafrost decay in the Arctic (PC, JD)

Glacimarine Sedimentation: Processes and Patterns

Supervisor: Prof. Julian Dowdeswell

  • Glacier-influenced sedimentation in Arctic fjords
  • Ice-stream delivery of sediments to Arctic continental margins
  • Sedimentary processes and patterns on the Antarctic continental shelf
  • Geophysical investigations of the continental slope offshore of large ice sheets

Polar landscapes and remote sensing

Supervisor: Dr Gareth Rees

  • Variability and change in circumarctic snow cover
  • Location, characterisation and dynamics of the arctic treeline
  • Circumarctic phenology
  • Snowlab: citizen science meets snow hydrology
  • Satellite-based digital elevation models for glacier mass balance