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Land Economy (by thesis)

Introduction

To undertake an extensive piece of original research in just one year can be a particularly challenging option and the Department will not admit students to it unless it can be satisfied that they have the necessary research skills, together with a clear vision of their topic and a good grasp of the appropriate methodology to explore it. The 'by thesis' option is unusual for a research degree in specifying a submission deadline and in not allowing for resubmission should the necessary standard fail to be achieved in the examination. Candidates are therefore encouraged to start their research as early as possible.

Applicants are requested to enclose with their application an outline of their proposed research, setting out their objectives and proposed methodology. Before offering a place for the 'by thesis' option, the Department will need to be satisfied that the proposal is one that can be undertaken satisfactorily by the candidate and that it can provide an appropriate supervisor. In some cases, it may suggest that the candidate consider opting instead for the instructional degree course (MPhil in Land Economy Research) in order to build up broader research skills.

Once in the Department, all students on this course play a full part in the graduate programme. They are in any event required to attend and participate in either or both of the quantitative and mixed research methods courses. They are also encouraged to participate in any of the other relevant taught MPhil modules and the Department’s Research Management Programme.

Their vital link, however is with their supervisor. The supervisor assumes professional responsibility for guiding the student's research.

Student numbers and research interests

The Department has tended to admit between 5 and 10 students each year to the MPhil in Land Economy (by thesis). Research topics in recent years have included the following:

  • English and Welsh rivers: a common law approach to pollution prevention.
  • European Monetary Union: an analysis of the potential costs and benefits of UK participation.
  • The demand for office space in Central London since the early 1980's: The property cycle as usual or permanent structural change.
  • The architectural and social effects of zoning policies: an historical investigation of the Grosvenor estate's developmental methodology.
  • Retail planning and the development industry in England with special reference to out of town retail development.
  • The application of capital budgeting techniques to commercial property development procedures.
  • Environmental contamination and pesticides: Farm decision-making and policy.
  • The 'Plan-led System': Its consequences for the production and content of local plans.
  • Property valuations: A reliable basis for performance measurement.
  • Land Registration in Ghana.
  • The European Mortgage Market.
  • Formalities in land transactions.

Approval of title

Each student's subject of research is approved provisionally by the Degree Committee when the student is accepted. It can be revised subsequently, but has to be finally approved by the Degree Committee in the Lent Term (normally in February). The Degree Committee will also then appoint examiners and approve the submission date for the thesis, which is normally the end of August.  It is customary to appoint one internal examiner (who will not be the supervisor, and will not normally have had any direct involvement with the research), and one external examiner who is a recognised expert in the field of the research.

The word limit

The word limit for the MPhil in Land Economy thesis is between 28,000 and 30,000 words. The regulations do not allow for the word limit to be increased or exceeded.

Examination of the thesis

Examiners are required to satisfy themselves that:

  • the thesis is clearly written;
  • it takes account of previously published work on the subject; and
  • it represents a contribution to learning.

A candidate may be required to make minor amendments and corrections to the thesis as a condition for approval for the degree. However, there is no provision for allowing a candidate to submit a revised thesis in the event that the examiners are not satisfied that it has reached the required standard.

Oral examination

The University's regulations require that an oral examination be held in all cases. Its purpose is to ensure that the work is truly that of the candidate, and to pursue and test arguments which the examiners have found to be unclear or of particular interest. The date and venue of the oral examination is chosen by the examiners. Since the thesis need not be submitted until the end of August, the earliest examination date is normally towards the end of September. Candidates must ensure that they will be available at this time to attend the oral examination. They will be informed of the arrangements by the Graduate Secretary.

Every effort is made to ensure that the results of the examination can be notified to candidates by the Board of Graduate Studies early in October.

Progress to the PhD

MPhil candidates wishing to pursue a PhD with the Department may apply to continue as a Graduate Student via the Board of Graduate Studies.  Each application is considered carefully by the Department and by the Degree Committee. Approval of an application will depend on three criteria:

  • availability of a supervisor;
  • the approval by the Degree Committee of a research proposal; and
  • the achievement of a minimum overall mark and minimum dissertation mark in the MPhil examination as prescribed by the Degree Committee.

Full details of the application procedure for continuing students are given on the Graduate Admissions Office website. Students wishing to continue are advised to apply early in the academic year and to be aware that funding deadlines are also often early in the applications cycle.  In all cases, approval to continue is subject to the final examinations results and approval from the Degree Committee.

Course Director

The Course Director for the MPhil in Land Economy (by thesis) is Dr. Andreas Kontoleon (ak219@cam.ac.uk). Dr. Kontoleon is available to discuss with students specific issues about the content of the MPhil in Land Economy (by thesis).

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