I have enjoyed researching your question. I have tried to organize my
answer in a way that corresponds to the order of your specific
Part 1 of your question: Research Topics
When I was preparing to write my masters thesis I found it very
useful to look at other research being conducted in my discipline.
For example, you might find that a current study being conducted in
Canada has implications youd like to explore in the U.K.
Searching through various abstracts I found these research topics:
A very hot topic seems to be community involvement in planning for
For example, this citation is for an interesting article on outdoor
recreation and democracy via local access forums
Some other examples:
Tourist support for Marine Protection in Vietnam, tourism as a means
of funding protection of environment
This assessment and planning project in Canada involves democratic
participation in planning protection of wilderness
Participatory democracy, representative democracy, and the nature of
diffuse and concentrated interests: a case study of public involvement
on a national forest district.
By: Overdevest, Christine. 2000. Society & Natural Resources.
Another topic area is the Social Dimensions of Environmental policy:
Making nature conservation modern: an analysis of developments in
nature conservation policy in relation to macro-social changesthe
Netherlands as a case study.
By: Rientjes, Sandra. 2002. Journal of Environmental Policy and
Planning. 4(1): 1-21
Recreation and the environment as cultural dimensions in contemporary
By: Cordell, H. Ken; Green, Gary T.; and Betz, Carter J. 2002..
Leisure Sciences. 24(1):13-41.
The social value of wilderness: a Forest Service prospective.
By: Cordell, Ken and Stokes, Jerry. 2000. Journal of Wilderness, 6(2):
Assessing socioeconomic impacts of climate change on US forests,
wood-product markets, and forest recreation.
By: Irland, Lloyd C.; Adams, Darius; Alig, Ralph; Betz, Carter J.;
Chen, Chi-Chuang; and others. 2001. BioScience. 51(9):753-764.
Another area of interest is Ecotourism and visitor impact on protected
You might have a look at these case studies:
Other examples of dissertations and postgraduate student research:
If you go to the websites you may be able to write to the authors for
Wilkinson, C. J. A. 2002. Biodiversity Conservation in Ontario: An
Examination of Legislation and Government Policy. Doctor of Philosophy
Dissertation. Department of Geography, Faculty of Environmental
Studies, University of Waterloo. Unpublished. 283 pp.
Rogers, R. A. and C. J. A. Wilkinson. 2000. "Policies of Extinction:
The Life and Death of Canada's Endangered Species Legislation
(1996-97)," Symposium on Canadian Environmental Policy, Policy Studies
Wilkinson, C. J. A. 2002. "Ecosystem Fragmentation in Ontario: Using
Corridors in Protected Areas Planning," in J. Porter and J. G. Nelson
(eds.), Ecological Integrity and Protected Areas. Proceedings of the
2001 Parks Research Forum of Ontario Conference. Waterloo, ON:
Heritage Resources Centre, pp. 123-132.
Climate Change and Canada's National Park System.
By Daniel Scott
University of Guelph School of Rural Planning and Development
Student Research, various topics on tourism and environmental planning
These are the journals from which I found many of the topics listed
Journal of Environmental Planning and Management:
You can search each volume for abstracts, though you must register for
a fee to see the entire articles online. You might check to see if
your university library carries this journal.
Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning. Again, you might check
if your library carries this journal because only title articles are
available on line for free.
Part 2 of your question:
I asked where you were studying because most schools have specific
formats they require for Masters dissertations. Your department does
not publish that format online; however, the University of Cardiff
website says that you can procure the University of Wales Submission
Forms and Procedure from your department.
Ultimately your research supervisor is responsible for directing how
you format your research.
That said, however, I researched dissertation formats from other
universities in the U.K and the U.S. and found that the basic
framework is fairly consistent throughout academia. The basic outline
is as follows:
Abstract: provide a short overview of the work in your project
Table of contents
List of tables, figures (if applicable)
Introduction: First you want to address what motivates your
Why did you conduct the research, what is the problem that is being
Then you want to describe your research:
What do you hope to achieve or demonstrate?
Literature Review: Then relate your research to related projects
in your field:
This section is generally known as the literature review. Youll want
to demonstrate that youve read the literature in your field. Discuss
current trends and theories. Make sure to have plenty of citations.
Then discuss how your research improves upon current research by
others and how it contributes to your discipline.
Methods: Next you want to explain your research methods/design.
Why did you decide on these methods? How do they address your
For example, when I wrote my dissertation I used subject interviews
and content analysis. I had to provide a list of the questions I
used, provide evidence of the validity of the interview method (by
citing articles that also used the interview technique), and
demonstrate that content analysis was an appropriate method for
answering my research question. I referred to several methodology
guides specific to my discipline.
Results: Then youll want to present the results/data of your
Analysis: Then discuss/analyze the results/data of your research.
In other words, what does the data you collected mean? Do your
results demonstrate what you started out to demonstrate? This is
also where you want to discuss any problems you had and explain any
unexpected occurrences, outliers, etc.
In some cases the presentation of results and analysis sections can
be combined into one section. This will depend on your supervisors
Conclusion: In your conclusion you will sum up your research
This section is also where youll want to address issues in need of
further research. For example, you may have come across something
unexpected in your research that you cannot address in your
dissertation. Address this as something you plan to look at in the
future and briefly describe how you plan to do so.
Youll also want to reiterate how your research has contributed to
your field. Does it support a well known theory, or point out
problems with someone elses research?
References: This section is just as important as the previous
sections. Be sure to include all citations in the proper format
required by your discipline. I have seen many faculty members go
directly to the reference page before even reading the dissertation.
The reference section immediately informs readers of your familiarity
with your topic and the amount of work you have dedicated to your
Appendices: This section generally includes tables, figures, or
other materials depending on the preferences of your supervisor. For
example, my supervisor preferred that I list my interview questions
and tables in an appendix rather than in the body of the text.
Part 3 of question
There are several ways you can link your masters research to your
Ph.D. research. For example:
1. If you conducted a single case study for your masters
dissertation, expand your project to include a comparative analysis of
several cases for your doctoral project.
I wrote my masters thesis on one type of womens organization in
Central America. For my doctoral dissertation I expanded to include 5
different types of organizations.
Perhaps you will write your masters on resource management in
national parks in Wales. For your Ph.D. you might expand to include
national parks in England and Scotland.
2. If you look only at national parks for your masters, expand to
include wetlands and coastlines for your doctoral work.
3. If you use one type of research method in your masters research,
broaden your methods for the Ph.D.
For example, if you use qualitative methods in one, expand and add
statistical or other quantitative analyses.
The PhD proposal
The format for the PhD proposal resembles that of the masters
dissertation, except that the proposal will obviously be shorter.
Another major difference is that the dissertation discusses what you
did. The proposal discusses what you will do in future tense.
Introduction: Overview of project
Statement of Research question/problem:
What are you going to do? Organize your research around a set
of research questions that inform the reader of what you
intend to do
and how your project is related to other research in your
do you expect to find?
Demonstrate that you are prepared and familiar with the current
research in your discipline by citing relevant literature.
How and where do you propose to do your research. What methods will
Conclusion: Sum up your project
References: Again, you want to provide a comprehensive list of
This site offers guidance in preparing the proposal and dissertation
Recreation and Tourism Research Methods Links
The following two cites are dissertation guidebooks. They are not for
your discipline but, as I said before, the basic framework largely
remains the same across disciplines.
History Department, University of Bangor
School of History and Archaeology, University of Glasglow
These are some proposals you might want to look at as examples:
Rachel Lannacone, Dissertation Proposal
Open Space for the Underclass: New York City's Small Parks
Mel Willis, Dissertation Proposal Abstract
An Approach to Characterizing Community Health Risk Exposure to
Hazardous Air Pollutants from Alternative City Land Use Planning
Successful Dissertations and Theses: A Guide to Graduate Student
Research from Proposal to Completion
By David Madsen
Writing the Doctoral Dissertation: A Systematic Approach
2nd edition, 1997
by Gordon B. Davis, Clyde A. Parker,
Barrons Educational Series
Writing the Winning Dissertation: A Step by Step Guide
by Allan Glatthorn
I hope this is helpful. If you require additional assistance please
request an answer clarification and allow me to respond before ratng