• October 12th, 2017

Political conflict over declining water levels in Lake Victoria (Uganda)

Paper , Order, or Assignment Requirements


– This essay is particularly around Natural Resource Management and that’s what the topic and essay must reflect.

STEP 1. Choose a topic – a resource management issue – that interests you. Here you might consider the different types of ‘issues’ we have talked about in the lectures (and reading materials) and draw from your own understanding/experiences (where relevant). Keep in mind, you will need to find an issue which can be examined through a ‘local’ or ‘regional’ scale – for example, something like the Murray-Darling Basin or ‘Pacific Fisheries’ is quite large, with many competing complex issues. Therefore, while you might begin highlighting how the Murray-Darling Basin is a complex resource management arena, you would need to narrow your essay topic towards more regional/localised issue(s) for further examination. Choosing a topic will require a broad scan of the academic materials to see ‘what is out there’.

STEP 2: SEEK INFORMATION. Undertake extensive, in-depth research on your topic. Here you are required to draw from a wide variety of sources – however, a significant proportion of your sources MUST be derived from scientific/academic papers or academic textbooks.

STEP 3: Evaluate your source material – think critically about your evidence (i.e. journal article, book chapter etc.) regarding its quality, credibility, usefulness. Then consider what viewpoint are the authors advocating? Does it use a particular theoretical framing? Ask yourself, how comprehensive have I been in my search for appropriate material? Are other evidence sources missing – would be useful?

For further information, I highly recommend you review the Communicating in Geography and Environmental Sciences by Iain Hay. This is a very useful resource

STEP 4: Once you have collated all your relevant material/evidence – you are required to organise and analyse. From all the different sources you have found consider whether (i) are there similar findings? (ii) whether two or three key topics/issues keep arising; (iii) look for similar or divergent patterns among different information sources/authors. Here your analysis will be looking to draw on some of the key conceptual frameworks and ideas that have been discussed in the first six weeks (i.e. socio-ecological systems framework) – here you are showcasing how you can apply this thinking to your resource issue to help answer/inform your research question.

STEP 5: Now you have undertaken your analysis you need to consider the structure of your essay. This will involve writing an engaging introduction which positions the essay topic. You will broadly introduce the context of the issue or problem in question. The body of your work will focus on some of the dominant themes/issues you have identified from your research. Do note that not all the things need to (or should be) direct covered in the essay – indeed, if there is too many points to cover, then you might consider the strategic use of tables/figures to help get across the complexity of your topic (and Tables/Figures aren’t included in the word count! – bonus). In the context of your selected issue and case study, your essay should focus on one of the following:

a debate in the science evaluating what the issue is;
a debate of values over what the problem is;
a debate over evidence of what actions are effective for managing the problem; or
a debate between ideologies or opinions about what the best management approach is (whether between interest groups involved in the issue or between outside observers and academics).
Don’t forget you need to bring your essay to a conclusion by bringing together all the points you raise in the essay – this is not simply a relisting of the topics you covered, but an opportunity to demonstrate a critical/analytical assessment/reflection of the issues and the ensuing debates. Perhaps you can arrive at a suggested way forward…(food for thought…).

STEP 6. Create a MAP which outlines/describes (visually) your resource management issue (really this should be considered throughout the research essay!!). The point of the map is to represent the spatial nature of the issue (i.e. where is the ‘community’ in relation to the forest where it cuts trees? Where is the water pipeline or the proposed dredging area in relation to the topography or the distribution of endemic frogs?

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