Research Project ERM


Course Objective

The main objectives of the RP are:
1. To further develop and apply the key concepts, theories and
methodologies taught in previous ERM courses in a specific environmental
or resource context.
2. To independently develop and execute scientific research of societal
3. To reflect on matters and issues in the chosen domain of
environmental and resource management, and is able to form an opinion
and contribute to both scientific and practitioner’s discussions.
4. To present and discuss research findings in a meeting with peers.
5. To independently write a report on the research and its findings in
an academic style.

A RP is carried out individually and independently under supervision of
an appointed supervisor and after approval of the RP Work Plan by the

Course Content

In the Research Project (RP) course of the ERM programme, the student
will individually carry out a research project at one of the research
groups at the VU University Amsterdam or externally at another
university or (inter-)governmental organisation, a non-governmental
organisation, or company. All non-VU organisations are hereafter
referred to as external organisation.
The study credits for the course are 18 ECTS, which equals 63 days of
work full-time (i.e. 8 hours a day). The RP course starts on 1 April
2020 and the final report has to be submitted online for assessment on
the 30th of June 2020.

The student identifies the subject of his or her RP before the start of
the Research Design course preceding the RP course, including a suitable
supervisor and (optional) placement, which fits the interests of the
student and,
in case of an external placement, those of the external organization.
The collaboration between student and supervisor is formalized in
an Agreement Form. During the Research Design course the Work Plan
of the RP is written. Like the Agreement Form, this Work Plan is
submitted online via Form Desk to the RP supervisor for approval
before the start of the RP.

Teaching Methods

During the RP, communication and information exchange between the
student and supervisor is paramount to ensure the RP develops according
to plan. This may happen via in person consultations, e-mail, skype or
telephone. When you prepare your Work Plan you should make clear how and
how often you will communicate and exchange information about your
progress with your supervisor. Make sure that both you and your
supervisor are content with the arrangement and that you, as a student,
are confident that you will get enough feedback to do your research
properly and in time.
To ensure that meetings with your supervisor are efficient , it may help
to have a clear agenda, prepare the subject(s) you wish to discuss in
advance and make a short report of the meeting (definition of actions
and decisions taken, appointment for next meeting) and send this to your
supervisor after the meeting. This is especially important when you are
going abroad for a certain part of the RP.

Method of Assessment

The ERM RP and the final report will be assessed by both the supervisor
and an independent second assessor via an online Assessment Form (see
Annex E). The second assessor is appointed by the RP coordinator. The
assessment follows a double blinded peer review procedure. This means
that neither student nor supervisor will know beforehand the identity of
the second assessor.
The assessment of the RP will be based on the following three
1.Final Report (80% of the total grade based upon five categories):
a) Introduction and framing of the study (15%)
The extent to which the problem that the study tries to address is
clearly described, the research is interdisciplinary and clearly
positioned within the existing research on the topic, the research
question is clear, relevant and appropriate given the problem statement,
and the novelty and originality of the research question and/or research
methodology, is clearly defined and justified.
b) Methodology of the study (20%)
The extent to which the chosen research methodology is appropriate to
the research problem at hand, the research method is well described, and
correctly applied.
c) Presentation of results and discussion (35%)
The extent to which the report clearly and correctly conveys the
research results to the reader, the tables and figures are of sufficient
quality, the information was gathered from a variety of sources and was
critically scrutinized, shows sensitivity to the complexity of the
research, and appropriately deals with assumptions and uncertainties.
d) Conclusions and abstract (15%)
The extent to which the conclusions answer the research question (and
sub- questions), are supported by the research, grasp the main points
and provide a clear take-home message, and give useful recommendations
(scientific and/or societal). The abstract is informative and conforms
to the rules.
e) Coherence and formatting (15%)
The extent to which the report is logically structured, in-text
citations and the bibliography are consistent, complete and in proper
format, the language is appropriate for a scientific report, and
grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct.

The final report is evaluated by the student’s supervisor and an
independent second assessor based on the criteria above.

2.Execution (10% of total grade)
•Degree of independence with which the student carried out the RP
•Communication with supervisor: keeping appointments and handling of
•Time management

The way the student executed the RP is evaluated by the student’s
supervisor based on the criteria above.

3.Oral presentation (10% of total grade)
•Content: clear, understandable story line
•Narrative techniques: captivating way of presenting (voice, gestures,
involving audience)
•Use of audio-visual devices (Power Point, Film)
•Debating capacities (handling of questions)
•Time management (within the allocated 20 minutes).
The presentation is evaluated by the student’s supervisor based on the
criteria above.

Note: A no-show of the student for the scheduled presentation, without
prior notice and/or valid reason, means a fail (grade 0). An attendance
list will be used to check if all students attend the presentations of
their fellow students. Attendance is mandatory.

4.Attitude (insufficient/sufficient/good)
This criterion has to be sufficient in order to get a grade and refers
to a student’s general work attitude in the RP, motivation and
The student’s attitude is evaluated by the supervisor based on the
student’s performance during the entire RP period.

The assessment of the RP is partly based on the final report (80%),
execution (10%) and presentation (10%). For all three components the
student has to have a score of at least 6.0. Also the attitude has to be
sufficient in order to be able to pass the course. Numerical grades for
the different components are given using one decimal point. The final
grade is rounded to a half or whole decimal point.
The grading of the final report is based on the five criteria mentioned
Here no minimum limits to the grading apply as long as the
overall grade is 6.0 or higher. Presentation of the results and
discussion is considered
most important and is therefore given the highest weight (35%),
followed by methodology (20%), and introduction and framing of the study
conclusions and abstract (15%), and coherence and formatting (15%).
The final grade consists of a weighted average of the grades given by
the supervisor
and the independent second assessor. The second assessor
only evaluates the final report based on the same criteria as the
supervisor. Both have to grade the final report as 6.0 or higher. The
assessment of the final report by the supervisor is given more weight
(70%) than the assessment of the second assessor (30%) in view of the
fact that the supervisor has more in-depth knowledge and information
about the student’s abilities and the writing of the final report.
If one of the two grades the final report lower than 6.0 or the
difference in grading is more than 2 points, a third assessor is
appointed by the RP coordinator following the same double blinded review
procedure and asked to evaluate the final report. The grade of the third
assessor is in that case decisive in the final outcome of the
assessment. Hence, if also the third assessor grades the final report
lower than 6.0, this results in an overall fail for the RP. If the
grading by supervisor and second assessor was higher than 6.0 but
resulted in a difference of more than 2 points, the final grade is
established by taking the mean of the grades given by the second and
third assessor and giving this a weight of 30% in the final grade.

All students have to present their work to their supervisor and fellow
students in a public meeting and submit their final report by the 30th
of June 2020. If the final grade of the assessment is lower than 6.0 the
student has the opportunity to revise and resubmit the final report
within 30 days before the 31st of July 2020, after which the report will
be evaluated once again by the supervisor and an independent second
assessor. Not submitting the final report in time before or on 30 June
2020 means a no show and hence a fail (grade is 0). Students only have
the opportunity for a resit if they submit their final report before the
deadline of 30 June 2020. If the grade of the component “Oral
is below 6.0 the student is allowed to do another presentation before
the 31th of July
in agreement with the supervisor. If the grade of the component
is lower than 6.0 the student shall draft a critical self-reflection on
his or her
performance and formulate a plan for improvement and submit this to the
supervisor before the 31th of July. The maximum grade for a resit is

Entry Requirements

In order to be allowed to start the ERM Research Projects course,
students must have participated in the courses Research Methods (AM_
1135) and Research Design (AM_1136) and obtained a minimum of 18 ECTS
in the ERM by the 31st of March 2020.


The literature review is depending on the subject and the option

Additional Information

The Research Placement is subject to the FALW Work Placement and
Thesis Regulations. These regulations require detailed written
agreements between supervisor and student that specify the conditions
for the Research Project. Please consult the Faculty's website for more

Recommended background knowledge

Students are strongly recommended to have followed: Environmental
Economics (AM_468020) and Environmental Policy (AM_468021)

General Information

Course Code AM_468017
Credits 18 EC
Period Ac. Year (sept)
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. ir. O.J. Kuik
Teaching Staff dr. ir. O.J. Kuik

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar