Biological Sciences Capstone: Investigating the Effect of Neonicotinoid Pesticides on Bee Colonies
An honours student in the Biological Sciences program studied the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honeybee colonies. She designed an experiment to monitor the health and productivity of bee colonies exposed to different levels of neonicotinoids through ingestion of pollen and nectar. Over the course of a year, she recorded colony population levels, weighed honey yields, and analyzed pollen samples to measure pesticide residue levels. Her findings provided insights into how commonly used pesticides may be harming bee populations and wider ecosystem health. The student presented her work at a campus research symposium and published a paper in the University’s student research journal.
Business Management Capstone: Strategic Plan for Expanding an Independent Bookstore Chain
A final year Business Management student completed a capstone project developing a three-year strategic plan for a small regional bookstore chain to support expanding into new locations. Through competitive analysis, market research, and financial forecasting, the student evaluated the opportunities and risks associated with different expansion options. The recommended strategy focused on opening two new stores in adjacent towns, increasing the online presence, and developing a book club membership program. The bookstore owners were impressed with the thoughtful analysis and have started implementing aspects of the strategic plan.
Computer Science Capstone: Development of an Accessible Mobile App for Organizing Volunteer Events
A Computer Science student developed a mobile application over the course of their final year that allows organizations to easily list upcoming volunteer opportunities and allows individuals to browse, sign-up, and receive reminders for events. The capstone focused on designing an intuitive interface following principles of accessible and inclusive design. User testing was conducted with organizations as well as volunteers with varying needs and abilities. The open-source application has now been adopted by multiple local charities and received praise for lowering barriers to community participation. The project was highlighted at a disability advocacy conference for its efforts to promote digital inclusion.
English Literature Capstone: Representations of Madness in Victorian Detective Fiction
Through a close reading of short stories and novels from the late 19th century, an English Literature student analyzed how descriptions of mental illness in authoritative detectives both reinforced and challenged prevalent notions of criminality and social deviance. The capstone examined the semiotic role of madness within the emerging genre of crime fiction and how these texts navigated debates around institutionalization, spiritualism, and psychological theories of the time. The student was commended for their insightful literary analysis as well as consideration of wider historical and cultural contexts. Their research was published in the department’s undergraduate journal.
History Capstone: An Oral History of Essex Dock Workers
For their final year project, a History student conducted a series of in-depth interviews with retired dock workers from the ports of Harwich and Felixstowe who had been employed during the post-WWII period of industrial development. The aim was to capture personal memories and perspectives on the working conditions, labor unions, impact of technological changes as well as cultural and social life in Essex’s dock communities during the mid-20th century. By preserving these first-hand accounts through audio recordings, transcripts and a published essay, the capstone helped document this recent piece of local maritime industrial history that might otherwise be lost.
Psychology Capstone: Evaluating a School-Based Program for Promoting Emotional Intelligence in Adolescents
A Psychology student evaluated the effectiveness of a pilot social-emotional learning program through mixed-methods research at a local secondary school. Quantitative data was collected using pre- and post-testing of students’ emotional intelligence and well-being. Qualitative interviews were also conducted with teachers, support staff and adolescents to understand experiences of the program. Results showed significant gains in self-reported emotional skills, though certain components proved more engaging than others. Recommendations were made to adapt future rollout based on the integrated findings. The capstone provided valuable insight for improving social and emotional development services within the education system.
These represent just a small sample of the diverse final-year research projects undertaken by University of Essex students across different disciplines. The capstone allows undergraduates to demonstrate self-directed learning through independently investigating a topic of personal interest and relevance. It provides authentic experiences of planning, project management and communicating findings that mimic real-world work environments. The capstone showcases the multifaceted skills and knowledge students gain from their studies in bringing together theory and practice to address issues within their chosen field.