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Unit information: Earth Science Research Methods in 2021/22

Unit name Earth Science Research Methods
Unit code EASCM0063
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Kohn
Open unit status Not open

Completion of years 1-3 of MSci courses in the School of Earth Sciences


EASCM0010 Earth Science Research Project

School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

The aim of this 20 credit point unit is to provide students with background knowledge and understanding of the specialism they have chosen for their final year research project (EASCM0010).

The unit will comprise:

1. A literature review. This to be broader than the specific subject of the research and should not refer forward to research plans.

2. A research proposal. The aim is to explain:

  • What are the specific questions being investigated?
  • What is the significance of the expected outcome?
  • What methods will be used?
  • What progress has been made so far? Include pilot data (if any available) to support the proposal.
  • Where and when will each step of the proposed work be performed (include a timeline for the project).

3. A non-technical summary of the project that could be readily understood by an interested 14 year old

4. A risk assessment.

The unit will be assessed on a single submission that includes all of points 1-4.

The project supervisors will provide close advice and assistance in exploring the literature and planning the proposed project.

Broad aims of unit:

  • to develop student’s ability to synthesise relevant literature
  • to familiarise students with the specific techniques required for EASCM0010
  • to develop and practice written communication skills
  • to extend abilities in planning and executing research to a high standard

Intended Learning Outcomes

The exact ILOs will depend on the exact nature of the chosen project, but typically will include all of the following.

Knowledge and Understanding of:

  • new research approaches to existing Earth Sciences subdisciplines, or creation of new research endeavours in earth science, often of an interdisciplinary nature.

Intellectual Skills/Attributes. Able to:

  • critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (often incomplete), to frame appropriate questions and make judgements, to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions - to a problem.
  • make sound observations, collect data and information from a variety of sources to undertake critical synthesis and interpretation.
  • act independently and in a team, in planning, researching backgrounds and undertaking tasks.
  • show originality in the application of knowledge and understanding in the planning and conduct of a research project.
  • appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge.
  • be able to develop and sustain arguments in the analysis and solving of problems
  • be involved in advancing knowledge and understanding through research.

Other Skills /Attributes (Practical/Professional/Transferable). 'Able to:

  • apply taught methods and techniques to safely handle, identify and interpret a broad range of Earth materials (minerals, rocks, fossils and maps) in the laboratory and in the field.
  • make sound observations, record, collect, analyse and interpret field and laboratory data of a variety of forms and using a variety of techniques.
  • apply subject knowledge, understanding and skills in interpreting, analysing and solving geological problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature.
  • initiate, plan, execute and report on geological laboratory and field investigations.
  • produce persuasive and logically-structured documents and talks that are appropriate to the target audience.
  • retrieve information and data using library and on-line resources and where appropriate manipulate data confidently and accurately using algebra, graphs, error analysis, logarithms and exponentials, trigonometry, vectors, calculus and statistics.
  • efficiently use various relevant software packages.
  • evaluate one's own progress and performance.
  • manage time and work to meet deadlines for independent and team work.
  • manage one's own learning environment by identification of, and working towards, academic and personal targets and career development.
  • understand the need for continual training of a professional or equivalent nature.
  • present oneself well to potential employers and/or research supervisors.

Teaching Information

Independent work under the supervision of a member of academic staff

Assessment Information

Coursework 100%, comprising

1. Literature review (60%) – 3500 words

2. Research Proposal (30%) – 2000 words

3. Non-technical summary (5%) – 300 words

4. Risk assessment (5%) – filling in a UoB proforma


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EASCM0063).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.