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Unit information: Research Project Planning for MSci in Biology/Zoology in 2015/16

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Unit name Research Project Planning for MSci in Biology/Zoology
Unit code BIOLM0020
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Rands
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

Students choose or are allocated a topic, and work closely within a research group to plan their field-based or laboratory research, putting into practice many of the transferable skills learned in Professional Development for Life Science (BIOLM0015) or in other professional development units. They are introduced to academic research culture through a series of laboratory tours and seminar sessions with both members of the department and visiting academics. They may plan to undertake their project as a placement outside the School of Biological Sciences, in which case they will work at this planning stage with two advisors: one outside the School and one academic within the school. The aims are for students to learn successful planning of a project, including understanding and summarising the literature, planning experimental design and statistics, planning data collection, and considering logistics, ethics, animal welfare, and time management. Students also gain understanding and confidence by presenting plans to peers and academics for feedback.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Having completed this unit, students will be well placed to conduct an excellent research project. They will be able to:

  • A) understand how to plan the components of a research project, including how to comprehend and summarise literature, plan experimental design and statistics, and plan data collection;
  • B) demonstrate an understanding of the logistical challenges of their research, which could include gaining permissions for field-based research, time management, travel, ensuring equipment is available, etc.;
  • C) compose risk assessments;
  • D) demonstrate a critical understanding of the ethical and legislative implications of their project.

Teaching Information

lecture, seminars, one-to-one discussion, and self-study

Assessment Information

Formative assessment will come through feedback on work by project advisors and peers. Summative assessment (letters refer to intended learning outcomes):

  • 75% Evaluation of written and oral presentation of research plans by academics (A, B, C, D)
  • 12.5% Evaluation of oral presentation by peers (B, D)
  • 12.5% Evaluation of others’ research plans (A, B, D)

Students will also be required to attend and be actively engaged with at least four discussion sessions arranged around the departmental seminar series (engagement with four sessions, noted with an attendance register, will be required to complete the unit).

Reading and References

Current reading will be recommended by the teaching staff, e.g.:

  • Hailman JP & Strier KB (2006). Planning, proposing and presenting science effectively: a guide for graduate students in the behavioral sciences and biology (second edition). Cambridge University Press.
  • Walliman N (2011). Your research project: designing and planning your work (third edition). Sage Publications.