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Unit information: Research Project in 2015/16

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Unit name Research Project
Unit code VETSM0040
Credit points 60
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Kennedy
Open unit status Not open

VETSM0042 - Research Skills



School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience of wildlife-related research. Students will be able to demonstrate their skills in topic selection, in investigating the background context of their chosen project, in research design and implementation, in analysis and in report writing. They will also gain exposure to the processes by which scientific results are communicated and debated. The project will culminate in the submission of (i) a literature review, and (ii) a scientific paper suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. Acceptance of students onto the research project unit will be conditional upon them having successfully passed the taught stage of the MSc programme.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completing this unit students should have a deep understanding of their chosen project topic. They should also be familiar with the essential principles of research design in the context of wildlife health and conservation. It is expected that, as a minimum, students should be able to:

  • conduct a thorough literature review on a specific topic, demonstrating the ability to critically analyse and correctly reference the work of others.
  • demonstrate how to construct a coherent research hypothesis.
  • plan and execute a field, laboratory or library based project of appropriate scope for a four month research project.
  • collect, record, analyse and critically interpret scientific data derived from their research project.
  • write up their work in the form of a high quality scientific paper suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. This should provide a clear introduction to the field of research, the aims of the study, the methods used, the data obtained and a critical evaluation of their conclusions and the contribution they make to scientific knowledge.
  • understand the legal and ethical issues that are likely to encountered when carrying out a wildlife-related research project.

Teaching Information

A research project guide will be supplied to all students. Students will then be expected to suggest a project topic of their own initiative, after discussion with academic staff. The Programme Director will approve all research projects and will check that each student has appropriate supervision. The supervisors will advise the students throughout their projects, including holding discussion meetings with them during office hours as necessary.

Assessment Information

The learning outcomes for this unit will be assessed using a combination of a literature review (30%) and a scientific paper suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal (70%).

Reading and References

Students will be expected to show considerable initiative in searching the literature for information on their chosen projects. It is expected that the students will refer to a diverse range of sources. Primary sources will include books, journals and other research sources accessible through the University library but, for some topics, it may be necessary to carry out more detailed (e.g. archive) research.

The following are some examples of generic research-orientated texts that the students might find helpful:

  • Biggam, J. (2011) Succeeding with your Master’s Dissertation: A Step-by-Step Handbook (2nd Ed). Open University Press.
  • Brett Davies, M. (2007) Doing a Successful Research Project: Using Qualitative or Quantitative Methods. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Cresswell, J.W. (2008) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches. Sage Publications.
  • Dawson, C. (2009) Introduction to Research Methods: A Practical Guide for Anyone Undertaking a Research Project. How to Books Ltd.
  • Dytham, C. (2010) Choosing and Using Statistics: A Biologist’s Guide. (3rd Ed). Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Field, A. (2009) Discovering statistics using SPSS (3rd Ed). Sage Publications.