Skip to main content

Unit information: Dissertation (MSc Science Understanding, Research and Education) in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Dissertation (MSc Science Understanding, Research and Education)
Unit code EDUCM4100
Credit points 60
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Wishart
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

Teachers and educational practitioners are required to originate and use research evidence to inform their practice. The dissertation unit will provide students with experience of using research and theoretical literature to inform research design; designing and conducting a small scale research project; and communicating research in a coherent and cogent manner. Further, the students will be required to draw on previous units (Research Methods for Science Education or Research in Science, Trends in Science Education Research and Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Science) in the design, implementation, data collection and analysis of their research. This unit will support students to become critical readers of research literature, to use classroom innovations appropriately within the research process and to become independent generators of research ideas and practice within educational settings. The unit will also function as an important first step in supporting those students who wish to go on to further PhD study by providing the opportunity to test and evaluate their research practices and theoretical approaches.


  • To provide students with the experience of designing and conducting a small scale research study in their chosen science subject;
  • To enable students to develop a set of coherent research aims which link theory, methodology and empirical work;
  • To enable students to conduct a substantial literature review in their chosen field of study;
  • To enable students to select appropriate research methods and tools to conduct research.
  • To facilitate students’ development as independent and critical readers and practitioners of research.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • focus a research topic with researchable hypotheses;
  • identify and draw on appropriate literature in the design and theorisation of a research study;
  • understand the range of theoretical viewpoints pertinent to the research study;
  • design and conduct a small scale research project on the teaching of science in educational settings;
  • ability to compare research methods and select an appropriate one for the research study;
  • utilise new technologies appropriately in the data collection and analysis process;
  • identify the relationship between research evidence and theoretical development.

Teaching Information

As with the other units, the teaching strategy will employ three broad approaches, where appropriate, with the aims of contextualising as well as theorising issues of central importance, the development of student autonomy, and the individualisation of study and support. However, these approaches will be individualised as befits the nature of dissertation supervision. These are:

Face to Face Teaching This will be centred on individual tutorials but may include small group teaching, including presentations from staff and students and practical workshops where appropriate to support students with similar needs.

ELearning ELearning approaches will be used to facilitate individualised study and support. These will include: on-line discussion (with individuals and groups, online supervision and peer mentoring, guidance and feedback. Critical use of Web resources will be encouraged.

Research To provide data for analysis for the dissertation study. The use of action research, small-scale empirical studies and observations of professional practice will be encouraged and facilitated.

Assessment Information

Completion of 15,000 word dissertation

Reading and References

Key reading and references from all pre-requisite units.

Further reading will be specific to the students’ chosen area of research.