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Unit information: Advanced Scientific Method and Application 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 Advanced Scientific Method and Application
Unit code VETS33002
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Knowles
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit provides students with the knowledge and diverse skills necessary for the successful completion of a research project in a relevant field of enquiry. Students will develop creative ways of applying the behavioural knowledge gained to a new and diverse set of problems in conversation, production and pest control. The unit builds on knowledge of the important principles in the use of statistic covered in the earlier scientific unit, and covers a broader range of statistical and modelling techniques, and associated software. Practical classes will develop computer programming skills.


The aims of this unit are to develop those skills necessary to pursue and understand the research process, including advanced data analysis, oral, written and visual presentation techniques, and communication skills.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit students will be able to:

  • design and undertake high quality research studies;
  • have the practical knowledge to use a computer software package for complex statistical analysis;
  • understand and apply core statistical methodologies;
  • disseminate information effectively through written papers, posters and oral presentations;
  • understand how principles and findings in behavioural science can be applied in a number of animal management areas;
  • seek new and creative approaches to applying behavioural knowledge gained.

Teaching details

Lectures, seminars, assisted practical classes, zoo visit and DSE

Assessment Details

Assessment is by means of an end of unit examination in which students analyse a previously unseen data set using SPSS. This exam takes place in the Computing Suite. Students are given three hours in which to carry out an initial exploratory data analysis and then fit and interpret a general linear model. The exam is open book and students may bring text books, lecture notes and a calculator into the exam. Students are NOT allowed to surf the web or open up any other files or software packages, other than those which are part of the exam. Past papers and data sets are made available on Blackboard after the first term. An example paper is shown at the end of the relevant unit handbook. This exam carries 80% of the marks for this element.

A one hour, practice examination is arranged during teaching block 1 to allow the students to become familiar with the exam format. The actual exam is timetabled for the January assessment period to allow students to revise their statistical knowledge before the main body of their work on their dissertation project takes place.

During teaching block 1 an assessed DSE (Directed Self-Education) provides 20% of the remaining marks for the element. The DSE is carried out across the Advanced Scientific Methods and Applications element and the Applying Behavioural Knowledge element and is described in more detail below in the section covering Applying Behavioural Knowledge.

Reading and References

  1. Graffen, A. & Hails, R. (2002) Modern Statistics for the Life Sciences. Oxford
  2. Statistics with Confidence 2nd Edition (2000) Doug Altman (ed) BMJ Books
  3. Statistics at Square Two (2001) Mike Campbell. BMJ Books
  4. Successful Scientific Writing: A Step by Step Guide for the Biological and Medical Sciences. 3rd Edition (2008), Matthews Janice R. Cambridge University Press

Grafen and Hails’ book forms the basis of the core statistics lectures and every student is issued with a personal copy from the Langford Library for the duration of the course. The other two books are not required reading but, if you would like to expand your expertise and knowledge of the application of statistics, these are very useful books and can be found in both the Langford Library and the Medical Sciences Library in Bristol.

Please note books 3 and 4 are available as e-books from the University Library (