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Unit information: Honours dissertation 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 Honours dissertation
Unit code ANAT32122
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Trish Dolan
Open unit status Not open



Experimental Design and Statistics unit

School/department School of Anatomy
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

Students will conduct an original research project and present their findings in the form of a research dissertation and oral presentation. The unit aims to encourage students to investigate a specific research question in considerable depth and to develop an understanding of the process of scientific research. The project can take a variety of forms: Experimental projects are lab-based and involve the design, conduct and analysis of "wet" experiments, in which the students collect their own data, or occasionally "dry" experiments where the students analyse the results of existing data. Non-experimental projects are based on research of the scientific literature and require a detailed literature review on a particular research question and to propose a programme of further research. Teaching projects are based on the assessment of teaching methods and materials used in the undergraduate science and professional courses, or development of teaching aids (eg. e-learning) to augment existing teaching. Undergraduate Ambassador Scheme project students research and develop an original anatomy- based teaching project in partnership with teachers at a local secondary school. This involves the students developing original teaching resources and using them to deliver teaching to A-level pupils on a selected aspect of the A-level curriculum, along with assessment of their effectiveness. A second part of the project involves devising an original experiment that can be conducted by A-level pupils using the resources available in the Faculty teaching labs.

Students list their preferences from a wide range of projects and every attempt is made to allocate them a project according to their first three choices. Lab time for experimental projects is limited to 240 hours, mostly on Thursdays and Fridays between Oct and Feb.


The aim of this unit is to develop in the student the ability to source information relevant to a research question, and to formulate an experimental hypothesis based on that information.

Experimental projects: to test that hypothesis in a supervised research environment.

Non-experimental projects: to formulate a research proposal that will seek to test the hypothesis.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • A deep understanding of a specific scientific or educational question
  • The ability to gather information from the primary scientific and/or educational literature and to critically evaluate the material and appraise competing theories.
  • The ability to present original findings and ideas to a specialist audience in written and oral forms.

Teaching Information

Project planning and discussion meetings with project supervisors. Training in experimental techniques and data analysis relevant to the specific area.

Assessment Information

The unit will be assessed through:

  • Project Review Essay (20%). This consists of a 3000-word review of the literature related to their project question.
  • Project Dissertation (60%). For experimental projects, teaching projects and UAS projects this consists of a 300-word abstract and an 8000-word dissertation. For non-experimental projects the project dissertation consists of a Detailed Literature Review (300-word abstract and 10,000-word text) plus a Research Proposal (300-word abstract and 5000-word text), which contribute equally to the assessment of the project dissertation.
  • Lay abstract (5%). A 400-word abstract of the dissertation written in lay terms.
  • Supervisor’s report (7%). This is a summative written assessment by the project supervisor of the ability of the student to engage with the project and work on it independently, as well as their individual contribution to the project.
  • Oral presentation (8%). Assessment by a marking panel of a 15-minute talk about the student’s research findings.

Reading and References

Key reading is specific to the chosen project, and will be advised by the supervisor in the description of the project, which students will receive prior to Registration and selection of the project. General guidance on sourcing references, writing style, bibliographic style, oral presentation, and laboratory safety procedures are given in the Unit handbook.