Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Other 30 Hours. Ten x 3 hour classroom sessions, with follow-up project work to total 200 hours


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Five in-course projects, as follows. 1. Communicating science: students critically evaluate immediately current media coverage of science topics, analyzing the devices used, and prepare press releases on a selected topic (15%). 2. Numerical data handling and statistical skills: statistical exercises and report (15%). 3. Computer-based skills: exercises based on manipulation of scientific data and report (25%). 4. Health and Safety assessment (laboratory and field work) (15%). 5. Research Design, planning and execution: prepare a brief funding proposal on an assigned project (30%)   100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed elements of coursework. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

*Seek, locate, abstract, synthesise and handle existing scientific information.

*Manipulate numerical data and apply relevant statistical techniques.

*Operate relevant computer-based methods.

*Identify and evaluate the hazards associated with working in field and laboratory environments.

*Critically analyse and evaluate previous work.

*Focus on new research that is needed, to meet commercial needs or to set agendas in work; plan and execute new programmes of research and testing.

*Communicate effectively the research and its results via various relevant media.

Brief description

Introduction and practice in a range of generic skills appropriate to conducting postgraduate research and professional activities in physical earth and environmental sciences.


The content is grouped into the following themes:

_Information searching, abstracting, indexing and citation_
On-line databases (Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, Geobase, Georef, Web of Knowledge, Digimap, etc.), on-line catalogues (e.g. COPAC), accessing on-line publications (Science Direct, Ingenta, Wiley Interscience, etc.), abstracting principle, indexing and citation protocols (e.g. Endnote).

_Numerical data handling and statistical skills_
Presentation of numerical data, and mathematical and statistical techniques relevant to working in the physical environment.

_Computer-based skills_
Progressing from the above skills: sourcing and manipulation of data from the WWW; access databases; design and construction of presentation packages; simple programming using Visual Basic.

_Health and Safety_
Consideration of the Health and Safety issues relating to laboratory and fieldwork (includes COSHH, general and field risk assessments).

_Research and experiment design, planning and execution_
The design and conducting of research projects, whether independent or team efforts, in commercial or academic contexts. Includes preparation of funding applications/commercial tender bids, consideration of research protocols, ethics, and quality assurance (QA) aspects. Experiment design builds on the numerical skills developed in preceding sessions.

_Communicating Science_
Writing technical English, report design and execution, preparation for successful publication, effective oral presentation skills, communication with the public (e.g. media techniques, press releases, interview skills).

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will obtain, present and interpret numerical data where appropriate through the module, and specifically as part of the 'Numerical data handling' and 'Computer-based skills' sessions and exercise.
Communication Communication skills, and the importance of effective communication in science, are developed specifically through the 'Communicating science' sessions, whilst oral presentation skills are practiced in the 'Evaluating research' session. Written communication skills are assessed as part of the various module assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance A large amount of independent study is required for this module. A considerable degree of self-motivation is required from the students in order to meet deadlines for continuous assessment. The development of learning and self management strategies is necessary in order to meet both the long- and short-term goals set by this course.
Information Technology Students will refine and develop their IT skills through use of both commonly available software packages for the presentation and analysis of in-course work, and also more specialist packages as appropriate to the specific M.Sc. courses being pursued.
Personal Development and Career planning This module develops student research skills, which are transferable in nature. Students receive an insight into a range of potential career opportunities, both within and outside academia, through the various sessions of this module and their associated exercises.
Problem solving Problem solving skills are developed throughout the programme, but specifically in the 'Research design and project management' and 'numerical data handling' sessions and their associated exercises.
Research skills This module specifically addresses the development of advanced research skills throughout the sessions and exercises.
Subject Specific Skills Wherever possible, project work will utilise material drawn from topics relevant to whichever of the M.Sc. schemes is being pursued by the individual student, gaining subject-specific skills relevant to that particular M.Sc. Scheme.
Team work Students will develop their team work skills through role play in the tender document oral presentations ('Evaluating research' session), and the 'Communicating science - Ethics and the media' session.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Coombes, H. (2001) Research using IT Palgrave Press Primo search Croft, A. and Davison, R. (2003) Foundation Maths Prentice Hall Primo search Jefferies, J (2001) Beginning statistics. Sage Press Primo search Johnson, R.J (1980) Multivariate Statistical Analysis in Geography. Longman Primo search Peck, J. & Coyle, M. (1999) The Student's Guide to Writing Macmillan Primo search Rowntree, D. (2000) Statistics without tears: an introduction for non-mathematicians. Penguin Books Primo search Townend, J. (2002) Practical Statistics for Environmental and Biological Scientists. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd. Primo search Van Emden (2001) Effective communication for Science and Technology Palgrave Press Primo search Van Emden, J. (2001) Effective communication for Science and Technology. Palgrave Press Primo search White, S., Evans, P., Mihill, C. & Tysoe (1993) Hitting the Headlines: a practical guide to science in the media. BPS Books. Primo search Wisker, G., (2001) The Postgraduate Research Handbook Palgrave Press. Primo search
Recommended Consultation


This module is at CQFW Level 7