Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Advanced Research Skills 1: science communication and data analysis
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 9 hours: Three x 3 hour practicals (numerical skills)
Lecture 21 Hours. Seven x 3 hour lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay: Communicating science: students critically evaluate current media coverage of science topics, analysing the narrative devices used, and prepare press releases on a selected topic, 1000 words.  20%
Semester Assessment Technical Report: Report on georeferencing and digitising, 2000 words.  40%
Semester Assessment Technical Report: Numerical data handling and statistical skills: scientific data report, 2000 words.  40%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed elements of coursework.  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

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

Critically analyse and evaluate previous research work and communicate it effectively via various relevant media.

Georeference maps and aerial photographs and quantify the errors associated with the process.

Digitise features within a GIS and perform basic quantitative analysis on the shapefiles.

Manipulate numerical data and select/apply relevant statistical techniques.

Brief description

The module introduces and develops a series of generic skills required at the postgraduate level. Although the main purpose is to introduce and develop advanced research skills, certain skills that will have been introduced in typical undergraduate programmes - such as written English, basic numerical and statistical methods, and computer techniques - remain so fundamental that further practice is warranted. All are relevant to the more specialised DGES MSc schemes. Material from those more specialised streams will be utilised in the practical aspects of this module. The module builds on the recommendations by the UK Research Councils (in particular NERC) to develop a robust program of research skills useful in both the taught and research aspects of the MSc, and to enhance employability.


This module comprises a series of lectures and computer practical sessions with 30 hours contact time. It is divided into three main sections covering science communication, mapping/GIS and numerical skills. There are three course-work assignments; one for each section. There is a final session on research design which will introduce the issues surrounding the execution of an MSc dissertation.

Science Communication:
Developing knowledge about how scientific information is communicated using a wide range of formats including effective oral presentation skills, communication with the public (e.g. media techniques, press releases, interview skills).The more qualitative skills sets of discourse analysis and policy interpretation provides vital skills sets required when putting research into practice.

Lecture 1: Introduction to Advanced Research Skills and Communicating Science I: Effective oral and visual communication
Lecture 2: Communicating Science II: Writing effectively
Lecture 3: Understanding communication: discourse and policy analysis

Lecture 4: Types and sources of spatial data, map projections I
Lecture 5: Map projections II, coordinate systems
Lecture 6: Converting analogue to digital data, digitising

Numerical Skills:
Advanced mathematical and statistical techniques, including data base management, relevant to working with large environmental data sets.

Practical 7: Computer-based skills: Data presentation and managing data sets.
Practical 8: Numerical data handling I: Data analysis.
Practical 9: Numerical data handling II: Statistical analyses and interpretation

Introduction to Research Design:
Lecture 10: Preparation for the MSc research dissertation

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 are developed specifically through the 'Communicating science' sessions. 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.
Information Technology Students will refine and develop their IT skills through use of both commonly available software packages for the presentation and analysis of data. Basic GIS skills will also be developed.
Personal Development and Career planning 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 'numerical data handling' sessions.
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 MSc schemes is being pursued by the individual student, gaining subject-specific skills relevant to that particular MSc Scheme.
Team work Students will develop their team work skills in the 'Communicating science' sessions.

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