Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Other Two group meetings and fortnightly meetings with supervisor in each semester.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment PRESENTATION (S1)  Oral presentation (20 minutes)  20%
Semester Assessment REPORT (S1)  2000 word report on project proposal  30%
Semester Assessment PRESENTATION (2)  Oral presentation (20 minutes)  20%
Semester Assessment REPORT (2)  2000 word progress report on project  30%
Supplementary Assessment RESUBMISSION  Submission of one 4000 word report on project progress  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Identify an appropriate research question to investigate, which is feasible within existing constraints.

Place the chosen topic in the context of theoretical principles and published material.

Choose appropriate methods for data collection and analysis.

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their proposed project and make any necessary modifications.

Present their proposal and pilot study results in a concise and professional manner.

Communicate their proposed project verbally to an audience with varying degrees of specialist knowledge.


Semester 1: identify research topic; undertake background reading on context and possible methods; formulate hypothesis; identify appropriate research methods. Report on progress through seminar presentation and written submission.

Semester 2: refine research aims based on feedback; undertake pilot study to assess feasibility; further reading; begin data collection and preliminary data analysis. Report on progress through seminar presentation and written submission. Further training in specialist techniques provided by supervisor.


This module is designed to support the MRes dissertation module, focusing on planning. It provides a mechanism for support during the initial stages of project planning as well as a means of monitoring progress at an intermediate stage. The combination of individual support and group meetings provides a framework for exchange of ideas and feedback from peers, supervisors and other members of the Quaternary Environmental Change research group. Feedback on the assessed component of this module will help students to improve their work towards the dissertation module.

Brief description

The module is based largely on independent study and focuses on identifying an appropriate research question, developing an understanding of the wider scientific context and targeting suitable methods. There are no formal classes, but students will meet individually with their supervisor on at least a fortnightly basis during semesters 1 and 2. Further specialist training in relevant techniques will be provided on a one to one basis with the supervisor. There will also be two group meetings per semester with the module co-ordinator.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Although statistical analysis of datasets will be required for most projects, this module focuses on the planning stages and the selection of appropriate techniques, rather than the application.
Communication Students are required to present their project plan both verbally and as a written report.
Improving own Learning and Performance This module is based principally on independent study. The support and guidance offered through individual meetings and feedback on the first assignment will help students to improve their performance for the second submission.
Information Technology Students are required to use IT for presenting their oral and written work. Students will use a variety of software for data analysis and interpretation depending on their project.
Personal Development and Career planning Independent work and organizational skills will be developed. Written and oral communication skills required for presenting science and specialist skills will help to prepare for a career in research, either in or outside of academia.
Problem solving Students will be expected to identify a research problem and devise an appropriate approach to investigate it. Refinements may be required to initial plans which requires problem solving skills.
Research skills A particular focus of this module is on defining the research questions, investigating the wider context and choosing appropriate methods.
Subject Specific Skills Specialist technical skills in Quaternary Environmental Change will be acquired, the exact nature of which, depend on the chosen topic.
Team work Significant teamwork is only anticipated if the project involves a laboratory or field component. Students will be expected to contribute to group meetings and provide feedback to their peers during seminar presentations.


This module is at CQFW Level 7