Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Advanced Research Skills 2: research design and data acquisition
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 5 x 3 Hour Lectures
Field Trip 1 x 4 Hour Field Trip
Lecture 2 x 8 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Report: Converting analogue to digital data using GIS  Draft MSc dissertation proposal including research context, rational and a risk assessment. 2000 words.  35%
Semester Assessment Report: GPS survey consultancy report  Technical Report: GPS survey consultancy report. 2000 words.  30%
Semester Assessment Report: GPR survey design and interpretation of radargrams  Technical Report: GPR survey design and interpretation of radargrams. 2000 words.  35%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed components  Resubmission of failed components   100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Describe how map projections and coordinate systems are defined on mapping products

Convert analogue to digital data using digitising techniques

Design and conduct a GPS survey and post-process the data.

Evaluate the applicability and limitations of various ground survey techniques.

Design a GPR survey appropriate to the needs of a client and interpret radargrams.

Discuss the applicability/limitations of geophysical techniques in a range of environmental settings.

Brief description

The module introduces and develops a series of generic skills required at the postgraduate level. The main purpose is to introduce and develop advanced research skills in three main areas: research design, ground survey/GPS and GPR. All are relevant to one or more of the DGES MSc schemes. 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.


To provide a theoretical and practical introduction in a range of generic skills appropriate to conducting postgraduate research and professional activities in physical earth and environmental sciences


This module comprises a series of lectures and computer practical sessions with 23 hours contact time. It is divided into three sections covering research design, ground survey/GPS and GPR survey. There are three course-work assignments; one for each section.

Research Design and Implementation
The design and conduct of research projects, whether independent or team efforts, in commercial or academic contexts. Includes consideration of research protocols, ethics, and quality assurance (QA) aspects. Experimental design builds on the numerical skills developed in Advanced Research Skills 1.

Lecture 1: Research design, planning and execution.

Lecture: 2: Health and Safety. Consideration of the Health and Safety issues relating to laboratory and fieldwork (includes COSHH, general and field risk assessments).

Lecture 3: Preparing for your dissertation

Ground Survey Techniques
Lecture 4: Introduction to GPS

Practical 5: GPS survey and simulated consultancy exercise.

Practical 6: Post-processing data

Sub-surface survey techniques (GPR)
Workshop 7-10: Full day GPR workshop delivered by Prof John Reynolds.

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 GPS survey post-processing where coordinate geometry will be used.
Communication 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. Use of state-of-the-art GIS and DGPS processing packages. Excel. Use of web-based databases for acquisition of spatial datasets.
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 'Research design' 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 Several laboratory and field-based exercises will involve group work, both in terms of data processing and data interpretation.


This module is at CQFW Level 7