Module Identifier EAM1120  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Helen M Roberts  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Duncan J Quincey, Dr Simon J Cook, Dr Alun Hubbard, Professor Michael J Hambrey, Professor Richard M Lucas, Professor David Kay  
Course delivery Other   30 Hours. Ten x 3 hour classroom sessions, with follow-up project work to total 200 hours  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
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:

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

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.  
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.  
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.  
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.  
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.  
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.  
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.  

Reading Lists

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

Web Page/Sites
** Recommended Consultation


This module is at CQFW Level 7