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Course Information Undergraduate prospectus

Research Methods for Postgraduates

Course summary

Course code: ENVI1096
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Pharm, Chemical and Envi Science
Course Coordinator(s): Peter Burt



The aims of this course are to:
• Enable the students to understand the nature of research and the value of different routes to knowledge;
• Equip students with the confidence and ability to make judgements and decisions required in research and to assess critically the information they obtain;
• Enhance the students’ research abilities enabling them to undertake academically and/or professionally merited MSc dissertations, characterised by evidence of high quality structure, content, organisation and presentation;
• Enhance the students’ ability to work independently on the preparation of research proposals and reports.

Learning outcomes

On completing this course successfully you will be able to:

1 Use a range of scientific and/or social scientific literature in a balanced critical manner in research projects.
2 Adopt and apply appropriate forms of analysis relevant to a range of data types.
3 Identify and apply appropriate statistical methods and other techniques for the purposes of data analysis.
4 Plan and design an effective research strategy, using a range of methodologies, appropriate to Level 7 work and communicate the results of research effectively and at an appropriate level via presentations and written work.

Indicative content

This course is offered to students on five MSc programmes. As a result, its content is organised into “generic” sessions addressing issues of concern to all post graduate students.

• Approaches to research, including the scientific and qualitative research methodologies, discussing the nature of research.
• Role of the critical literature review in the research dissertation, including critical writing from the literature, searching for literature in books, journals and the internet.
• Research proposals, characteristics of good proposals.
• Effective research design, using the experience of staff and previous students’ MSc dissertations.
• Project management, approaches to management of projects.
• Statistical analysis of research data, including univariate and multivariate statistical methods.
• Approaches to social research, qualitative and quantitative including questionnaire survey design and implementation, interviews, focus groups, participant observation, analysing documentary sources.
• Participatory methods, including needs assessment, sustainable livelihoods analysis, stakeholder analysis, value of participatory research.

Teaching and learning activity

Students will be taught by a combination of lectures, discussion based workshops and practical sessions associated with statistics. In addition, a supporting tutorial system will operate parallel to the course (but not part of it) to permit further follow-up on key skills development.


Method of summative assessment: Literature review
Outcomes assessed:1
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :60%
Passmark: 50%
Word Length:2500
Outline Details:Review on topic presented in seminar.

Method of summative assessment: Seminar
Outcomes assessed:1,4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :40%
Passmark: 50%
Word Length:n/a
Outline Details: Seminar presentation of 20 minutes, in the form of research proposal based on literature review.

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning: Critical review. An assessment is made of the literature to provide feedback for improvement.