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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 dissertations.

Learning outcomes

On completing this course successfully a student 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;
5 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.


Literature Review - 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
Review on topic presented in seminar. 3000 words. Learning outcomes 1 & 5.

Seminar - 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
Seminar presentation of 20 minutes, in the form of research proposal based on literature review. Learning outcomes 1-4.

Students are not required to pass all components in order to pass the course.

Formative Assessment - In-class discussion of case study material and issues arising from lectures.