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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Ecological Science

Undergraduate Course: Professional Skills in Ecological and Environmental Sciences (ECSC10032)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryProfessional skills include (a) technical skills and (b) interpersonal skills. We will discuss the following topics in an integrated way. How to be effective; Planning a project; Survey and Experimentation; Data Management and Databases; Philosophy and objectives of statistical analysis; generalised linear models and higher-level models (e.g. mixed models); Visualizing and Presenting Data; Communicating science to your peers; Communicating Science to the public; Professional Networking.

In addition, the course covers topics that should help you to produce and present a rigorous plan for your honours project. Time will be allocated to the preparation of a draft project plan, with the aim of presenting it during the course. The continuous assessment for the course will take the form of a briefing statement for policymakers based on the critical appraisal of an ecological/environmental science paper. The sessions on research design, data management, statistical analysis, and data presentation will form the basis for the examination at the end of the course.
Course description Week 1: Designing a Research Programme
Week 2: Data, data management, and databases
Week 3: Networking, Outreach, and Science Communication
Week 4: Effective Criticism
Week 5: Analytical Tools for Social Studies
Week 6: Statistical Analysis I: Theory and introduction to R programming
Week 7: Statistical Analysis II: Generalised linear models and higher-level stats
Week 8: Statistical Analysis III: presenting data and making figures
Week 9: Effective Presentation
Week 10: Presentation of project plans and feedback
Week 11: Course Wrap-Up and Exam Revision Session
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 18, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 3, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 68 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 33 %, Coursework 67 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 33.3% Critical evaluation of journal article handed in as written report

33.3% R Statistical Software practical

33.3% Final exam: 2 hour exam; three equally weighted questions: 1 on
experimental design, 1 on statistics, 1 on science communication;1 4-page stationary book per question.
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Professional Skills in Ecological and Environmental Sciences2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Plan your work properly, exercising autonomy and initiative in a professional level activity
  2. Produce scientific text at the level needed for the project dissertation
  3. Interpret, use and evaluate a wide range of numerical and graphical data to set and achieve goals
  4. Give a formal presentation on a specialised topic to informed audiences
  5. Communicate with your peers, senior colleagues and specialists through the effective use of a scientific, professional level poster.
Reading List
R Core Team (2014) An Introduction to R. Available at under manuals (documentation).

Emden J Van (2001) Effective communication for science and technology. Palgrave, New York.

Ford ED (2000) Scientific method for ecological research. CUP Cambridge
Hairston NG (1989) Ecological Experiments: purpose, design and execution. CUP, Cambridge

Hughes IG & Hase TPA (2010) Measurements and their uncertainty. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

O'Connor M (1991) Writing successfully in Science. Chapman & Hall, London.

Gotelli NJ & Ellison AM (2013) A primer of ecological statistics. Sinauer Associates Inc, Sunderland, USA.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 1 three-hour session per week
KeywordsECSC10017 Prof Skills in EES
Course organiserDr Kyle Dexter
Tel: (0131 6)51 7065
Course secretaryMiss Christine Lee
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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