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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geosciences

Undergraduate Course: Research Methods and Transferable Skills (GESC11005)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Year 5 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course will enable students to learn general transferable skills and professional skills appropriate to their MEarthSci year, as well as help students manage the transition from working at an undergraduate to a postgraduate level. Emphasis will be placed on small group teaching with strong staff-student interaction. Key analytical techniques used in geoscience research will be introduced through a series of short modules, both in terms of presenting the theoretical background to analytical techniques as well as actual hands-ons training using equipment. Advantages and limitations of different techniques will also be compared and discussed. Students will be able to draw on the skills acquired during the course to plan and execute their independent research topic, but will also have the opportunity to become familiar with techniques more widely used in geoscience research. Core research skills will also be presented through a series of workshops, including how to determine the statistical validity of analytic
al and experimental data, comparing data and results with published literature, dealing with large data sets, presenting and describing data in both graphical and text-based methods, presenting data through verbal and poster presentations (at the level of a large scientific conference), and preparing scientific reports.

Course description The course is run weekly over Semester 1 for approximately 2 hours each week, longer if we are visiting external organisations. The course provides a brief induction to various analytical methods, tailor to the research projects for that particular year and transferable skills. Therefore the course timetable changes annually as to meet the requirements of a particular student cohort. The sessions are discussed with the students in the summer leading up to Semester 1.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements While there are no pre-requisites for this course, only students who are accepted onto the MEarthSci programme can enrol in it.
Additional Costs None.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 25, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 71 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 0%, Course Work: 100 %, Practical Exam: 0%.

The course is assessed through a reflective diary (30%) and technical report (70%). The diary will be submitted using PebblePad software. The technical report will be submitted electronically through LEARN.

The reflective diary will be written as an ongoing piece of assessed work that is written as the course progresses. This will be written as a blog and will contain a record of the training received during the course. It will also be a record of your thoughts on the different analytical techniques and techniques introduced and their potential uses, advantages, disadvantages etc. Social media is becoming an increasing important aspect of the outreach associated with current research, including the use of blogs and this will provide practical experience in the scientific writing for the general public.

Students will write a detailed technical report on an analytical or experimental technique of their choice, which they will rely on for their own independent research project. This should consist of an accurate explanation of the scientific background and principles upon which the technique depends, a detailed description of the technique, and a critical evaluation of the technique in terms of scientific applicability in Earth Science research and any limitations in its use. This will be submitted in a literature review format.
Feedback Opportunities for feedback in continuous throughout the course. Students are able to ask for verbal feedback weekly throughout the course informally.

Formative feedback are available to students on their first few blog posts, through the comments mechanism, available in blogs.

Individual written feedback will be given to each student at the end of the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will gain an insight into a number of key analytical techniques used in geoscience and applicable to their research projects.
  2. Undertake analyses of samples with appropriate supervision of technical staff.
  3. Students will develop strong staff-student interaction allowing them to develop professional transferable skills.
  4. Understand the level of statistical validity of the data they collect (as well as the data of others), and to be able to discuss these. Students will be able to present and describe these data with graphical and text-based methods.
  5. Students will develop a range of science communication skills from public outreach skills to professional skills for presenting their research to their peers.
Reading List
There is no recommended reading list for this course as it is subject to the projects chosen.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements Although the course will run over 11 weeks, the intensity of teaching may vary from one week to the next to accommodate the availability of technical staff who will contribute to the course.
Course organiserDr Kate Saunders
Tel: (0131 6)50 2544
Course secretaryMiss Sarah Thomas
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
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