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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 in ecological and environmental sciences include both executing good scientific practice and effectively communicating science to audiences, which may or may not be scientifically literate. Further, there are many tangential skills to being a successful ecologist or environmental scientist, such as outreach. This course will attempt to prepare students to be practicing ecologists and environmental scientists. It will cover diverse topics from scientific writing and presentation to study design and data analysis.

In addition, the course covers topics that should help you to deliver an outstanding honours project. The continuous assessment for the course will take the form of a critical appraisal of an ecological/environmental science paper in the form of a briefing for colleagues as well as demonstrated skill in conducting data analysis. The sessions on research design, science communication, data analysis, and presentation will form the basis for an examination at the end of the course.
Course description Week 1, Sept 19- Outreach and community building
Week 2, Sept 26- Effective presentation
Week 3, Oct 3- Science communication
Week 4, Oct 10- Critical thinking
Week 5, Oct 17- Designing a research Programme
Week 6, Oct 24- Presentations of project plans
Week 7, Oct 31- Analytical tools for social studies
Week 8, Nov 7- Statistical Analysis I
Week 9, Nov 14- Statistical Analysis II
Week 10, Nov 21- Statistical Analysis III
Week 11, Nov 28- Last session for extra stats and exam review
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 2017/18, 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) Written Exam: 33.3%, Course Work: 66.6%

Intermittent (66.6%): At the session on October 2nd you will be provided with a choice of two recent ecological/environmental science papers. You will be asked to read one of the papers, critically assess its merits, and write a clear and concise account of your findings as a briefing statement for the Scottish Government. Your report should be submitted online to Learn and in hard copy to the Undergraduate Secretary, Undergraduate Office, room 332, Grant Institute by 12 noon on November 1st 2017.

At the session on November 13th students will receive a statistical analysis exercise to be conducted using the R Statistical Software. This should be submitted online to Learn by 12 noon on Monday December 4th 2017.

Examination (33.3%): The course will also be assessed by an examination designed to test your understanding of how to communicate science and to apply the scientific method to investigate ecological questions. Check the registry website for the exam timetable.
Feedback Students will receive feedback from staff and peers on the presentation of honours or other project plans. The briefing statements and a statistical exercise will be marked and returned with feedback. During the exam revision session in the final week of the course students will have the opportunity to discuss any aspect of the course with staff.
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. Effectively plan and design ecological and environmental science research.
  2. Execute cutting edge statistical analyses and visualise data and results.
  3. Give a formal presentation on a specialised topic to informed audiences.
  4. Communicate with your peers, senior colleagues and specialists through the effective use of scientific, professional level writing and oratory.
Reading List
R Core Team (2014) An Introduction to R. Available at under manuals (documentation).

Gardener M (2011) Statistics for Ecologists Using R and Excel: Data Collection, Exploration, Analysis and Presentation, Pelagic Publishing. UK. [ebook and hard copy from the university library]

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

Ford ED (2000) Scientific method for ecological research. CUP Cambridge

Gotelli NJ & Ellison AM (2013) A primer of ecological statistics. Sinauer Associates Inc, Sunderland, USA.

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.
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 Christina Coakley
Tel: (0131 6)51 7165
Course secretaryMiss Eilein Fraser
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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