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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) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryProfessional Skills in Ecological and Environmental Sciences is an honours course which aims to equip students with a set of transferable skills needed to become a successful ecologist or environmental scientist.
Course description This course will help to prepare students to be practicing ecologists and environmental scientists capable of executing good scientific practice and effectively communicating science to a range of academic, professional and lay audiences. It will cover diverse topics from scientific writing and presentation to critical thinking 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 policy makers, a presentation of your planned dissertation research, and demonstrated skill in conducting data analysis.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2021/22, 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 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 0%, Course Work: 100%, Practical Exam: 0%.

Critical thinking assignment (40%)
At the session in Week 2 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 scientific 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 by 12 noon on Thursday, Week 5.

Presentation of dissertation plan (20%)
During the session in Week 7 you will be asked to present a short summary of your dissertation plan to the class. Your slides should be submitted online to Learn by 12 noon on Thursday, Week 7.

Statistical analysis assignment (40%)
At the session in Week 8 students will receive a statistical analysis exercise to be conducted using the R Statistical Software and to apply the scientific method to investigate ecological questions. This should be submitted online to Learn by 12 noon on Thursday, Week 11.
Feedback Assessment and Feedback information All details related to extensions procedures and late penalties can be found in the School of GeoSciences General Information Handbook.
No Exam Information
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.

O'Connor M (1991) Writing successfully in Science. Chapman & Hall, London.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsECSC10017 Prof Skills in EES
Course organiserDr Aidan Keane
Tel: (01316)50 5094
Course secretaryMrs Nicola Clark
Tel: (0131 6)50 4842
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