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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Ecological Science

Undergraduate Course: Critical Thinking in Ecological and Environmental Sciences (ECSC10034)

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
SummaryIn this course you work in a forum comprising 5 to 6 students, overseen by one designated expert (your course tutor, a member of academic staff).

On a roughly weekly basis you will:
» discuss scientific issues, methods, processes and outcomes, based on analysis of peer-reviewed literature (i.e. journal articles);
» receive direct feedback on your critical thinking, speaking and writing skills;
» examine the research process in ecological and environmental sciences, becoming better prepared for completion of your dissertation projects.

Course description Introductory session on Tuesday week one 13:00 - 14:00 online.

12 x 1 hr group tutorials through the whole of Semester 1 and the first half of Semester 2. The first four tutorials are staff-led and the remainder will be student-led. The dates and times will be specific to your group.

Students are required to prepare for each tutorial by completing the assigned readings (typically two journal articles), as well as any specific inquiries agreed and allocated within your group. You should be detailed and critical in your reading - allow plenty of time. Make notes so that you can share your thoughts effectively at the tutorials.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students must be enrolled on Ecological and Environmental Sciences
Additional Costs No
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2021/22, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 12, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 86 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course has one formative written assessment, a marked written assessment (75%) and 25% of the mark is based on your contributions to running a tutorial.

Running a tutorial (25%) - Each student member in your group will take turns to lead tutorials 6-10/11, in a collectively agreed order and in relation to their particular question. One week in advance of each tutorial, the student tutor must share two journal articles as a basis for their discussion. These must be circulated (as PDFs or links) to all members of their group, including the course tutor. The student tutor will then lead the tutorial discussion using tutorials 1-4 as a model - asking key questions, guiding the other students towards synthesis, and providing context from their broader reading. Within the time limits of the tutorial the student tutor should provide a synthesis of the overall discussion and a conclusion. The course tutor will then end the tutorial by providing verbal comment on the student tutor's synthesis, offering guidance for preparation towards the Written Synthesis Report. They will also offer more general comments in relation to the scientific process exemplified by the discussion. The student tutor must allow 5-10 minutes for these course tutor inputs.

First written assignment (formative) - before your fourth tutorial (date to be confirmed by your tutor) you will be asked to submit a written piece to the Learn page - maximum 1000 words - on the following topic: Which is more valuable for advancing ecological and environmental sciences: observations, experiments or models? Deadline for submission to be confirmed with tutor.

Written Synthesis Report (75%) - Each student will prepare a referenced written synthesis (perspective) in relation to their question, based on their own reading and drawing on input from their group during the tutorial in Part A. The text must not exceed 1000 words, but one figure or table that assists in communication should be included. This figure or table must be original, i.e. generated by the student. There must be at least 10 literature citations, but there must also be no more than 20. Note that text in the reference list, and in the figure or table and its caption, are not included in the word count. The deadline for your synthesis submission is common to all groups and group members: 12:00 noon on Friday week 5 of semester 2. Submission must be via Turnitin, using the box set up on the course Learn page.
Feedback Following submission of the first formative assessment, your course tutor will provide personal feedback in 1:1 sessions held in lieu of tutorial 5, including a grade for guidance. At this meeting, your course tutor will also provide feedback on your contribution at the tutorial sessions held until that point.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a broader, deeper knowledge of the research process in ecological and environmental sciences.
  2. improve their critical capacity in relation to assessing value and originality of research.
  3. understand the process of structuring a scientific manuscript.
Reading List
Reading lists for tutorials will be found on the course Learn page.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Presentation and communications, in writing, summarising, and group working.
Study Abroad N/A
Additional Class Delivery Information First Meeting: Tuesday, week 1, Semester 1, 13:00-14:00 online.
KeywordsEcological and Environmental Sciences
Course organiserDr Saran Sohi
Tel: (0131 6)51 4471
Course secretaryMrs Nicola Clark
Tel: (0131 6)50 4842
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