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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Physics and Astronomy : Postgraduate (School of Physics and Astronomy)

Postgraduate Course: Dissertation in Astrobiology and Planetary Sciences (PGPH11106)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeDissertation AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits60 ECTS Credits30
SummaryThis course is compulsory for all students on the MSc in Astrobiology and Planetary Sciences. It gives students the opportunity to complete a Master's level research dissertation addressing an open question in these fields under the supervision of a suitable expert, using and extending the techniques and ideas covered during the taught courses.
Course description This course requires three months of independent research-level work in astrobiology and/or planetary sciences, building on the knowledge and methods learned from the taught courses. Students will produce a dissertation report of ~15,000 words (about 50 pages) including an introduction (clearly stating the research question or problem), an up-to-date and critical literature review, methods used, results obtained, and critical reflection and discussion. After completing the written dissertation there will also be an assessed seminar presentation to members of the University's astrobiology and planetary sciences/astronomical research community (the UK Centre for Astrobiology).

The project work should be undertaken primarily within the School of Physics and Astronomy and the topic should be agreed between the student, the supervisor, and the programme director. The work may involve a combination of experiments, sample analyses, computational methods, data analysis, and argumentation but must be original work carried out solely by the candidate in accordance with the University's regulations.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. survey and critically review the literature on a selected topic within astrobiology and/or planetary sciences, identifying unsolved problems amenable to further investigation.
  2. conduct a programme of original research work in further investigation of the topic, using appropriate methods.
  3. discuss and solve conceptual and technical problems which arise during the investigation.
  4. critically evaluate the investigation, anticipate criticisms and objections, and suggest avenues for future work.
  5. produce a substantial, coherent, well expressed research report and summarise it clearly in an oral presentation.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Graduates will be able to:

- apply knowledge, skills and understanding in planning and executing a significant project of research, investigation or development.
- use a wide range of specialised skills, techniques, practices and/or materials at the forefront of developments in the field.
- apply a range of research instruments and/or techniques of enquiry.
- demonstrate originality and/or creativity .

[Generic cognitive skills]
- identify, conceptualise and define new and abstract problems and issues.
- develop original and creative responses to problems and issues.
- critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills, practices and thinking in the natural sciences.
- deal with complex issues and make informed judgments in situations in the absence of complete or consistent data/information.

[Communication, ICT and numeracy skills]
- communicate with peers, more senior colleagues and specialists.
- use a wide range of ICT applications to support and enhance their work.
- critically evaluate a wide range of graphical and numerical data.

[Autonomy, accountability, and working with others]
- exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in professional and equivalent activities.
- take responsibility for their own work.
KeywordsAstrobiology,planetary science,dissertation
Course organiserDr Sean McMahon
Course secretary
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