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Module OSX-3000:

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Margot Saher

Overall aims and purpose

The aim of this module is to help students develop independent study skills and research skills by undertaking a significant analytical exercise that consists of (a) a detailed literature review, (b) a thorough analysis of data or information retrieved from the literature or analysis of an existing data set and (c) a critical reflection of their data and topic. The dissertation will be in a specific research area under the supervision of an individual member of staff. Students will build on the skills already initiated in the 2nd year (Module OSX2000) to present the research literature reviewed and the data analysed, and provide a critical reflection of, their topic as a substantial written dissertation, and also as a 15 minute Powerpoint presentation to an audience (be it physically present or digital) of staff and students. Independent study, under the guidance of a Supervisor within a tutorial scheme, who will provide guidance if required for data collection, collation and analysis. Students will be offered as much choice as possible of the general research area that interests them and of the specific dissertation subject that they undertake. This module requires students to apply self-discipline and concentration in the detailed analysis of the research material followed by initiative and imaginative thought in the synthesis of the final dissertation. A substantial dissertation can be a clear demonstration to prospective employers of a student's academic ability and powers of analysis and expression.

Course content

The students' initial choice of dissertation topic will be organised prior to the start of the module and the topics covered will be very wide ranging across the whole spectrum of Ocean Sciences. There are lectures introducing the module, and elucidating processes such as the formulation of aims and objectives, literature searching, data searching, data presentation, and structuring a dissertation. Practical sessions on literature searching, referencing and statistical analysis are also provided. With this support provided in the early stages of the module, students will otherwise work independently but with the support of a supervisor who will generally be cognisant of, and may often be an expert in, the area of the students' dissertation topic. There will be five formal tutorials during the module. Each student will give a short oral presentation to an audience containing both fellow students and staff in a Conference-style format, and will be required to be part of that audience for other students. A final substantial dissertation will be submitted electronically through TURNITIN (plagiarism software).

Assessment Criteria


A good review of the scientific literature pertinent to the topic of research, clear evidence of data collation and analysis or problem solving, critical review and appraisal of data presented (a) as a detailed, tabulated and/or illustrated dissertation showing clear understanding of the topic and the research questions posed and (b) as a strong, confident oral presentation.


A thorough review of the scientific literature pertinent to the topic of research, extensive data collation and analysis or problem solving, excellent and critical review and appraisal of data presented (a) as a highly creative, insightful, carefully argued, tabulated and/or illustrated dissertation and (b) as a riveting, entertaining, tightly argued oral presentation.


A basic review of the scientific literature pertinent to the topic of research, some evidence of data collation and analysis or problem solving, basic review and appraisal of data presented (a) as a rudimentary but competent written dissertation and (b) as an adequate oral presentation

Learning outcomes

  1. Display evidence of original analytical thinking or problem solving

  2. Search for, find and bring together published information and data relevant to a specific chosen topic of research.

  3. Critically read, assimilate, review and analyse selected published information on a specific chosen topic of research.

  4. Describe and provide advanced interpretive analysis of a data set

  5. Competently present a written Dissertation using tabulation, illustration and correct referencing methodology.

  6. Competently present their findings in an oral presentation using Powerpoint

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Content (40%)

Is the background information (literature study, published sources to compare the results with) sufficient, authoritative, up-to-date and correctly explained? Is it well-referenced? Is the data used sufficient, authoritative, up-to-date and correctly explained? Is it well-illustrated by graphs?

Analysis (35%)

Is the data presented thoroughly and correctly analysed? This needs to be an actual numerical analysis; a verbal evaluation of analyses in published literature does not suffice. The nature of the analysis depends on the particular topic. Is the analysis clearly explained? Does the analysis allow for the answering of the research question? Are the correct conclusions drawn from the analysis?

Structure and style (15%)

Does the dissertation have the required format (see guidelines for dissertations)? Does it present a coherent narrative? Is the lay-out clear? Are the illustrations big enough and well-presented? Is it well-written? Is the referencing correct?

Portfolio (10%)

Is it regularly updated? Is the information in there presented in a tidy and logical way? Is feedback acted upon?

ORAL Oral presentation

Content 30%

Is the topic introduced, is all necessary information given, is it presented logically, is it evaluated critically, is it referenced?

Delivery 15%

Is it clear well-articulated, is the speed comfortable, is it engaging?

Slides 25%

Are they clear, logical and and readable? Are all captions and keys that are required there?

Timing 10%

10-12 mins: 100%. 9-13 mins: 70%. 8-14 mins: 50%. 7-15 mins: 40%. Beyond: 20%

Q&A 10%

Are all questions answered in a well-informed and to the point way?

Talk summary 10%

Does it summarise the entire talk? Is it within the word limit? Is the English correct and does the text flow? Does it draw the reader in? Does it have no unnecessary information?


Teaching and Learning Strategy


1 x 1 hr practical session on literature searching and referencing by Library staff 1 x 3 hr practical session on statistics


3 x 1 h lectures (recorded material plus live Q&A) Additional interactive online lectures available at students' convenience


5 x 1 h tutorials with supervisors, spread over semester


7 hr attending presentation of peers and giving own presentation

Individual Project



Oral session in which students in a group present their aims and objectives


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: