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Module OSX-4009:
Research Project /Dissertation

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

60 Credits or 30 ECTS Credits

Semester 3

Organiser: Dr Jonathan King

Overall aims and purpose

The M.Sc. research project provides students with the necessary resources and time to independently investigate a specific scientific topic (chosen by the student with appropriate guidance of the academic staff). It aims to provide experience of planning, undertaking and reporting an independent research project (supervision available as required).

In the preliminary stages the necessary training will be given to allow students to formulate, plan and ensure the safe working practice of their project. Within this preliminary phase (initial month), students will be required to:

(i) carry out a preliminary desk study (including a critical review of the relevant scientific literature) to enable them to formulate specific investigations for their own project

(ii) produce a project plan in which they identify the scientific question(s), aims and objectives

(iii) perform a risk assessment for their specific project.

The main body of the project will provide a framework for testing a scientific hypothesis of an experimental, computational or observational nature. Where appropriate to the particular research topic, the project will provide experience in field survey work, laboratory practice, operation of analytical equipment and computer modeling. Students will be responsible for managing their time effectively and will receive the freedom to push their independent research in any feasible direction that resources allow.

The final part of the project will focus on developing the skills required for communicating in science. Specifically, at this stage the project module aims to train students to integrate the results from literature searching, experimental, computational and observational scientific research into a single report detailing their research project

Course content

The module will provide students with training and practice in the acquisition of information and data from experimental, observational and computational research and the effective communication of their results. The process of acquiring information will lead to the production of a plan and risk assessment. Students will integrate the various stages of their literature, experimental, computational and observational research into a scientific project report. The bulk of the module will be self-study.

Assessment Criteria


50 - 59% average : Provide a structured report at a basic level of presentation. Show a basic understanding of the methodology and its limitations. Draw unambiguous conclusions from analysis of research results and discuss the conclusions at a rudimentary level. Master of Science


60 - 69% average Provide a structured report at a good level of presentation. Show a detailed understanding of the methodology and its limitations. Draw unambiguous conclusions from analysis of research results and discuss the conclusions in context. Master of Science with Merit


70% +

Provide a structured report at a high level of presentation. Show a comprehensive understanding of the methodology and its limitations. Draw unambiguous conclusions from analysis of research results and effectively discuss the conclusions with a complete overview of the topic. Master of Science with Distinction overall average >70%

Learning outcomes

  1. Produce a scientific report combining elements of literature, experimental, computational or observational research undertaken as a research project.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Dissertation 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Individual Project

The balance of taught activities will vary depending on the type of research project taken by a student. For some students, ship-based and field work teaching and supervision may involve more supervision time than laboratory based research projects.

  1. Project preparation, planning and safety talk (including risk assessment preparation (2 hours)

  2. Ship time

  3. Laboratory based activities

  4. Field work activities

The total hours involved in supervising activities 2, 3 & 4 will be variable but should amount to ~24 hrs per staff member over a period of 16 weeks (i.e. 1.5 hrs week-1 per student)

  1. Data analysis and presentation (Staff time 5hrs per student)

  2. Report writing (Staff time 10 hrs per student)


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.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: