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Module OSX-4401:
Research Preparation

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Sarah Zylinski

Overall aims and purpose

The aim of this module is to train students to systematically review and critically appraise the literature relevant to their own personal research project. To use the review to formulate specific questions, develop hypotheses and propose an experimental design and methods for their own research project.

Course content

This module will provide students with the basic training in gathering topic specific information through literature searching and devising appropriate experimental methodology and design. Students will produce a literature review and a project plan for their research project topic. Following an introductory lecture and two project proposal workshops students will spend their time in self-study including literature searching. Students will have to thoroughly assess the risks, ethics and legislation in relation to their proposed work through the production of a risk assessment that will have to be approved before any work can commence. Project supervisors will meet on a formal basis weekly throughout the semester and provide guidance and feedback about progress in the completion of the literature review and project plan.

Assessment Criteria


Provide a basic coverage of the available literature and show some integration of the material into the review. Develop a testable hypothesis from the review. Present a basic project plan with limited consideration of experimental design and proposed statistical analysis and basic details given for field and/or lab work. Basic, limited details of timings and contingency plans.


Provide considerable coverage of the available literature and show clear indications of a critical appraisal and integration of material across the topic area, well justified, testable hypotheses from review. Present well defined project plan with a good level of detail and evidence of experimental design and statistical methods being linked with the objectives. Provision of a workable time-frame, including proper consideration of contingency dates.


Provide evidence of wide reading and literature researching to demonstrate a considered coverage of the available literature showing full understanding, extensive critical appraisal and systematic integration of material across the topic area. Develop logically, prioritised, testable hypothesis from review. Clearly presented, logical project plan with extensive explanation of the experimental design and proposed statistical methods. A high level of detail for all aspects of the methods. Thorough consideration of the timing of all aspects of work surrounding the project deadlines, with realistic and well considered contingency plans.

Learning outcomes

  1. Be able to use a variety of sources (e.g. discussions with supervisor, published scientific papers, library resources, and web-based searches) to obtain relevant materials for a comprehensive in-depth literature review on a specific topic.

  2. Be able to integrate, critique and analyse information and ideas from a variety of literature sources.

  3. Demonstrate the ability to develop feasible research hypotheses grounded in knowledge from the existing scientific literature on the topic.

  4. Be able to complete a comprehensive Risk Assessment for planned research.

  5. Have a sound grasp of the process of planning and implementing a deliverable scientific project,

  6. Have an awareness of the appropriateness and worth of different sources of information.

  7. Show competence in communicating plans, rationale and timeline for research during discussion with supervisor, via verbal presentation, and in written form.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Literature review leading to project plan 90
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION Progress presentation 10

Teaching and Learning Strategy

One-to-one supervision

Meetings with project supervisor to discuss literature review and project plan. There are 2 x timetabled tutorials for this module, but students may make arrangements for additional meetings with supervisors if required.


Lectures on literature review preparation and project planning.


Workshop focusing on planning research and developing hypotheses.

Private study

Literature searching and reading (105 hours)

Private study

Review preparation and writing (60 hours) Project Proposal preparation and writing (30 hours)

Study group

A weekly session to discuss progress with peers and module organiser will be timetabled in weeks where no other teaching for the module occurs.


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

Courses including this module