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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE1156 Critical Thinking and Communication

5 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Dr Susanna Ebmeier

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module


1) To develop student skills and confidence in scientific writing
2) To provide experience in visual (preparing figures) and oral presentations (giving talks)
3) To introduce students to searching scientific literature
4) To familiarise students with approaches for critical analysis of data and scientific writing
5) To develop skills in quantitative reasoning

Learning outcomes
At the end of the module students should be able to:

• Tackle simple quantitative geophysical problems and explain their reasoning
• Synthesise scientific results by writing an abstract
• Discuss and critically appraise scientific papers
• Present a geophysical subject to a group of peers and provide constructive feedback to others
• Communicate their own geological observations in a formal report
• Independently research and organise information about a geophysical topic, producing appropriate figures.
• Search scientific literature using computer databases and the library


All exercises are introduced in seminars with worked examples. Students will then complete them in their own time and receive feedback from their personal tutors in small groups.

Either a lecture/seminar or a tutorial will take place every alternate week during both semesters. Tutorials based on independent exercises introduced during the lectures will take place 2-4 weeks after work has been set.

Topics covered in lectures/seminars typically include:

• Fermi problems
• Introduction to library and computer based literature searches
• Scientific abstract writing
• Scientific report writing
• Writing a CV
• Common fallacies, data interpretation and synthesis
• Critical analysis of scientific papers
• Presentation techniques

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours35.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)50.00

Private study

Private study will primarily be in the form of independent exercises introduced during lectures. Students’ work will be discussed in small group tutorials. The experience and feedback from each exercise will contribute to the next exercise.

Students are expected to devote individual study time to each of the following exercises (indicative times):

1. Fermi problems (3 hours)
2. Consolidating learning on searching literature (2 hours)
3. Writing a scientific abstract (4 hours)
4. Writing a scientific report (7 hours)
5. Critical analysis problem set and synthesis figure (5 hours)
6. Critical analysis of a scientific paper (7 hours)
7. Planning and preparing an oral presentation (5 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The ongoing assessments in both semesters and follow-on tutorials will be used to gauge progress and will provide students with feedback useful for subsequent exercises. Detailed feedback on all assessed work will be provided by individual tutors in tutorials, including two formative exercises (writing an abstract and practise data synthesis exercise) Students will also have the chance to give and received peer-to-peer feedback on oral presentations and work in tutorials. Attendance will be monitored to ensure engagement by students.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportScientific report (Formative)0.00
ReportAbstract (Formative)0.00
ReportCritical Analysis (Approx 800 words)60.00
PresentationVerbal presentation (Approx 10 mins)40.00
PracticalData synthesis exercise (Formative)0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

If a re-sit for this module is necessary it will take the form of an extended essay that requires all of the critical analysis skills developed in the practical exercises above (e.g., writing an abstract, literature search and synthesis and design of summary figures). This essay will be apprx 1500 words plus figures and will be worth the full five credits of the course.

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 26/05/2022 14:15:14


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