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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5690M Research Frontiers and Environmental Fieldwork

15 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Graham Mann

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

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications


Module replaces


This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The “Research Frontiers” involves 15 overview lectures by leading scientists in the School and 5 discussion-seminars (every 3 weeks through the module).Whilst the lectures give a window into several themes of the research, the seminars focus on just one area, small groups discussing 1 or 2 key papers from each lecture, identifying the main findings and the “frontiers in the subject” the research aims to incrementally advance.The module provides an exciting window into current research across the 5 pathways of the Environmental Science degree programme: Earth, Atmosphere, Water, Biosphere and the Anthroposphere, with 2-5 lectures on each theme. With the 3,000-word essay assessment, students research one of the lecture topics in depth, to gain experience of an academic research discipline in environmental science. Once projects are assigned, students will be provided with a list of key references, and are also encouraged to contact the lecturer with specific questions about the research area. In addition students will have to take part a compulsory fieldtrip in a subject commensurate with their programme of study (currently we will offer either a conservation biology based course in Co Devon or an atmospheric science based course on Arran). However other appropriate field courses can be taken as directed by the programme manager. The Arran field course is normally held at the Lochranza Fieldcentre in mid-September (ie shortly before the official start of the new academic session). The Devon field course is normally held in the summer. Assessment for the fieldwork will be via a combination of tasks completed in the field and a 1,500 word report set by the field trip organiser.


This module aims to give time and space for students to develop the following skills:

- Recognising and using subject-specific theories, paradigms, concepts and principles
- Analysing, synthesising and summarising information critically, including prior research
- Collecting and integrating several lines of evidence to formulate and test hypotheses
- Applying knowledge and understanding to address familiar and unfamiliar problems
- Planning, conducting and reporting on investigations
- Communicating appropriately to an academic audiences in written form
- Developing the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (eg working independently, time management and organisation skills)
- Using the Internet critically as a means of communication and a source of information
- Recognising the moral and ethical issues of investigations and appreciating the need for professional codes of conduct.
- Team working skills
- Data analysis skills
- Error appreciation skills
- Interpretation skills with respect to field data.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:

- Practice skills in analysis, synthesis and integration of information, and in the application of related theoretical knowledge, where relevant. They will appreciate related issues of the investigation of the exploitation of resources and other human impacts on the environment.
- Gain an understanding of the range of academic research carried out within the school and produce a high quality literature review to a tight deadline.
- Demonstrate ability to engage with academic research and critically evaluate the state of the science knowledge in a chosen area.
- Demonstrate the ability to work effectively within a team.
- Gain an appreciation of the precision, accuracy and uncertainty involved in sample collection, analysis and recording of data.
- Be able to report data and uncertainties in a concise report.
- Practice the practical requirements for collecting environmental measurements.


- 15 x overview research lectures
- 5 discussion seminars aligned with key papers in each lecture topic.
- 4 or 5 day environmental science fieldtrip.

The 15 lecture topics will span the 5 streams within Environmental science: Earth; Atmosphere: Biosphere: Water and Environmental Management, with 2-4 topics in each area.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Drop-in Session11.001.00
Private study hours57.00
Total Contact hours93.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

57 hours: Time for private reading to back up seminars / fieldwork and preparation of written assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Drop in session during semester two to ensure students have chosen topics and are aware of requirements for final submission.
- Feedback form tutors directly during fieldwork and marks from semester one fieldtrips.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words50.00
ReportProject Report50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 04/10/2018


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