Study Abroad and Exchanges



MST3104 : Research Project: Marine Biology

Semester 1 Credit Value: 30
Semester 2 Credit Value: 30
ECTS Credits: 30.0


The module provides students with the opportunity to practice their use of the scientific method by formulating hypotheses and testing them. To encourage students to consolidate their organisational skills by giving them the responsibility for designing and running their own project through the preparation of an initial project proposal, carrying out laboratory and /or field investigations and writing up their findings as a substantive report. To apply and consolidate skills learnt in a number of other modules, in particular the procedures for recording research in Research Skills, Graduate Employability Skills and Marine Practical Skills.

Students have the opportunity to develop their research skills in two projects that focus on a particular aspect of Marine Biology research that interests them, one in the UK and one overseas. Students elect to undertake one of these projects under the supervision of a member of academic staff. They have the opportunity to take responsibility for their own project and further develop their organisational and scientific writing skills.

Outline Of Syllabus

For their overseas field course:
Eight day residential field course involving a range of laboratory, shore based and on-board vessel tasks. The exact location of the course may vary from year to year. Students will be assessed on their ability to work in teams and independently on tasks. Lectures, discussion seminars and workshops will provide grounding in the ecology of the region, and provide opportunities for building team skills. Tutorials back in the UK will provide opportunities for reflection on learning outcomes, data analysis training and report writing briefing.

For their independent Research Project:
Working independently the students will prepare a two page project proposal (along the lines of a research grant proposal). This will include the background to the research, methodology and approach, a GANTT chart to demonstrate the proposed programme of research and a costing for the resources required (in discussion with their Supervisor). They will research the scientific literature relevant to their chosen subject area and will prepare an extended literature review. They will identify or develop appropriate methodology and identify suitable statistical analyses to be used in the study. They will undertake independent research to test their hypotheses and record all their work in a field/laboratory notebook. They will produce a full write-up of their project using the form of a scientific paper. They will prepare and deliver an oral presentation on a key area of Marine Biology as part of a one day ‘Scientific Conference’.

To further support them in their research, students will undertake training via a series of lectures and workshops on multivariate statistics and GIS.

Seminar Series:
Invited speakers from the UK and overseas, will share their research experiences, and illuminate global marine science issues. Students will be encouraged to use these seminars as a starting point for extended reading on current topical areas of global marine science research.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion118:0018:00Laboratory notebook
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:00Research Project report
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:00Literature review
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion112:0012:00Field course report
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture12:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion16:006:00Formative project proposal
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion124:0024:00Oral Conference presentation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Formative Conference abstract
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00Field course tutorials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Project clinics
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00ArcGIS workshop
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Multivariate statistics workshop
Guided Independent StudyProject work1200:00200:00Project work
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops18:008:00Scientific Conference
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork190:0090:00Overseas field course
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision120:306:00Supervisor meetings
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time101:0010:00External guest seminars
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
MST3105Research Project: Marine Zoology
MST3106Research Project: Marine Biology and Oceanography
MST3107Research Project: Overseas
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will present background to new data analysis techniques and inform students of the format of their final project report.

Workshops will introduce students to more advanced data analysis software such as PRIMER and ArcGIS to provide them with training in using these tools, which may be appropriate for them to apply to their overseas and independent research project data.

The overseas residential field course provides training in and experience of field work, other biogeographic regions and research project skills. Tutorials will be held following the overseas field courses to inform students of the format of their overseas project report, and provide one-to-one support with data analysis and report writing. Project clinics will be offered throughout the module to allow students to drop in and receive further support with their independent research project, in addition to the support received by their Project Supervisor.

The seminar series and extended reading encourages the students to consider the integration of their study and to draw on a range of information sources.

Allowing students to conduct a field or laboratory-based research project will further increase their organisational, time management and planning skills through conducting an independent scientific investigation. It will give students the opportunity to put into practice skills developed at Levels 4 and 5 in relation to planning and costing an investigation; devising a suitable methodology and approach; collecting, analysing and interpreting data and presenting their work in a concise format. The practical and tutorial sessions in Marine Study Skills and the lectures and computer-based practical classes in Marine Research and Employability Skills that students will have all received prior to undertaking this module will have provided them with a thorough theoretical and classroom-based preparation for independent field or laboratory study. The research project will also enable students to develop further the sampling methodologies learned in Marine Practical Skills.

Assessment preparation and completion will allow students to fully prepare for their formative and summative assessments. They will have the opportunity to consolidate and build upon knowledge gained throughout their degree programmes.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation152M10Scientific Conference - 15 Minute oral presentation
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M202000 word overseas field course report
Written exercise1M205000 word literature review
Research paper2M505000 word research project report
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Research proposal1MResearch Project Proposal - maximum two pages in length
Portfolio2MResearch Project notebook
Written exercise2MScientific word presentation abstract - 250 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessed overseas field course report will be in the form of a manuscript, which will examine the student’s ability to design, execute and write-up components of a research study, including presentation and interpretation of appropriate statistical techniques and discussion of the key findings using the primary literature.

The independent project proposal allows the student to demonstrate their planning and organisational skills (including a GANTT chart to make clearly the programme of research). The literature review allows the student to demonstrate their ability to research and synthesise information from the published scientific literature. The field/laboratory notebook allows the students to demonstrate their organisational skills. The final report is presented in the form of a scientific paper which allows the student to demonstrate their scientific writing and critical thinking skills. The oral presentation and associated abstract allows the student to show that they can communicate effectively by summarising an in-depth investigation in both written and spoken formats.

Reading Lists