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MST8022 : Environmental Research Skills (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Alan Jamieson
  • Other Staff: Dr William Reid, Dr Heather Sugden
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Understanding approaches to conduct of academic and commercial coastal marine environmental research, survey and consultancy, including proposal writing, project planning, sampling design, survey, statistical analysis and scientific reporting.

A unique module taking students through practical, technical and statistical approaches to survey design and description of change in marine habitats and species.

Outline Of Syllabus

Statistical analysis of ecosystem data (AJ, WR): Basic statistical techniques including correlation, regression, pair-wise tests, ANOVAs; selection of appropriate statistics and consequences for sampling design; introduction to R; introduction to the PRIMER package, including MDS, Anosim and PCA, and applications to analysis of multivariate data (2 days).

Shore based sampling (HS): Planning and delivering biological surveys, hard and soft substrata and intertidal sampling strategy and methods, interpretation of data on richness, diversity, extent and rarity in relation to spatial scale. Detecting and addressing systematic sampling error, introduction to data manipulation and analysis (3 days).

Boat based sampling (AJ, MMM): Planning and delivering boat based surveys, hard and soft substrata. Cost-effectiveness in sampling strategy and methods, interpretation of data as above. Introduction to novel methods (2 days).

Survey design and delivery group exercise (3 days).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture28:0016:00Statistical teaching in lectures and computer labs
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion38:0024:00Assessed statistical assignment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00Assessed survey report
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading136:0036:00Includes background reading and review of lecture notes for a full understanding of material.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork38:0024:00Shore survey teaching in lectures, seminar form and on shores around Cullercoats
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork28:0016:00Boat survey teaching in lectures, seminar form and on waters around Blyth
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork38:0024:00Boat group work
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

A mixture of seminars, class discussion, computing practicals and field work will be used to introduce several key marine environmental research techniques. Students will work in small groups for practical and field work and class presentation of results, and participate in group discussion. Use of worksheets on statistics, introduced in practical sessions, and completed in students' own time will supplement teaching in practicals and seminars.

Practical classes provide formative assessment of students' progress in developing key transferable practical skills in statistics, shore and boat based survey methods. These allow students to assess their skills as they explore a range of exercises (ISO1-4). Seminars provide feedback during development of these skills. The strong emphasis on practical skills is because these are what is required in the workplace. However, they need to be underpinned by a sound theoretical understanding of principles. The lectures and practicals are integrated so that they mutually reinforce each other.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M25Statistical analysis and write-up - approx 15 hours
Report1M75Assessed boat based survey report.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The mapping /GIS report will assess student learning from the mapping project, the report offering scope for individuals to explore and research particular technical issues in derivation of maps, use of GIS for rapid assessment techniques and data analysis. Assessment of the reports on statistics and survey design will include criteria for structure, clarity, originality and analytical detail.

Practical classes provide formative assessment of students’ progress in developing transferable practical skills in statistics, shore and boat based survey methods, and spatial processing and interpretation by means of seminars and workbook materials which allow students to assess their skills as they explore a range of exercises.

Subsequently, the practical reports provide a summative assessment of the development of their practical computer and numeracy skills in an environmental context.

These transferable skills are most valuable in the job market and thus the primary focus is on developing and assessing these.
The Graduate Skills Framework entries indicated as 'A' are also assessed in this way.

An alternative assessment will be set for any Semester 1 Study Abroad student taking this module, who will not be in Newcastle during the January assessment period.

Reading Lists