PHY8002 : Research Skills I: Scientific Methods

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The overall aim of the module is to furnish the students with an understanding of the general scientific method and the principles of scientific literature, and the tools and skillset for accessing literature, scientific writing, production of publication-quality figures and animations, manipulation and management of data. Students will learn what information and structure need to be included in technical reports and journal publications. They will learn how to conduct extensive literature searches and how to cite references in documents. They will develop their skills at producing publication-standard figures. They will also become familiar with principles and practices of making research data freely available and abiding by ethical and data protection regulations. By the end of this module, students will have a detailed understanding of the expectations of publishing research articles and the generic skills to perform this.

Outline Of Syllabus

The content of this module is centred around the courses offered by the PGRDP and will cover four areas:

The scientific method and principles

Preparing documents with LaTeX and BIBTex

Writing and Literature Review

Data Manipulation and Graphs

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion801:0080:00Preparation and completion of research article
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading401:0040:00Reading list provided by project supervisor
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Tutorial on report preparation with project supervisor
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops361:0036:00Skills workshops offered as part of the PGRDP
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study401:0040:00Follow up on skills workshops
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

All knowledge outcomes, i.e computing software, report writing tools, literature databases, data management, etc. will be introduced in interactive workshops, allowing the students to immediately engage in a hands-on manner. These activities will be mainly organised by the Postgraduate Researcher Development Programme, with additional workshops run by the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics, where this is necessary to support the learning aims. Independent study will allow the student to deepen their expertise with these tools.

In a small group teaching setting taught by the research project supervisor, the students will discuss the reading materials and datasets that form the basis of a case study research article. The students will then bring this together with the lecture material as they construct a scientific synopsis of their case study paper, in which they assimilate aspects such as background and context, numerical results, a critical evaluation of the impact of the article, and produce publication-quality figures and tables to summarise the findings, all produced in LaTeX; covering the intended skill learning outcomes.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M100Scientific report based on a case study, 6-12 pages incl. appendices and references, plus 4-10 figures (4000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Project supervisors will provide a dataset(s) based on previous work which the students will analyse and produce a report that is formatted like a scientific publication. The report will test the student’s ability to critically evaluate a scientific article, to assimilate background information relating to the article, to critically evaluate the range of methodologies available to the article, to present a concise synopsis of the article presented up to a publication standard, including figures and tables.

Reading Lists