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NUT3102 : Research Project

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gerry O'Brien
  • Demonstrator: Dr Daniel Henderson
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 20.0


- To provide experience of primary research on a current topic in food & human nutrition
- To give the opportunity to develop research skills
- To encourage students to develop strategies for problem solving
- To assist students to develop skills in the critical analysis of scientific evidence
- To assist students to develop skills in the presentation of results and conclusions in written format [poster, structured abstract and extended dissertation], and orally [presentation of poster]

Outline Of Syllabus

This is the largest component of the final year's work worth 40 credits. Each student will undertake a novel piece of supervised research and prepare a dissertation, a structured abstract [such as would be suitable for submission to a Learned Society], and a poster presentation summarising the results of the project. The following comments on the methods of assessment are intended to guide students in what is expected from them in this module. The student’s application and work during the project will be assessed by the supervisor (if there is joint supervision, the first named supervisor will take this responsibility) [20% of the module mark]. The abstract will be assessed by the module leader and other academic staff [10% of the module mark]; the poster will be assessed by the module leader and other academic staff [10% of the module mark]; the dissertation will be assessed by two independent markers appointed by the module leader [60% of the module mark].

(a) Assessment
Performance in the following areas will be examined.
NB Not all of these areas will necessarily be relevant to all projects.

1. Literature searching and use of existing knowledge base
2. Ability to design experiments
3. Laboratory/ experimental skills
4. Ability to cope with experimental problems
5. Care in collection and recording of data
6. Ability to analyse data and interpret results
7. Preparation of the dissertation including:

- Relevance and depth of the Introduction
- Statement of hypothesis and experimental design
- Description of methodology
- Presentation and interpretation of results
- Critical discussion of results
- Overall presentation of dissertation

The independent markers will base their assessment on the dissertation as presented (Area 7) whilst the supervisor will take note of performance in all areas.

The supervisor will give feedback both verbally and written comments onto a printed version of the draft. Supervisors will not make corrections directly onto an electronic version of the document. For the introduction, experimental and results sections the feedback will relate to content, structure and organisation, presentation and use of English. For the discussion, which should demonstrate the student’s own interpretations of their own work, comment from supervisors will be limited to structure and organisation, presentation and use of English. It is the student’s responsibility to modify the draft based on the feedback from their supervisor.

About a week before final submission, on a date agreed with their supervisor, the student should submit, electronically, the second, and final, draft of all sections of their dissertation so that their supervisor can consider it in its entirety. Feedback from supervisors on the second draft will be limited to comments on structure, organisation and presentation. Students will then have a final opportunity to revise their dissertation before submission. [Note: students suffering from relevant disabilities will be permitted to submit more than two drafts of each section to their supervisors but comments on content will only be made with respect to the first draft].

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture91:009:00Describe project. Academic writing. Data presentation. Prep for abstract and poster for assessment.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1150:00150:00Writing of 12,500 word dissertation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion15:005:00Poster presentation session
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion15:005:00Preparation of poster
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion15:005:00Preparation of abstract
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical32:006:00Computer sessions to practice IT procedures for information retrieval and dissertation writing
Guided Independent StudyProject work1170:00170:00Experimental work, literature review and methodological development
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision150:0050:00Tutor supervision meetings with student
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The honours project and dissertation provide a unique opportunity for assisted private study and research of a topic selected by the student. Students select a topic of choice from a range of projects provided by academic staff. The students complete plans for the practical element of their research project with their supervisor and her/his research team. In this way the student gains experience in project design and management. Where necessary the student may assist in the submission of material for ethical approval before commencing data collection.

The students receive instruction on writing styles, storing reference information in Endnote and formatting thesis in the lectures which accompany the module. This is followed up with a seminar of practical guidance on these topics in the computer cluster. The students develop skills in preparation of two pieces of academic writing – a constrained and structured abstract suitable for submission to a Learned Society (such as the Nutrition Society) and a larger dissertation. They develop skills in preparation of this work to a high standard. In the second semester progress of the projects is discussed in a seminar encouraging self-reflection of progress and achieving targets for completion of the work. The students also receive guidance on how to prepare posters which builds on similar instructions given during Induction Week.

The supervisor provides active guidance during the practical elements of the research and so the student gains relevant experience in data collection and recording. For the dissertation the student is required to search relevant literature using a range of resources after initial guidance from the supervisor. For the written dissertation the student gains experience and training in information retrieval, interpretation, report writing skills and, where relevant, with statistical analysis of data. The preparation of the abstract teaches the students how to write in a very structured manner, following precise formatting and word count instructions such as would be necessary if the work were submitted to a Learned Society. We will use the Nutrition Society guidelines for submission of Original Communications as the basis for the abstract. The poster presentation develops verbal and visual presentation skills and the ability to discuss the scientific principles underlying the research project.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M10One-page abstract following strict formatting guidelines provided
Poster2M10Assessment of poster and presentation of poster by student
Dissertation2M20Supervisor's assessment
Dissertation2M60Dissertation maximum 10,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment process includes the project supervisor who appraises the student's abilities in areas such as time management, problem solving and practical skills which may not be evident from the dissertation. The latter forms the basis for assessing the student's ability to undertake research, to test a hypothesis, to analyse and interpret results and to draw conclusions in the light of existing knowledge. The structured abstract assesses the ability of the student to summarise their project in a concise and structured manner suitable for publication. The oral presentation/poster presentation assesses communication skills.

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