ACE3081 : Ecology and Environment Research (Inactive)

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The objectives of the module are to enable students:
• To gain an awareness and understanding of a range of topics that are at the cutting edge of environmental science and ecology
• To develop an understanding of the scientific research process, including: literature review, hypothesis formulation, study design, data collection, data analysis, interpretation and deductive and inductive reasoning.
• To acquire new specialist skills in field and laboratory techniques (e.g. chemical analysis of samples, species identification)
• To gain experience in both individual project management and work within a team environment
• To develop transferable skills in report writing, oral presentation delivery, independent study, critical thinking and the analysis of data.

Outline Of Syllabus

Summer term (year 2)

1. Presentations of research topics and central questions by participating staff members
2. Selection of general research topic by students and allocation of sub topics/questions to students
3. Discussion and planning sessions of overall research approach
4. Reconnaissance field trip to site
5. Reflection and planning (group submits initial research plan)

Autumn-Winter term (year 3)

6. Residential field class week. Students learn techniques and adapt their methodology for first day or two then collect the final data in the next few.
7. Follow up practical and data analysis sessions. Students meet with tutor throughout winter term to discuss project. Some students may also conduct lab work in this period depending on the project.
8. Project write-up of individual sections and preparation of presentation
9. Group conference – students present their research to the rest of the class
10. Submission of personal report and group poster of the larger research question

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Group work on presentation preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture32:006:00Initial presentations to students (3 x 2 hours from each tutor)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00Background reading and write-up of individual component (inc personal report & risk assessment)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Poster prep
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture12:002:00Conference session in which group present findings
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading41:004:00Reflection, private study and topic selection
Guided Independent StudyProject work115:0015:00Laboratory and data analysis follow up work
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:008:00Follow-up practical workshops and synthesis guiding
Guided Independent StudyProject work115:0015:00Preparation of initial study plan
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Follow up session to field trip
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Planning with tutor of overall research approach
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork150:0050:00Residential field class week
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00Reconnaissance field trip
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity32:006:00Student-led planning sessions and initial background reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This course aims to give students experience of conducting real research, while also ensuring that they experience team working in a field environment. By doing so it develops a knowldge of the research process and filed methodologies (see knowledge outcomes) and a range of skills that classroom teaching methods do not.

The introductory summer phase is essential for preparing the students for their research project as it allows for briefing and more effective fieldwork later in the module.

The relationship between the assessments and the learning outcomes are described in full in the skills outcomes section.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation201M10Group PowerPoint presentation at student conference
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research proposal1M10Project planning report and risk assessment (1000 words per group)
Research paper1M50Individual research report (2000 words)
Prof skill assessmnt1M10Tutor assessment
Report1A20Group synthesis poster
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessments aim to test the very broad range of skill learning objectives of the module.

The project planning report (one per group) presents their research question, overall research approach and the design of their study. This assesses a range of skills in project management and health and safety assessment.

The personal research report will be in scientific report format detailing the student’s sub-project. By requiring submission in the format of a specific journal according to instructions for authors it assesses attention to detail, working to a brief

The tutor assessment criteria include categories for individual effort, lab and field practice, record keeping and team work and will include an assessment of many of the personal skills that are difficult to assess in formal assessments.

The PowerPoint presentation requires groups to present their findings to the class in a conference format, including individual presentation and a synthesis statement and answer questions relating to it.

The group synthesis poster requires students to outline the broad, group level research problem, discuss the existing literature and reference their own personal reports as if they were papers, before discussing how their results advance knowledge of the area and presenting a synthesis of their own findings within the larger. This will teach students skills in teamwork, consensus building, and demonstrate how findings of small research projects fit within the bigger picture.

Research Proposal 1 submitted in September (week before induction week), to enable students to complete their work in time for field course in induction week.

Reading Lists