Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Research Methods
Code ENVS444
Coordinator Professor PM Burgess
Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2023-24 Level 7 FHEQ First Semester 15


The module aims to train students in the following:

Scientific journal-style writing;

The initial development of a research problem and the definition, presentation and defence of a research proposal;

Practical use and application of a small number of lab-based analytical and data-analytical techniques of broad relevance to the "Advanced Geology and Geology-Physical-Geography Project" module

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Knowledge and Understanding

On completion of this module, students should:

have an understanding of the principles and guidelines under which scientific research is pursued and communicated;

have an understanding of a number of analytical techniques and how they are applied to geoscience problems.

(LO2) Intellectual Abilities

On completion of this module, students should have developed the ability to;

devise a strategy for the execution of a research project.

(LO3) General Transferable Skills

On completion of this module student should:

be able to conduct a comprehensive yet selective literature search on a scientific topic;

be able to prepare and defend a scientific research proposal;

have gained insights into ethical behaviour in scientific research;

have gained an appreciation of the use of complex scientific equipment and an understanding of accuracy, precision and sample and data handling.

(S1) Organisational skills

(S2) Communication skills

(S3) IT skills

(S4) International awareness

(S5) Ethical awareness



This module commences with discussion-led seminars on what is research and how to define of a research project.

There are discussion-led seminars on writing research proposals, writing literature reviews and scientific papers and giving research presentations.

These are followed by workshops on a variety of analytical techniques such as SEM, X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray imaging, X-ray diffraction, laser particle size analysis, and thermal analysis.

There are also workshops on plotting and data analysis and using AI in geoscience.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1 – Discussion Groups (Seminar)
Description: Discussion groups of up to 3 hours, each relevant to the topics specified in the syllabus. Seminars are designed as guided discussion sessions on relevant topics
Attendance Recorded: yes

Teaching Method 2 - Workshops (Seminar)
Description: 3 hour workshops where students are exposed to both theory of functionality and practical use of scientific equipment and tools important in research
Attendance Recorded: yes

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours   50

Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 100


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Exam on research-level analysis of a published paper requiring the student to read the paper (recommended 30 minutes) and then answer set questions on the paper (recommended 90 minutes). This exam mu  120    40       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Research Proposal written in the form of a NERC small grant application This assessment is part of initial training for independent project. There is a resit opportunity. Standard UoL penalty a    40       
Defence of Research Proposal (oral asessment of the submitted research proposal) This assessment is part of initial training for independent project and there are no re-sits. However, in special ci    20       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.