Skip to main content


Research Project

Module titleResearch Project
Module codeBIO3136
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Christopher Laing (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Doing a genuinely original piece of scientific research is a crucial part of being trained as a scientist. In this module you will get hands on experience of participating in world-class scientific research, guided by professional researchers. You will learn how to design, plan and implement a self-contained scientific research project. Moreover, you will learn how to analyse the data you collect using state-of-the-art analysis techniques and how to write up the study as a scientific paper in a leading international peer reviewed journal.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module seeks to help you to develop, plan and conduct a research project. Through your work you will develop communication and other transferable skills including the handling and manipulation of datasets, project management, troubleshooting, reporting results of research, and working in collaboration with other researchers to develop teamwork skills, all key employability skills.

This module hands research-led enquiry over to you, the student, and allows you to tackle real-world problems and questions that could ultimately lead to your specialism in the field. The module will expose you to some of the latest developments in the fields of animal behaviour, conservation biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, marine biology and zoology and ultimately pave the way into a deeper understanding of evidence-based scientific enquiry.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Utilise scientific skills appropriate to a particular research discipline within animal behaviour, ecology, conservation biology, zoology or evolutionary biology
  • 2. Plan, design, and execute a research project
  • 3. Analyse, interpret, and present scientific data in both written and oral form

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Describe in detail and analyse essential facts and theory of a sub-discipline of biosciences
  • 5. Analyse and evaluate independently a range of research-informed literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 6. Identify and implement, with limited guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for solving a range of complex problems in biosciences
  • 7. With minimal guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within biosciences
  • 8. Describe and evaluate in detail approaches to our understanding of biosciences with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 10. Communicate arguments effectively, giving evidence and conclusions using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 11. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data and complete a range of research-like tasks with very limited guidance
  • 12. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to graduate-level professional and practical skills, and act autonomously to develop new areas of skills as necessary
  • 13. Reflect effectively and independently on learning experiences and evaluate personal achievements

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The Summer Term of the second year will be used for background reading and planning. You will produce a Research Plan (not exceeding 1000 words/10 references) showing evidence of background reading and planning, which will be reviewed at the beginning of the Autumn Term of the final year by the project supervisor prior to data collection. The experimental or investigative work for most projects will take place in the Winter term of the third year, unless the project specifically indicates otherwise. This should normally occupy 14 hours per week, and will be in addition to the demands of the normal stage three course work.. You will meet with your project supervisor on a regular basis to discuss your progress.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching 8Project work is conducted in conjunction with a research supervisor, who will provide individual guidance in project development, implementation, and in data analysis, interpretation, and presentation.
Guided independent study 392Project work will involve practical implementation of animal behaviour, marine biology, ecology, conservation biology, zoology or evolutionary biology related techniques, and these are employed in a context appropriate to the research discipline.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Preliminary project plan – including a working title, general overview of the project area, details of the relevant literature, key research questions, methodology, timescale/research plan and bibliography1000 words with no more than 10 referencesAllMeeting with project supervisor prior to beginning data collection

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Conference presentation – you will present your project work to each other and assessors 208 minutes 1-11Written
Final project report – the format of the project report must conform to the style of a 'letter' in Ecology Letters805000 words exclusive of references, tables, lists etc1-11Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Project presentationRecorded project presentation1-11August
Final project reportFinal project report1-11August

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to resubmit your project report. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • As directed by the supervisor.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Research project, experimental design, science communication, data collection, data handling, project management, time management, collaboration, animal behaviour, ecology, conservation biology, zoology, evolutionary biology

Credit value40
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites

BIO3134 Preparing to Graduate

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date