NAT-20001 - Research Skills for Natural Scientists
Coordinator: Katie Szkornik Room: WSF28 Tel: +44 1782 7 33614
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733615

Programme/Approved Electives for 2020/21


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2020/21

This module comprises a series of workshops in which Natural Sciences students will develop skills in searching and reviewing academic literature relating to current interdisciplinary debates/discourses, formulating research questions, and framing aims and objectives. Students will be introduced to the philosophy of science and will receive training in a wide range of both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and in undertaking ethical and safe research. Alongside producing a critical literature review, students will design a piece of research achievable as a third year dissertation project, therefore preparing students for their 3rd year independent project work.

This module aims to provide training in a wide range of both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies appropriate for an interdisciplinary degree, therefore preparing Natural Sciences students for their 3rd year independent project work. The module will equip students with the necessary research skills, including literature searching, research planning, design, and execution, to facilitate successful completion of final year independent projects.

Intended Learning Outcomes

effectively search and critically review the academic literature relating to a current interdisciplinary debate/discourse: 1,2
frame research questions, aims and objectives, and design effective and achievable research/experimental projects: 2
reflect on the potential risks associated with independent research as well as the moral and ethical issues of any research project: 2
recognise and make choices between the different methodological approaches to interdisciplinary research: 2

Study hours

24 hours workshops (1-hr per week)
8 small group tutorials (4 per semester)
50 hours research and producing critical literature review
30 hours researching and producing a research proposal
38 hours reading, workshop preparation and follow-up

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Literature Review weighted 70%
A 2,000 word critical literature review
A 2000-word critical literature review, with accompanying reference list, which focuses on the student's chosen area of research. It is anticipated that the literature review will directly feed into the student's research proposal (Assessment 2) and the student's final year research project (NAT-30002).

2: Research Proposal weighted 30%
A 1,500 word research proposal, achievable as a third year independent research project (ISP)
A research proposal (maximum of 1,500 words, plus risk assessment and preliminary ethics review form) which comprises of the following components: a research question; the background and context for the proposal research (scientific justification); clearly identified aims and objectives; an outline of methods and data sources; a realistic and achievable research timetable; a completed risk assessment and preliminary ethics review form. It is anticipated that the research proposal will build upon the student's critical literature review. Students will present and review other student's research ideas as part of a formative peer-assessment exercise within small group tutorials.