The University of Southampton
Courses

BIOL6051 MRes Wildlife Conservation Research Project

Module Overview

This module provides two-thirds of the content for the MRes Wildlife Conservation programme. During it you will develop research skills, as you work closely with a Marwell Conservation Biologist and University of Southampton supervisor to propose a detailed methodology for your research project. You will then have the unique experience of undertaking that extensive research project at one of Marwell Wildlife’s conservation sites, in the UK or abroad. During this process you will have the opportunity to become part of an existing and dynamic team of practicing conservation biologists.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To provide you with an opportunity for original and independent research, which may involve both practical and theoretical component. • To develop a research project in sufficient depth to produce a piece of work which is publishable in the refereed scientific literature. • To develop your skills in scientific computing, critical analysis of scientific literature, teamwork, time management, and written and oral presentation.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identity novel research areas.
  • Critically review the literature in an area of science that is new to you.
  • Analyse and interpret new scientific results.
  • Assess the wider significance of these results, including any commercial applications.
  • Plan and complete a research project within a fixed time period.
  • Produce a thorough but concise scientific report.

Syllabus

In semester 1 you will attend small group tutorials, which will cover research skills including: science communication – posters, seminars, scientific papers; critical evaluation; employability skills; online presence, including blogs and social media; grant applications. In semester 2, you will write a detailed research proposal, reviewing the field and defining your project within it, for submission at the beginning of February; example proposals in a variety of fields will be available for guidance. The research project will then run from February to September. The project will be linked to on-going conservation science at Marwell Wildlife, and may involve the acquisition of new data, the analysis of existing data in a novel way, or the development and testing of a new method. The project is expected to lead to results which are publishable in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and outcomes which have a material effect on applied conservation work.

Special Features

This module provides you with the unique experience of undertaking your research project with practising conservation biologists at Marwell Wildlife. There are only a limited number of projects at each site, so students should spend semester 1 developing their idea, with the programme tutors, in order to undertake the project that is the best fit for them. Data collection for research projects may take place at one or more of Marwell Wildlife’s conservation sites in: Hampshire, UK, Tunisia, Kenya and Zimbabwe, depending on the scope and remit of the project. All students will have the opportunity to base themselves at Marwell Zoo, with the existing team of Conservation Biologists, or at the University for the remainder of their work. Particular needs will be catered for when students choose their project, including site accessibility. Students will choose their preferred project location upon application because this will affect programme fees. Following interview, students will be allocated to a project, taking into account their preferred location and particular requirements of each student.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Study time allocation [Contact time includes: Lectures, seminars, tutorials, project supervision, demonstration, practicals/workshops/fieldwork/external visits/work based learning] Contact time: 12 hours of small group tutorials in semester 1; regular meetings with project supervisors from Marwell Wildlife and Centre for Biological Sciences throughout the year (88). Private study hours: 1100 (this includes: writing the research proposal, data collection and analysing, writing the report) Total study time: 1200 Teaching and Learning Methods Tutorials throughout semester 1 will develop your research skills, you will then begin to put these into practice, first in writing your project proposal and then in carrying out your research project.

TypeHours
Project supervision88
Independent Study1100
Tutorial12
Total study time1200

Resources & Reading list

Bond, A. Your Master’s thesis. 

Biggam, J. Succeeding with your Master’s dissertation a step-by-step handbook. 

Schimel, J. Writing science: how to write papers that get cited and proposals that get funded. 

Ruxton, G.D. & Colegrave, N. Experimental design for the life sciences. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Oral presentation and oral examination: A 20-30 minutes oral presentation of the work undertaken for your research project followed by a 30 min oral examination in the presence of an external and an internal examiner. Tests Learning Outcomes 3, 4, 6. Project (80%): A report (max. 10000 words) written in the style of a paper for a Research Journal. Tests Learning Outcomes 3, 4, 5, 6. Re-assessment Method Research proposal (5000 words) covering both the background to the chosen topic (i.e. a literature review), a description of the planned work (including an outline timetable) and an explanation of any resources required for the project. Tests Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 5. Oral presentation and oral examination: A 20-30 minutes oral presentation of the work undertaken for your research project followed by a 30 min oral examination in the presence of an external and an internal examiner. Tests Learning Outcomes 3, 4, 6. Project (80%): Resubmission of dissertation.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation  ( words) 80%
Poster Presentation and Oral Examination  (60 minutes) 10%
Research proposal  ( words) 10%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation  ( words) 80%
Poster Presentation and Oral Examination  (60 minutes) 10%
Research proposal  ( words) 10%

Costs

Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

Students who undertake research abroad will have to pay for their travel to a UK airport (travel and accommodation in the country of data collection is included in tuition fees).

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

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