The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonUndergraduate study

SOES3046 Independent research project (Oceanography, Marine Biology)

Module Overview

The Independent Research Project, or Dissertation, forms an extremely important part of the overall degree. This module represents an extended opportunity to develop independent real-world and applied research skills, in design, execution, analysis and synthesis of experiments and data sets. Students have the freedom to choose a project in a field of particular interest and can develop a completely novel proposal in consultation with an appropriate supervisor.

The output from this module, the report, is often used as an important guide by employers when considering the background and experience of recent graduates. To this end, the double module requires a sustained effort; it accounts for 25% of the third year mark within a 3 year programme and 16.5% of your final degree mark. As such, this module forms the most substantial single contribution to the final degree in your 3rd year.

Aims and Objectives


  • To develop skills in design, execution and analysis within the context of independent research in marine science.
  • To develop skills in project management.
  • To provide training in report writing.
  • To develop time management.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module you should be able to:

  1. Plan and execute an independent piece of scientific research with appropriate allowances for the time necessary to complete each stage.
  2. Undertake a literature review focused within a specific research area.
  3. Produce a scientific synthesis, interpretation and analysis of primary data gathered during execution.
  4. Produce a substantial well organised and written scientific report.
  5. Discuss the nature and conclusions of the project.

Key Skills Acquired

  • Design and execution of a field and/or laboratory-based research project, including literature research, data analysis and interpretation
  • Report writing and oral presentation
  • Scientific presentation methods
  • Time management
  • Experience of a range of computing facilities and software
  • Operation of a range of sophisticated laboratory and oceanographic equipment


The topics offered introduce theoretical and methodological approaches to the investigation and interpretation of marine biological and oceanographic research by practical, theoretical, or laboratory-based programmes. They may be based around collection of an original dataset through laboratory or fieldwork, or both, or an in-depth analysis of existing data and will always include opportunities for independent analysis and critical assessments of data. The projects allow you to gain practical experience in state of the art research in marine science and allow you to test the theories/practices encountered during lectures.

These studies are undertaken under the supervision of members of staff in OES and the NOCS.

Special Features

By its nature this module is independent and individual to every student. Projects can be tailored on an individual basis to the interests and requirements of students with special needs during the planning phase.

Learning and Teaching

Study time allocation

Contact hours:40
Private study hours:260
Total study time: 300 hours

Teaching and learning methods

Independent Project:

  • You will identify a project of interest together with a potential supervisor from a published list of research titles and summaries.
  • You will work in consultation with a project supervisor(s) to develop and execute the research.
  • Initial planning, and the development of the project occurs through regular meetings with the supervisor who also offers suitable advice on library search and review of appropriate literature, data analysis, interpretation and presentation.
  • Progress is monitored by the project supervisor and also through an initial registration report and a progress report reviewed by the relevant course coordinator.
  • Preparation of a project report.

A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Resources and reading list

Resources used through the library include papers and online journals. Guidance will be provided through the module Blackboard site and initially in consultation with the project supervisor.


Assessment methods

Logbook in Semester 1 and 2 (10% each): The project logbook is handed in for marking during week 12 of Semester 1 and again with your final report. A logbook is a diary of the plans and progress made during your project and documents ALL project activity, aims/plans for your work, progress made and results obtained. This will be marked by your supervisor. Tests Learning Outcomes 1 & 3.

Final project report (80%): Submitted at the end of the second week of the summer term this final report will provide a clear record of your data collection, analysis and interpretation. The discussion section will provide the readers with a clear idea of where the work sits in relation to the published literature. The skills you have learnt writing reports and essays throughout your University career will be utilised and developed in order to achieve this. The report is marked by your supervisor and a second marker.'


Programmes in which this module is compulsory

Compulsory and restricted to BSc honours students (except Geology) within Ocean and Earth Science. Cannot be taken with SOES3027 (Geology students only).

ProgrammeUCAS CodeProgramme length
BSc Marine Biology with OceanographyF7C13 years
BSc Oceanography (single honours)F7103 years
BSc Oceanography with Physical GeographyF7F83 years


Costs associated with this course

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:

Printing and copyingThe University printing costs are currently: A4 - 5p per side (black and white) or 25p per side (colour) A3 - 10p per side (black and white) or 50p per side (colour) Please Note: Paper sizes not recognised by the printing devices will prompt you to select the size and then charge a minimum of 50p per black and white copy and a maximum of £1 per colour copy. You can pay for your printing by using the money loaders or by using print copy payment service by going to Please remember that we are unable to refund any credit that has not been used by the end of your course, so please consider this when topping up your printing/copy account. The University Print Centre also offer a printing and copying service as well as a dissertation/binding service. Current printing and copying costs can be found here. They also provide a large format printing service, e.g. Academic posters. 5p - £1

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

FieldworkAccommodation: For compulsory residential field courses accommodation and travel are normally provided. You are usually expected to cover the costs of food and drink, although some courses may include meals. For optional field courses, you may be asked to make a contribution to the travel and/or accommodation costs.
FieldworkInsurances: Although travel insurance is covered by the University high risk items for example laptops and mobile phones will require separate personal insurance.
FieldworkTravel: For compulsory residential field courses accommodation and travel are normally provided. You are usually expected to cover the costs of food and drink, although some courses may include meals. For optional field courses, you may be asked to make a contribution to the travel and/or accommodation costs.
StationeryA ruler; a pair of compasses; set squares; protractor; pencils (including coloured); eraser; calculator; penknife.

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

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