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The University of Southampton

BIOL6086 Evolution: From the Galapagos to the 21st Century

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

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

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • 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.


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 Evolutionary biology Research, 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 that are publishable in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Special Features

This module provides you with the unique experience of undertaking your research project with researchers across the university asking evolutionary questions. Different areas of research can be chosen, but any individual researcher can only accommodate 1 or 2 students. Students should have some idea of what area of research they want to study before starting MRes Evolution: from Galapagos to the 21st Century, and a project supervisor will be assigned on that basis. Data collection for research projects may take place in Academic Units across the UoS, or at an identified affiliated institution. Particular needs will be catered for when students choose their project, including site accessibility. Students will choose their preferred project location upon application to aid in programme structure for the period of study. Following interview, students will be allocated to a project, taking into account their preferred topic and particular requirements of each student.

Learning and Teaching

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.

Private study hours1200
Total study time1300



MethodPercentage contribution
Oral presentation 10%
Project 80%
Research proposal 10%
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