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The University of Southampton

NATS6007 Research Placement in Natural Sciences

Module Overview

The definition of a scientific research project, its planning, execution, recording and reporting, are core skills in science. This module, which involves a full time placement, provides an opportunity for students to develop skills in formulating and conducting independent research while working on a well-defined scientific problem or question.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The overall aim of this module is to provide students their first experience of undertaking a coherent piece of independent original research. It builds on the experience gained in the third year project module by affording students an environment in which they can focus exclusively on their research work and developing their skills. This will equip our students with independent research skills that together with experimental skills, knowledge acquisition skills and critical thinking skills will enable them to undertake original research across the whole range of the natural sciences. The students will join an established research group within the University to work on a multidisciplinary research problem that they will define through discussion with potential supervisors. The projects, which will be multidisciplinary in nature, will be supervised by members of staff who are members of the Southampton Natural Sciences College – a group set up to promote a research environment suited to the training needs of the Natural Sciences students.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • an overview of current exciting areas of multidisciplinary research in the natural sciences, and the contexts in which this research is conducted
  • understanding risk assessments and safety evaluations of experimental work.
  • assessing the amount and nature of the work that is required for a given original research project
  • identifying resources needed for a given research project.
  • Formulating an hypothesis, framing a well-posed scientific question or defining a clear discovery strategy
  • planning, conducting and writing up a critical review of prior work relevant to the project.
  • planning experimental work when outcomes are uncertain.
  • execution of practical work and real-time evaluation of, and reflection on, the outcomes of processes or procedures.
  • concise and precise reporting of experimental findings and observations.
  • developing robust methods of maintaining clear and complete records of activity


conduct of experimental scientific research. As a consequence the module will make extensive use of directed self-learning methods. The course will be delivered in the context of identifying and answering a specific scientific question, or of testing a hypothesis, or of a discovery process. The module will cover: 1. Developing a clear understanding of the proposed area of work. 2. assessing the resources needed to bring the project to a successful conclusion 3. identifying project risks (non health & safety) 4. preparing a project plan, including identifying specific objectives, milestone and the use of GANTT and PERT charts as appropriate 5. use of a range of resources (including on line resources) to find and retrieve relevant literature 6. writing regular project progress updates 7. conducting risk assessments and safety evaluations of experimental work. 8. using specialist equipment and facilities effectively and safely. 9. execution of practical work and real-time evaluation of, and reflection on, the outcomes of processes or procedures. 10. applying the conceptual skills acquired during the first two years of the programme to the analysis and interpretation of data/results. 11. working as part of a team towards common group objectives 12. reporting of experimental findings and observations in the form of a draft scientific research paper aimed for publication in a peer-reviewed journal 13. maintaining clear and complete records of activity

Learning and Teaching

Independent Study530
Total study time600



MethodPercentage contribution
Final Report 60%
Viva voce 40%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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