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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

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


The philosophy underlying this module is to empower students to take charge of their own learning in the 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

Teaching and learning methods

During the module the student will join the research group of a member of staff whose area o research the student has chosen, and who will be the project supervisor. The emphasis will be on independent working, but there will be some support from the more senior members of the group as well as from the supervisor. Informal formative feedback will be given regularly and as appropriate. Formal formative feedback will be given based on interim progress reports.

Independent Study530
Supervised time in studio/workshop50
Project supervision20
Total study time600

Resources & Reading list

A comprehensive resource pack is provided on Blackboard at the beginning of the course.. 


Assessment Strategy

The performance of the students will be assessed through: - Quality and originality of research idea - Quality of project planning - Quality of interim progress reports - Quality of final project report Students will be assessed for: - Clarity of expression and overall quality of final report - Following instructions on report format and length - Quantity and quality of data/results/observations - Critical evaluation of prior work - Critical analysis and interpretation of data/results/observations from the project - Evidence of original thinking - Quality of record keeping and compliance with Health & Safety requirements. The students will also be assessed through their performance during a short viva voce examination They will be assessed on: - overall understanding of the context of the project (e.g. prior work, potential societal impact of findings) - synoptic understanding of broad science principles relevant to the project - ability to answer questions precisely and concisely - ability to discuss critically and interpret data/results/observations


Interim Report


MethodPercentage contribution
Final Report 60%
Viva voce 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Literature review 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


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:


There are no additional costs associated with this module.

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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