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The University of Southampton

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

Module Aims

1. To develop skills in design, execution and analysis within the context of independent research in marine science. 2. To develop skills in project management. 3. To provide training in report writing. 4. To develop time management.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Plan and execute an independent piece of scientific research with appropriate allowances for the time necessary to complete each stage.
  • Experience of a range of computing facilities and software.
  • Operation of a range of sophisticated laboratory and oceanographic equipment.
  • Undertake a literature review focused within a specific research area.
  • Produce a scientific synthesis, interpretation and analysis of primary data gathered during execution.
  • Produce a substantial well organised and written scientific report.
  • Discuss the nature and conclusions of the project.
  • 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.


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

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.

Independent Study260
Total study time300


Assessment Strategy

Final project report (80%): Submitted at the end of the second week of summer term this report (nominally 30 pages) 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. Tests Learning Outcomes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Logbook in Semesters 1 and 2: The logbook is handed in for marking 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 & 11.


MethodPercentage contribution
Logbook 20%
Project report 80%
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