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Unit information: Research Methods and Dissertation in 2020/21

Unit name Research Methods and Dissertation
Unit code VETS30035
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Hezzell
Open unit status Not open

All 1st, 2nd and 3rd year units


All other 4th year units

School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


Initial lectures and workshops will cover experimental design, and analysis methods. An individual in-depth exploration of one aspect of Veterinary Nursing or Bioveterinary Science (for those students on the Veterinary Nursing and Bioveterinary Science programme) or Veterinary Nursing or none Veterinary Nursing project, relevant to behaviour and welfare(for those students on the Veterinary Nursing and Companion Animal Behaviour programme), involving the planning and execution of a piece of original research. Each student completes an individual piece of research under the supervision of one or more members of academic staff.


The dissertation will be expected to be in the style of a research thesis and a high first-class mark would indicate that the work was of publishable quality. Students will also be assessed via a presentation of findings. They will prepare and present a poster summarising their dissertation project.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit students will be able to:

1) Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the application of the principles of experimental design, the principles of survey design, and the principles of qualitative research for different sorts of research questions.

2) Justify the use of different forms of control and balance in the design of experimental, survey and

qualitative research protocols.

3) Appreciate the role of single subject and case studies in the advancement of science.

4) Critically evaluate published research including the designs used and the analysis of data in scientific reports and articles.

5) Select an appropriate research topic with guidance.

6) Show evidence of extended knowledge and understanding of the specific area.

7) Generate and test hypotheses using an appropriate experimental, observational or critical review approach.

8) Choose the most appropriate statistical test for quantitative data to be analysed

for significant differences or correlation, and perform tests of statistical significance to test hypotheses using interval, ordinal and frequency data.

9) Explain methods available for the analysis of qualitative data and be able to perform simple tests of association on such data.

10) Explain the use of multivariate statistical techniques for predicting outcomes and classifying data.

11) Analyse data and produce an overall synthesis and evaluation of the project work.

12) Demonstrate understanding of the ethical issues relating to the use of humans and non-human subjects in research.

13) Demonstrate of suitable oral and written communication skills including appropriate referencing.

Teaching details

During term 1 (weeks 1-10):

  • Descriptions of possible project topics sent to students.
  • Staff presentations of possible project topics.
  • Projects and supervisors allocated to students.
  • Series of lectures and case-study seminars introducing research-specific skills (including critical reasoning, experimental design, research ethics and statistics consolidation), coupled with formative DSE work.

Weeks 11-13: Background reading, preparation of review essay

Weeks 13-18: Data collection and analysis

Weeks 18-20: Dissertation writing

Final presentations timetabled with other final year exams

Assessment Details

The passmark for this unit is 40%

Formative Assessment:

Knowledge and skills of experimental design and analysis will be assessed formatively during the lecture and workshops.

The dissertation will be assessed as follows:

Practical performance during project work: 20% (ILO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13)

Dissertation: 70% (ILO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13)

Final presentation of findings: 10% (ILO13)


A referred Dissertation must be resubmitted by the middle of August in the year of original submission. In this event the practical performance mark (20%) will be carried forward whereas, the dissertation (70%) and final presentation (10%) will be reassessed.

Reading and References

Specific to individual projects: supervisors will provide guidance.