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Unit information: Research Skills in 2018/19

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Unit name Research Skills
Unit code VETSM0042
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Rooney
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


The aim of this unit is to provide students with an advanced training in research methods that will prepare them for their forthcoming research project (VETSM0040) and any future research that they may pursue. The unit will introduce how to:

  • search for and review the scientific literature
  • generate hypotheses and meaningful research questions
  • work as a group and individually to design and plan rigorous scientific studies
  • write grant proposals to generate potential funding
  • source, analyse and interpret qualitative and quantitative data, including the use of statistical software
  • present results in a clear and unambiguous manner
  • write technical reports and scientific research papers, including citing references and avoiding plagiarism
  • incorporate ethical and Health and Safety principles into study design, and prepare risk assessments

Intended learning outcomes

On completing this unit students should be able to demonstrate that they have acquired a research skills platform which will allow them to carry out independent research. In particular, they should be able to:

  • articulate research questions
  • design and plan a research project
  • research, digest and critique the scientific literature
  • source, manage and correctly analyse and interpret data
  • structure and write a comprehensive scientific report
  • give a clear and effective oral presentation
  • understand health and safety principles, and ethical considerations

Teaching details

This unit will involve a mixture of lectures, case studies, plenary discussions and presentations. Practical sessions in a computer laboratory will provide the opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience using electronic search engines, bibliographic tools and statistical software.

Assessment Details

The student’s performance on this unit will be assessed using:

  • an oral and poster presentation by each student describing and critiquing the research methodology used to solve a wildlife research problem, sourced from the scientific literature (30%).
  • a mini research project conducted as a group and reported individually (35%).
  • a written grant proposal introducing and justifying the forthcoming independent research project (35%).

Reading and References

The following are some examples of basic texts - others will be recommended by the individual tutors during their teaching sessions:

  • Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Davies, W.M. (2008) Study Skills for International Postgraduates. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Dytham, C. (2010) Choosing and Using Statistics: A Biologist’s Guide. (3rd ed.) Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Hughes, P. & Ferrett, E. (2011) Introduction to Health and Safety at Work. (5th ed.) Butterworth-Heinemann
  • Pears, R. & Shields, G. (2005) Cite Them Right: The Essential Guide to Referencing and Plagiarism (6th Ed.). Pear Tree Books.
  • Wallace, M. & Wray, A. (2011) Critical reading and writing for postgraduates. Sage Publications Ltd.