Advanced Research Skills

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Spring & Summer
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 27 June 2025
03 July 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MSC C56012 Biotechnology,
MSC C16112 Tropical Marine Biology,
MSC C133JS Cancer Biology,
MPHDC16148 Tropical Marine Biology,
MPHDC16184 Tropical Marine Biology,
PHD C16148 Tropical Marine Biology,
PHD C16184 Tropical Marine Biology

Module description

This module provides students with the research methods and analytical skills that are necessary to carry out a research project on a specific topic. This module is core for all MSc students.

Module aims

The aim of this module is:

  • To introduce students to research methods at a postgraduate level, with a focus on developing research ideas, undertaking a literature review and planning a research study.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge of techniques and approaches, including some computer packages, that are appropriate for a laboratory, field, or a computer-based research project.

  2. Demonstrate a critical awareness of current problems of their field of study.

  3. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research project.

  4. Critically evaluate and synthesise information from different published sources relevant to the topic.

  5. Demonstrate self-direction and originality in the development of a project proposal that is methodologically and ethically sound.

  6. Demonstrate independent learning ability and effective time management necessary to achieve objectives set.

  7. Plan and organise a scientific conference and deliver an oral presentation summarising their research project; this includes effective communication with conference speakers, chairs, attendees and other conference organisers.

Module information

Each student will be assigned to an appropriate supervisor who will advise on the preparation of the coursework.

  1. Literature review

Once assigned to a supervisor, students will be required to carry out a literature review in order to understand the breadth and depth of a particular scientific topic, to understand latest developments and to identify knowledge gaps. This literature review will contribute to the subsequent development of a project proposal, which will be the basis of the research project. Feedback will be provided by the supervisor.

  1. Project plan

Students will write a project plan that includes the background of the project, research question and approach to address the research question. Feedback will be provided by the supervisor.

All students will have lectures to make the coursework accessible and inclusive. They cover:

  1. Scientific writing, literature searching, plagiarism

  2. Scientific paper format

  3. Proposal writing and literature review

  4. Conference organisation

Furthermore, students will have lectures to introduce students to key concepts of research methodology relevant for Life Sciences, data analysis tools, academic integrity and health and safety.

  1. Health and safety; risk assessment

  2. Research methods

  3. Academic integrity

  4. Introduction to R

All students will participate in the organisation of the MSc student conference. They will also present the topic of their research project at the conference.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will combine a number of different teaching approaches, including lectures, group work and computer skills-based sessions.

This module will be delivered via:

  • Six 2-hour lectures
  • Two 1-hour lectures
  • Eight 1-hour meetings with project supervisor

Students are expected to undertake independent learning to build specialist knowledge in aspects of research design of their particular research topic. Individual support will be provided by the project supervisor who can offer a bespoke response to individual needs.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Identifying and discussing key pieces of literature
  • Suggesting and reviewing ideas and plans
  • Providing constructive criticism of written work



Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Literature Review    50% 
Coursework   Project Proposal    27.5% 
Practical   Conference Organisation     2.5% 
Practical   Conference Oral Presentation    20% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Andrea Mohr, email:
Dima Svistunenko, Ralf Zwacka, Julie Everett, Antonio Marco, Nathalie Hicks as well as members of staff acting as project supervisors.



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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