IDM071-Research and study skills for independent learning

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Admission onto module by GIIDAE
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2015/6

Module Convenor: Dr Nick Bardsley


Summary module description:
Through lectures, tutorials and coursework, students are made aware of the standards expected and are given opportunity to develop the skills required to study and research at postgraduate level.

The aim of the module is to help students develop skills needed to produce good dissertations and coursework at postgraduate level.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate good academic practice in use, citation and referencing of source material
  • explain the meaning of "plagiarism" both as poor academic practice and as a disciplinary issue within higher education, and implement strategies to avoid it
  • use appropriate bibliographic sources and tools to identify literature relevant to a given topic
  • synthesise, compare and contrast the main lines of argument relating to specific assignments and their chosen dissertation topic
  • communicate their research clearly in writing and orally to academic staff and their peers.

Additional outcomes:

  • make effective use of academic and other support services for students at the University of Reading
  • engage in critical discussion of other people’s ideas and presentations.

Outline content:

  • lectures and discussion on:
- overview of academic support services at the University of Reading
- some key research methods and related resources
- searching, referencing, using the literature; strategies to avoid plagiarism
- approaches to writing a dissertation
- presenting your research to others
  • oral presentations by students to staff and peers
  • individual and/or group discussions with dissertation supervisor and programme director

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Lectures, group discussions, oral presentations, individual (desk) research, discussions with dissertation supervisor

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 18
Guided independent study 22 60
Total hours by term 40.00 60.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 70
Oral assessment and presentation 30

Other information on summative assessment:
1. A seminar presentation based on the student’s dissertation research, to be delivered to a group of peers and academic staff in the Spring Term (30%).
2. A research briefing relevant to their dissertation topic, covering relevant literature and ideas for research, of up to 3000 words, and assessed by the dissertation supervisor, to be submitted on the Friday of the first week of the Summer Term (70%)
Relative percentage of coursework: 100%

Formative assessment methods:
A formative assignment will be given early in Term 1 to provide an opportunity for students to develop their understanding of writing and performance requirements before they submit their first course essay assignments for other modules at the end of the Term 1. This will be due by the third week of term and will be returned by the fifth week to ensure students receive feedback on performance. The assignment is compulsory (no credits will be earned without its completion) but failure to submit will result in a 20% reduction of the course mark.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
A mark of 50%.

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework.

Last updated: 26 March 2015

Things to do now