AP1AE10-Research Skills for Environmental Management

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: Only available to students on the BSc Environmental Management
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Prof Simon Mortimer

Email: s.r.mortimer@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module is designed for  students on the BSc Environmental Management programme. Gain fundamental knowledge of the different research approaches used in the scientific and socio-economic disciplines encompassed by the subject. Explore approaches being employed in related research topics in the School of Agriculture, Policy & Development and develop skills in research through group work on a particular research area.

In addition, develop your study skills, including literature based research, digital literacy, data manipulation and analysis, scientific writing and presentation, along with transferable skills relevant to employment in the environmental management field such as team work, project planning, time management, risk assessment and ethics.


The aims of the module are:

  • To facilitate integration of knowledge learned on other modules on the course in different disciplines (scientific, socio-economic) and encourage application to problem solving in complex situations.

  • To provide exposure to current research in the field of environmental management, including inter-disciplinary approaches.

  • To develop students’ skills in gathering information from multiple sources, analysing and presenting data, and communicating the findings and implications of research.

  • To develop study skills in researching source material, referencing, writing and presenting, along with revision and exam technique.

  • To develop professional skills relevant to the processes by which environmental management is practiced, including team work, project planning and understanding the social context in which environmental issues are addressed.

Assessable learning outcomes:

On completion of this module it is expected that a student will be able to:

  • Apply knowledge, concepts and approaches from a range of disciplines to address complex environmental problems

  • Critically analyse, summarise and present information from a range of sources and correctly acknowledge sources

  • Formulate a relevant research question and related hypotheses and design, and execute a collaborative research project

  • Accurately collect and record information, store and manipulate data, and analyse using appropriate statistical software
  • Demonstrate the ability to write in various styles

  • Confidently present research findings and answer questions

  • Understand the importance of academic integrity

  • Show an awareness of ethical considerations, data protection procedures and relevant health and safety issues in planning research

  • Manage, evaluate and reflect upon their own learning style and personal approaches to study

  • Develop effective revision strategies and exam technique

Additional outcomes:

Develop a range of transferrable and employability skills including team work, written communication, verbal communication, time management, IT, critical analysis, numeracy, initiative, organisational, time management, negotiating, leadership, decision making, creativity, independence and a reflective approach to practice.

Outline content:

Autumn term:

Introductory seminar sessions will focus on the research approaches, data and sampling, research ethics, health and safety and project planning. This will be followed by consideration of the range of different research approaches being undertaken within the School.

Students will select a preferred research topic and apply skills in identifying source information and citing sources.  Students will work in small groups to develo p their research topic, supervised by a member of the School staff, through identification of a research question, testable hypotheses and an approach to gather data.

Spring term:

In the spring term the groups will implement their research project, and receive guidance in data manipulation, analysis and presentation from their project supervisor.  The groups will present their research to peers on the course.

The fina l part of the Spring term will build on experience of the research process and encourage a reflective approach to students understanding of their personal styles of study, research and role within a team context.  Additional seminars will cover the relevance to career pathways, opportunities for developing skills and gaining experience, and sessions on revision and exam technique.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The early part of the course will comprise a series of seminars focussing on study and research skills.  In the second half of the Autumn term the approach will switch to supervised small group work with peers on the course, researching the background to a research topic and devising a research plan.  In the first half of the Spring term the small groups will implement their research plan, analyse the data, formulate the findings and present their work.  Finally, at the end of the Spring term a number of seminars will cover reflection on personal learning style, evaluation of role within teams and relevance to development of appropriate professional skills.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 8 6
Project Supervision 4 4
Practicals classes and workshops 8 20
Guided independent study: 30 20
Total hours by term 50 50
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Oral assessment and presentation 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

There are three components:

  1. A written statement of research questions and hypotheses, along with a Gantt chart showing timing of activities for the research project (25%, submitted late Autumn term)

  2. A group presentation outlining the objectives, methods, results and conclusions of the research project (50%, presented mid Spring term)

  3. A reflective account outlining a personal evaluation of personal learning style, role within a team setting and personal career aspirations (25%, submitted early Summer term)

Formative assessment methods:

Students will undertake a formative assignment on correct formatting of references.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A mark of 40% overall. 

Reassessment arrangements:

By the submission of a written assignment on a new topic. 

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books: None required.

2) Specialist equipment or materials:

3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: Students may need sturdy footwear, warm clothing and waterproofs for fieldwork.  

4) Printing and binding:

5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: 

6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 12 May 2020


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