APMA110-Research Methods: Agriculture, Ecology and Environment

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Level:7
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Robbie Girling

Email: r.girling@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
This is a module in research methods designed to provide students with the relevant knowledge and skills required to design and conduct an independent Masters level research project in agriculture, ecology and the environment. The module will provide training in experimental design and statistics, field study techniques and the use of R for data manipulation and analysis. It will also introduce students to the types of research conducted in agriculture, ecology and the environment across a variety of research organisations as part of a one-week field course.

Aims:
This module aims to develop students’ knowledge and skills in employing research methods in agriculture, ecology and the environment.

Assessable learning outcomes:
At the end of this module students will be able to:
•Identify a question, form an appropriate testable hypothesis and design a suitable experiment incorporating relevant research methods and statistical analyses.
•Evaluate, select and apply appropriate field studies techniques to answer questions in agricultural, ecological and environmental research
•Select and apply relevant quantitative statistical techniques to address questions in agricultural, ecological and environmental research.
•Use the R statistical package to manipulate and investigate a data set.
•Appraise and contrast different approaches to research in agriculture, ecology and the environment.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:
The module will consist of four independent units that each contribute five credits:
1.Experimental design and statistics (five weeks, running from the start of the autumn term until enhancement week). The lecture and seminar based unit will provide fundamentals in experimental design and the key quantitative statistical concepts and tests required for research in agricultural, ecological and environmental studies. The unit will be assessed by an in class multiple choice and short answer test and a short assignment.
2.Field studies techniques (five weeks, running from the start of the autumn term until enhancement week). This practical-class based unit will provide a grounding in some of the key field studies techniques required for research in agricultural, ecological and environmental studies to include:
-Plant identification
-Insect identification
-Key techniques in field crops research
-Citizen science research techniques
-Geographic information systems
The unit will be assessed by means of a laboratory notebook.
3.Field course (one week during enhancement week). This one week residential field course based in East Anglia will provide an introduction to different industry bodies who conduct research in agricultural, ecological and environmental sciences. Students will spend a week visiting different research organisations across East Anglia including crops research stations, wildlife reserves and experimental farms. The unit will be assessed by a reflective photo log of the week, in which students will be asked to reflect on what they have observed and to think about the wider implications both in terms of the course and also research across the sector.
4.Using R for data manipulation and analysis (five weeks following enhancement week). The statistics package R is a critical tool for researchers working in ecological and environmental sciences. This computer-lab based unit will provide a basic grounding in the use of R by introducing fundamental concepts in R, such as: programming, reading in data, accessing packages and writing functions. Building on the ideas and statistical methods from the Experimental Design and Statistics unit, this unit will explore using R for statistical analysis. The unit will be assessed by an in-class multiple choice and short answer test and a short answer assignment.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module includes a series of lectures, field based practical classes at the university’s Sonning Farm, a field course and computer lab classes.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Practicals classes and workshops 20
Fieldwork 30
Guided independent study: 140
       
Total hours by term 200
       
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 25
Project output other than dissertation 25
Set exercise 25
Class test administered by School 25

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Lab notebook 25%
In-class tests 25%
Reflective photo diary 25%
Short assignments 25%

Formative assessment methods:

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: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A mark of 50 overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework and re-sitting of in-class tests.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 10 April 2019

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MODULE DESCRIPTION DOES NOT FORM ANY PART OF A STUDENT'S CONTRACT.

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