Type of module:

Summary module description:

As part of the MSc by Research in Animal Science, in this entirely practical module, you’ll develop a research question and an in-depth analysis of this question, and you’ll plan systematically for your research project to test the researchable hypothesis you have developed.


  • To develop students’ research skills to enable them to conduct research projects successfully and independently.

  • To identify a suitable topic, and undertake a critical review and analysis of the literature.

  • To plan and cost a programme of research to test the hypothesis or research question.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module the students will be able to:

  • Apply the content from the pre-requisite taught modules to the investigation of a relevant research question.

  • Critically appraise the relevant scientific literature.

  • Develop research aims and objectives

  • Plan and cost a research project

Additional outcomes:

The development of time management and problem-solving skills.

Outline content:

An online discussion will be held to identify an appropriate research project.  This may be to address a research question at the student’s place of work, or it may be part of a research programme being undertaken in the Animal, Dairy and Food Chain Sciences group at the University of Reading. The student will then complete an in depth systematic review of the relevant literature, including (if relevant) a meta- analysis of published data.  This will inform the development of the hypothesis, and devising a costed programme of work, justifying the selection of the experimental design and methodology to be used and written up as a fully costed proposal.  In the development of the systematic review and the project proposal, a reflective diary will be maintained to demonstrate the evolution of the critical thinking that is behind the proposal.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Online discussions with supervisor including formative feedback on drafts of the review and proposal and consideration of the reflective diary.  

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 2
Project Supervision 2 3 3
Guided independent study: 196 197 197
Total hours by term 200 200 200
Total hours for module 600

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

A reflective diary will be maintained to demonstrate the evolution of critical thought and analysis regarding the development of the research proposal.

A systematic review of the literature, meta analysis of published data and analysis of the research needs will be prepared.

Following on from the literature review, a detailed project proposal will be submitted.  This will include details and justification of the selected experimental design and methodology, detailed protocols for the proposed experiments, and costing of the proposal.


Formative assessment methods:

Discussion and feedback on the reflective diary will be given.  Formative feedback will provided on drafts of the literature review. Discussion and advice on the costing of the proposal and the appropriateness of the research methodology selected.

Penalties for late submission:

Work that is submitted up to one calendar month after the submission deadline (and time) will be subject to a deduction of 10%.  Work that is submitted after one calendar month beyond the submission deadline will not be marked (unless extenuating circumstances have been agreed).

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 the literature review and project plan.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 24 July 2020


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