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Science project course: environmental science practical project

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  • Points: 30
  • Code: SXE390
  • Level: 3
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Student reviews

Excellent module with a degree of freedom to develop a research project.

You should be advised that this is essentially a practical skills module in the field of environmental science. The module builds on other modules like the third level courses 'ecosystems' and 'the environmental web' and the level 2 environmental science course. You should familiarise yourself with statistical interpretations, but there is help at hand within the forums and through special tutor lead online presentations.

The module allows you to carry out an independent design and execute practical experiment; I did mine on plant phenology. It is possible to undertake a research project, of this nature, with the bare essentials that you may find around the home.

You will develop your analytical and synthesis skills such that you will be better prepared to undertake a higher research degree. You will come up with a project title and objectives and you will manage your project from start to finish with guidance from your tutor.

Your tutor will provide you with excellent support and will critically evaluate your work with the aim of developing your academic skills. You will finally present your work in the format of a scientific paper, which is part of the EMA.

In order to gain a top grade, you will need to ensure that you really do put the work in; this is a very time-demanding module that requires excellent time and project management skills. You will develop the skill of extracting information from key peer reviewed literature (and other sources) and develop the skill of scrutinising that literature looking for inconsistencies in data etc.

As you flow through your project, you will undertake a series of TMAs with the aim of developing skills within your chosen area of research that will, hopefully, provide you with a very well-polished EMA at the end. The TMAs build on each other and are not independent of the EMA; the EMA therefore is a culmination of all your developing effort built through the TMAs.

If you are serious about undertaking a research degree after your OU first degree, then I thoroughly recommend this module, since it will provide you with an insight into the activities of a research degree student. If you intend to complete your academic studies after this module, I still recommend SXE390 because it develops many transferrable skills that employers seek.

The module is unlike other modules; you truly become a 'research student' who does not have the same level of 'hand-holding' as you get from other 3rd level modules. I managed this module and SXN390 in the same presentation year, so it is possible to achieve both, but in hindsight the workload was huge and I would not recommend it unless you've a lot of time on your hands!

I loved this module and gained a distinction. It is possible to do well, if you are prepared to put the effort in! This module is as much about the journey as it is about getting to the final destination.

Nigel Patrick Fox

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: May 2015

Overall, a good module, with a lot of freedom to set your own subject. One thing that was less good was the requirement to keep a detailed diary of everything you do. I can of course see the value in note keeping during research, but this is a case of forcing everyone into a very particular way of doing that, regardless of individual preferences.

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: December 2013

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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