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Science project course: environmental science practical project

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

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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Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the February 2016 presentation of SXE390. The survey was carried out in 2016.

36 students (a response rate of 29.5%) responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module.

Please note that if the percentage of students who responded to this module survey is below 30% and/or the number of responses is below 23 it means that only a small proportion of students provided feedback and their views as shown here may not be fully representative of all students who studied the module.

See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

% Count
Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 83.3 30
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 85.7 30
The module provided good value for money 65.7 23
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 88.9 32
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 69.7 23
The learning outcomes of the module were clearly stated 94.4 34
I would recommend this module to other students 71.4 25
The module met my expectations 75 27
I enjoyed studying this module 74.3 26
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 91.4 32
Faculty comment: "The module team warmly thanks students for their feedback and comments via the recent survey. Clearly, the vast majority of those who responded are satisfied with their study experience, with the support provided by their tutor, and would recommend the module to other students. This student comment captures a common view: ""I feel this module is reflective of the true world of science and academia more than many I have encountered and it was a fitting end. I really enjoyed this module even though it was very challenging and at times overwhelming, but I felt I learned so much through the experience.""
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