module specification

NF7053 - Scientific Research Methodology (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Scientific Research Methodology
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 200
55 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
145 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Individual Presentation (10min)
Coursework 80%   Portfolio
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Friday Morning

Module summary

The module is designed to provide students with an understanding of the graduate skills required for the planning, organisation and practice of experimental research, and enhance students’ employability skills for a career in food or related subject area. The module will also cover basic statistics, data analysis, literature evaluation, and consider the impact of scientific research on a variety of issues including ethics, health & safety, and data protection.

Module aims

  1. To review basic statistical tests commonly applied to quantitative data sets in food science.
  2. Develop and enhance graduate-level research skills in food science, including research design & hypotheses testing, generic laboratory skills, and presentation skills.
  3. To provide students with the skills needed to analyse and evaluate published scientific research (relevant to a current or novel scientific topic) using appropriate databases and search techniques.
  4. To consider the impact of scientific research on a variety of issues including ethics, health & safety, and data protection.


  • Importance, principles and practice of information gathering
  • Referencing, plagiarism and tools to help
  • Principles of scientific writing
  • Critical Appraisal of research
  • Communicating scientific ideas & research literature
  • Writing an abstract
  • Basic applied statistics, data handling and use of statistical package.
  • Professional codes of practice and ethics; data protection; health and safety

Learning and teaching

Students will develop a knowledge and understanding of the various aspects of research planning and execution through a series of lectures, tutorials, laboratory practicals, and IT-based workshops. Acquisition of knowledge of the subject matter of this module will be promoted through lecturer-led lectures (~25 hours) and tutorial, workshops, and laboratory practicals (~30hours). Throughout the module students will be guided towards the use of IT-based approaches to literature searching, data analysis, and the presentation of results, and will be expected to exploit these fully and effectively in their work.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a good understanding of appropriate statistical tests relevant to food science and related subject area.
  2. Analyse and critically evaluate published research articles, locate literature relevant to a scientific topic, using appropriate databases and search techniques.
  3. Develop a deep and comprehensive understanding of the principles of research design, hypothesis testing, and sampling.
  4. Appreciate the implications and importance for research on a variety of incidental topics including ethics, health & safety, and data protection.

Assessment strategy

This module will be formatively and summatively assessed. Assessment will be via an oral presentation (10 min) relevant to a current or novel scientific topic (Learning Outcome 1); developing a Portfolio gathering evidence on their chosen topic, which will include students self-evaluating and self-reflecting their own training and research needs (Learning Outcomes 1,2,3,4). Within the Portfolio, students will also be expected to demonstrate the appropriate statistical test(s) relevant to their question(s), and provide an in-depth rationale and reasoning behind their decision (Learning Outcome 1).
[Pass on aggregate]


Bailey, N.T.J. (1995) Statistical Methods in Biology. 3rd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Devore, J. & Peck, R. (1994) Introductory Statistics, 2nd edn.  Minneapolis/St. Paul: West Publishing.
Freund, J.E. & Simon, G.A. (2007) Modern Elementary Statistics. 12th edn. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Nielsen, S.S. (ed.) (2010) Food analysis. 4th edn. London: Springer.
Pomeranz, Y. & Meloan, C.E. (2000) Food analysis: theory and practice. 3rd edn. Gaithersburg, Md.: Aspen.
Ruxton, G.D. & Colegrave, N. (2010) Experimental Design for the Life Sciences. 3rd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (CORE)
Walliman, N. (2011) Research methods: the basics. London: Routledge. (CORE)