module specification

NF7P05 - Food Science Research Dissertation (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18, but may be subject to modification
Module title Food Science Research Dissertation
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 60
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 600
580 hours Guided independent study
20 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 10%   Progress report (1,250 words)
Dissertation 60%   Dissertation (9,000 words)
Oral Examination 20%   30 Minute Viva voce
Coursework 10%   Supervisors mark for process
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North - Not applicable
Spring semester North - Not applicable
Summer studies North - Not applicable

Module summary

Students undertake an extended research project that develops their abilities to plan and execute an advanced piece of research, analyse the results, present them in a dissertation that includes a review of previous research and sets their work in context with critically argued discussion. The research project is intended to build upon the taught modules of the award and is underpinned by the NF7053 Scientific Research Methodology module.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

This module is a core module for the MSc Food Science. It is designed for students to undertake a substantial piece of research in their subject field. The research project is intended to build upon the taught modules of the award and is underpinned by the principles of research, data analysis and critical analysis delivered in the other modules. The dissertation is designed to demonstrate synthesis of knowledge and skills developed throughout the award. As the largest single piece of assessed work undertaken for the award, it will be seen as the clearest expression of the student’s ability at postgraduate level.
The aims of this module are to allow the student to undertake a detailed piece of original research in one area within the subject field and through this to develop a thorough analysis and synthesis of theory, policy and practice in relation to food science. The research will require either the empirical collection of data or an original secondary analysis of existing data. It will build upon experience at undergraduate level or equivalent and the understanding of the research methodologies relevant to food science and to demonstrate application of knowledge and skills developed on the Course as a whole. This module will also aim to provide an opportunity for critical reflection of the research topic and self-reflection of learning, studying and research skills and knowledge.  


Dissertation Content
The required length of the dissertation is c. 12,500 words exclusive of title page, contents, figures, tables, bibliography and appendices. The content should be of sufficient depth to be considered appropriate for a Masters level award, but broad enough to demonstrate an informed overview of the subject area.

Dissertation Structure
The exact structure of the dissertation may depend upon the nature of the research, however the following rules will normally apply:

There should be a title page that gives the title of the research, the student name ID number and course name;
There should be an Abstract or Summary at the start;
There should be a literature review included in an Introduction section;
If the dissertation is about practical research, there should be a detailed Experimental section describing the materials and the methods used;
In a literature review, there must be an extensive discussion based on the literature being reviewed;
For a practical project, the Discussion section must draw together the results, interpret them and set them in context of published work;
All dissertations must be fully referenced in the text and have a complete Reference section at the end. References must be in Harvard style following the guidelines published by the course team;
Appendices may include supporting work and information;

Learning and teaching

This module will require the student to self-direct and manage his/her own independent learning experience. The area of research will be matched, as far as is possible with the research interest, expertise and current research topics of a particular member of staff. Each student will be paired with an appropriate supervisor.

Research topics will be identified during the pre -project preparation module. Students develop a research proposal in the module NFP053N/NF7053 Scientific Research Methodology. This module is taken in semester two and it prepares students for the dissertation allowing them to start their research and data collection earlier in the process as they have already developed their proposal.  This will be facilitated through discussions between the students, the module convenor and a supervisor who has suitable research interests.

The supervisor may be a member of academic teaching or research staff within the University or from outside in appropriate organisations where the supervisor is of sufficient academic standing. Topics will be chosen that give the opportunity for high-level research that advances the boundaries of current knowledge but gives the student a realistic opportunity of completion. In scientific research, all projects have to go through a formal proposal procedure so similarly here: each student has to make a satisfactory proposal for their research. This is a skill that has to be learnt and students must demonstrate that they can do it.

Upon arrangement by the student, the project supervisor will initially assist in the following processes:
∙ clarifying the terms of the research project
∙ establishing a timetable for the research and dates for subsequent student/supervisor meetings
∙ directed background reading
∙ study design, methodology, ethical approval (where necessary) and statistical analysis
Individual supervisory support will form a key part of the teaching method, but ultimately, most of the learning will be student-centred. Comments of the draft of the dissertation can be expected.

Where a student carries out the majority of their research in an institution other than the University, the Module Convenor will ensure that supervision arrangements are in place that gives appropriate support to the student equivalent to that given to students working within the University. In such cases, an industrial supervisor will be appointed to oversee the research project at the student’s place of work. It will be this person’s responsibility to ensure that the supervisory procedures are carried out to the standard expected by the University.

The Learning Outcomes form a coherent set that the student can be expected to achieve and that will enable them to undertake advanced research projects in their future careers or in a research degree.

The three assessed elements are designed to allow assessment of those Learning Outcomes.
In the actual research, supervisors will be assessing the student’s ability to undertake this at a level appropriate to the course. The student will be expected to carry background research, plan and execute their work and interpret their findings. Most research is carried out within in a team which is led by an experienced researcher and members of the team have to be able to discuss their progress, plans and results. Thus the amount of support and guidance and the interaction with the supervisor will be assessed.

The main assessment for the project is the written dissertation and this is the culmination of the project in which the student will demonstrate a rounded ability to set their research in the scientific context, interpret the results, recognise their significance and appreciate limitations.
The viva voce gives the student the opportunity to demonstrate that the work really is theirs, that they are fully conversant with all aspects of it, that they can justify their conclusions and can consider extensions to it. Many of these aspects are central to the development of professional skills and will be invaluable to the students after graduation when they start their careers.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1 plan and execute a piece of original research relevant to food science

2 demonstrate innovation and originality of thought with respect to basic and applied research

3 select, execute and interpret appropriate statistical tests at an advanced level of capability using statistical software at an advanced level of competency

4 demonstrate an ability for self-managed time in the area of research

5 place their own research within the wider context of nutrition/food science research

6 present a report that is written clearly in the prescribed style with correct use of English and
  defend it

7 demonstrate knowledge of the role of research in the academic and professional development of the discipline, the philosophy of research and the function of    learned societies and professional bodies

Assessment strategy

The dissertation will be assessed on the basis of both content and structure and on evidence of the following:

Assessment: Coursework 1 Progress report 10% (1,250 )
Initial development of the following learning objectives that will be further evidenced in the final thesis:

  1. Extensive literature review with evidence of an advanced critical evaluation of earlier related research (LO 5)
  2. clarity of hypothesis formulation and outline of research proposal (LO 1)
  3. design or adoption of relevant research methodology to the problem to be addressed, including its critical evaluation (LO 1, LO 2)
  4. clear management of practical laboratory work or fieldwork (LO 4)

Coursework 2 Dissertation (9,000 words) (60%)
Final dissertation thesis should meet the following learning objectives:

  1. Extensive literature review with evidence of an advanced critical evaluation of earlier related research (LO 5)
  2. clarity of hypothesis formulation and outline of research proposal (LO 1)
  3. design or adoption of relevant research methodology to the problem to be addressed, including its critical evaluation (LO 1, LO 2)
  4. clear management of practical laboratory work or fieldwork (LO 4)
  5. rigorous demonstration of research findings together with a comprehensive statistical analysis and interpretation (LO 2, LO 3)
  6. appropriate discussion of results and relevant and accurate conclusions (LO 2, LO 5)
  7. evidence of policy and/or practical implications of findings and the context of the research in general (LO 7)
  8. correct use of English, clarity of presentation and appropriate formatting

Coursework 3 Viva voce (20 minutes) (20%)
Students should be  able to discuss how they planned and carried out their research, interpret these and undertake an  appropriate discussion of results and  reach appropriate conclusions (LO 2, LO 3, LO 5)
Students should also be able to discuss the implications of findings and the context of the research in general and  (LO 6)
Other Supervisors mark for process (10%)


Core reading:
Swetman, D & Swetman, R (2000) Writing Your Dissertation: The Bestselling Guide to Planning, Preparing and Presenting First-Class Work (The How to Series). Revised 2009. Oxford: How To Books Ltd. ISBN: 978-1857036626

Other references:
Dawson, C (2009) Introduction to Research Methods: A Practical Guide for Anyone Undertaking a Research Project . 4th edition. Oxford: How To Books Ltd. ISBN: 978-1845283674

Walliman, N (2005) Your Research Project: a step by step guide for the first-time researcher. 2nd edition. London: Sage Publications Ltd. ISBN: 978-1412901321

Cochran, W G & Cox, G M (2005) Experimental designs. 2nd edition (pbk). New York,  London: Wiley. ISBN: 978-0471162032

Everitt, B & Hothorn, T (2011). An Introduction to Applied Multivariate Analysis with R (Use R). New York: Springer. ISBN: 978-1441996497