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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Research Methods in Physical Geography (RMPG) (EASC09053)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is made of two components related to research methods. In semester one, lectures and practicals will provide training in the use of computer programming to analyse and visualise data using physical geography examples. In parallel, a series of workshops throughout the year will develop students' ability in generation and testing of scientific hypotheses. The course will culminate with the production of a research proposal in which students will describe the scientific motivation for their dissertation project, the main goal of the project and the methods they will use to achieve this goal.
Course description Programming and Data Analysis: Semester 1:
Week 1 (Friday): Basic Programming
Week 2 (Friday): Data Visualisation
Week 3 (Friday): Probability and sampling
Week 4: No Practical/Instructor unavailable (do not meet)
Week 5 (Friday): Correlation and Regression
Week 6 (Friday): Online Programming Test
Week 7 (Friday): Time Series analysis
Week 8 (Friday): Spatial data analysis
Week 9 (Friday): Processing geospatial in different formats
Week 10 (Friday): Help session for programming project

Workshops for Research Design*: all year long. The milestones are:
Sem1 Wk2 (Friday): Introduction to research design workshops
Sem 1 Wk9: discussion of preliminary ideas in small groups
Sem 1 Wk11: 4th Year GPG dissertation conference
Sem 2 ILW: Mock peer-review interview based on assessment of students' proposals

*Note: specific dates and times for the workshops will be arranged via e-mail, possibly via a doodle-poll.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Earth Modelling and Prediction 2 (EASC08018)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Acquire skills in computer programming
  2. Develop an understanding of a range of data processing/analysis techniques and the ability to determine suitable data analysis approaches to test hypotheses
  3. Define a research question or a scientific hypothesis to test
  4. Search for literature and gather information on the topic
  5. Define a rigorous strategy for data collection and analysis
Reading List
Statistics and Data Analysis in Geology (Davis, JC. Wiley)

Geostatistics explained: an introductory guide for earth scientists (McKillup, S and Dyar, MD. Cambridge)

Walliman, N (2004) "Your undergraduate dissertation". London: Sage

Kneale, P (2011) "Study Skills for Geography, Earth and Environmental Science Students". Hodder Education.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information The lab practical portion of the course will take place over 8 weeks in the Fall term. The practicals will cover the programming and data analysis component of the course. In these practicals, the staff member will give a brief overview of the current practical and its learning outcomes, and the students will then carry out the practical exercises in a hands-on fashion with a staff member and demonstrator standing by.
KeywordsProgramming,Data Analysis,Research Design,Dissertation
Course organiserDr Daniel Goldberg
Tel: (0131 6)50 2561
Course secretaryMs Katerina Sykioti
Tel: (0131 6)51 5251
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