Course Title: Physical Science Research Methods

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Physical Science Research Methods

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017

Course Coordinator: Dr Jeff Hughes

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3370

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 3.02.16

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

This course is designed for Honours students preparing to undertake their research projects. As such, you are expected to have an undergraduate degree in a physical or biological science.

Course Description

The course aims to introduce you to the methods and practices employed in undertaking research in the physical sciences.   The topics studied will prepare you to succeed as an Honours student.  The course will cover laboratory safety, ethical and legal responsibilities, time and project management and working with your supervisor and others.   You will develop skill in developing a research proposal and in experimental design and data analysis.  You will be assisted to achieve theoretical understanding and practical skills in performing the general tasks expected of a researcher in the physical or biological sciences.

Please note that if you take this course for a bachelor honours program, your overall mark in this course will be one of the course marks that will be used to calculate the weighted average mark (WAM) that will determine your award level. (This applies to students who commence enrolment in a bachelor honours program from 1 January 2016 onwards. See the WAM information web page for more information.)


Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the development of the following  School of Sciences Program Learning Outcomes at AQF Level 8: 

  • PLO 1: Understanding science
  • PLO 3.1:Inquiry and Problem Solving
  • PLO 3.2 Critical-thinking ability
  • PLO 4: Communication skills (written and verbal)
  • PLO5: Personal and Professional Responsibilities and Self-directed learning skills


On successful completion of the course you should be able to: 

  1. use advanced information retrieval techniques
  2. demonstrate understanding and use of techniques of professional scientific communication:
  • critical reading
  • drafting
  • appropriate formats for reports, theses, posters, oral papers, journal articles, monographs

     3. analyse results and present data appropriately

      4. demonstrate understanding and application of laboratory safety


Overview of Learning Activities

You will be guided through the course by structured presentations and tutorials.   These will be presented by a combination of face-to-face seminars and online materials (available through Blackboard). The seminars will be augmented by computer-assisted studies and independent learning exercises.

Total Study Hours

Teacher guided hours: 48hrs/semester

Learner directed hours: 48 hrs/semester



Overview of Learning Resources

Material for this course is provided throughout the semester, with much of the material available on-line.   You will be advised of specific learning material requirements by the Course Coordinator and providers of the separate topics at the commencement of the semester.

Overview of Assessment

Note that:

☒This course has no hurdle requirements.

☐ All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).

The assessments are:

(a)  OHS assignment to review safety of the work place (25%)

(b)  Data treatment workshop/assignment (25%)

(c)  Use of online resources – 5 exercises (total 25%)

(d)  Review of published literature (25%)


Assessment (a) supports CLO 4

Assessment (b) supports CLO 3

Assessment (c) supports CLO 1,2

Assessment (d) supports CLO 1,2