Course Title: Research Project A (Planning)

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Research Project A (Planning)

Credit Points: 24.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2019,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 1 2020,
Sem 1 2022,
Sem 1 2023

Course Coordinator: Prof Rick Franich

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Availability: By Appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

It is assumed that if you are undertaking this course, you have appropriate background knowledge in scientific methodology and the area of your project, such as obtained from completion of a Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Engineering degree.    You are also assumed to have completed or be concurrently enrolled in a postgraduate Research Methods course such as Research Methods BIOL1070, Research Methods BIOL2149, or Research Methods for Sciences ONPS2489.

Course Description

This is a research project course. You will be introduced to the process and activities associated with researching and designing a specific research project in your discipline area, including, but not limited to: design and performance of experiments, analysis and presentation of research data. This course assists students to develop skills in scientific communication, including preparation of oral and written scientific reports that use these skills.

You will be required to plan a Masters-level research project, specifying the research questions, objectives, hypothesis, methods and analyses that you will undertake during the project. 

You will conduct a literature review to gain the background knowledge to justify, design and conduct the research project. Your experimental design will also be informed by the published work of others in the field.

You will communicate your project findings through oral presentations and written reports.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course is designed to contribute to the PLOs of the Science Masters by Coursework degrees for which this course is a University elective. The course will contribute to the following MC191 Master of Environmental Science and Technology PLOs:

  • Understanding science: by demonstrating a coherent understanding of environmental science (aligned with MC191 PLOs 1.1, 1.2)
  • Scientific knowledge: by exhibiting depth and breadth of environmental science knowledge (aligned with MC191 PLO 2.1)
  • Inquiry and problem solving: by critically analysis and solving of problems in environmental science (aligned with MC191 PLOs 2.2, 2.3)
  • Communication: by being an effective communicator of environmental sciences (aligned with MC191 PLOs 2.4, 2.5)
  • Personal and professional responsibility: by being accountable for individual learning and scientific work in environmental science (aligned with MC191 PLOs 3.1, 3.2, 3.3)

On completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Plan and organize a scientific research project
  2. Search databases and find appropriate scientific literature, critically evaluate scientific literature and write a literature review
  3. Develop testable hypotheses
  4. Design plans (experiments/fieldwork/surveys etc) to test the hypotheses
  5. Analyse and report data in a professional manner
  6. Adhere to responsible laboratory or field practice regarding data collection and recording, and laboratory/field safety
  7. Demonstrate time and project management in the successful identification of a research project, development of an experimental design, collection of accurate and precise data, critical analysis and interpretation of results, retrieval of information, and critical reading of scientific literature
  8. Communicate the outcomes of your findings orally through two seminars, and in written form e.g. through a poster, project flyer

Overview of Learning Activities

You will learn in this course by:

  • Participating in regular meetings with your research supervisors and other members of the discipline or project team;
  • Discussing project objectives and their significance in the wider context to refine your research questions;
  • Keeping meeting notes and minutes, and reviewing notes taken during meetings to ensure progress and expectations are met;
  • Reviewing pertinent literature including scientific papers, theses and textbooks, and providing summary reviews to your research group. 
  • Negotiating a research topic in consultation with a research supervisor
  • Preparing a project outline that includes project aims, objectives, an indicative summary of methodology, and potential outcomes
  • Undertaking a literature review related to the topic, including preparing a reference list
  • Planning for, and performing project work under the guidance of a supervisor
  • Preparing and presenting a short (3 minute) seminar on the research project
  • Preparing and submitting a longer (10 minute) narrated presentation on the research project
  • Preparing and submitting a project flyer describing the project

    Your designated supervisor, assisted as necessary by other members of staff, will guide you in your planning and execution of your research work. You will develop a sense of responsibility for your own learning and have the skills to teach yourself. This includes being able to access and use a variety of learning materials and resources.

Overview of Learning Resources

There are no prescribed text or recommended books for this course. Students should obtain material appropriate to their individual topic by discussion with their supervisors and by searching appropriate data bases e.g. Scopus, Web of Science, Google Scholar, Current Contents, PubMed etc.

Overview of Assessment

Note that: This course has no hurdle requirements. 

Assessment for the course will be based on material either presented or submitted by students; there is no supervisor assessment. If you are continuing with a research project course, then material submitted for assessment in Research Project A (Planning) may form a component of the material submitted for assessment for the subsequent research project. For instance, the Literature Review will form a component of the submitted thesis in Research Project B (Implementation). The content of the Research Proposal (Project Plan) may also form a part of the content for the thesis.

  Assessment Task 1: Research Proposal  Weighting 20% This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, & 4    Assessment Task 2: Literature Review Weighting 30% This assessment task supports CLOs 4, 5, 6, & 7    Assessment Task 3: Progress Report Weighting 20% This assessment task supports CLO 8
Assessment Task 4: Project findings presentations 
Weighting 30%
This assessment task supports CLO 8