BIOL411-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Research Preparation

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


To introduce and discuss the methodology and principles involved in preparing for research, and to broaden perspectives in the development of a research-oriented career.

The general aim of the course is to prepare postgraduate students to engage in research – it has been designed for BSc (Hons), MSc Pt I and PGDipSci students as a compulsory component of the 4th year postgraduate experience. It will comprise a series of modules in contemporary research methodology in the biological sciences, such as research and professional scientific communication skills (including written, visual and oral communication); self-directed inquiry and problem solving skills; critical analysis and research design and planning; scientific career development. The skills developed in this course will serve students progressing to research projects (through BIOL412 and MSc PtII) and those students who decide to pursue other careers.

Recommended preparatory course(s): none

Learning Outcomes

  • As a student in this course, I will develop the ability to:
  • Communicate the findings of scientific research in plain English and verbally for a scientifically-literate audience (assessment tasks: verbal presentations in 4th year papers).
  • Synthesise and critically evaluate primary scientific literature to generate a clear and concise argument in support of a perspective (assessment task: evaluation of a research paper).
  • Give and receive criticism as a professional scientist and serve as critic and conscience of society (assessment tasks: evaluation of scientific arguments in online forum)
  • Engage in planning of my future career (assessment task: written professional plan).
  • Develop understanding of the health and safety, ethics, and regulatory requirements appropriate for a research project in a relevant sub-discipline of biological sciences (assessment task: Statement of requirements with appropriate form and Maori consultation drafted).

    Transferable Skills Register
    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • Critical synthesis of information.  In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, construct your own understanding and shape your own viewpoint. In tutorials we will use recent research papers in a group environment to develop your abilities to identify the essential elements of research outputs - you will then use these skills in your critical assessment.
  • Critical expression.  In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to provide criticism, sometimes even in a conflict situation. In tutorials we will practice identifying arguments of substance and arguments directed at the person and how to serve as a critic (e.g., of a manuscript or grant) and respond to criticism (e.g., as an author of a manuscript being reviewed).
  • Verbal presentation. In most careers in science the ability to present findings clearly in verbal form is likely to be critical. In tutorial sessions we will provide clear guidance on what makes a good presentation and you will test these skills in small group sessions and with a larger audience.
  • Career planning. The pathways from postgraduate study are many and varied, and you will likely change directions in your career more than once. The ability to reflect on your own strengths and interests and plan ahead will be regarded highly by prospective employers. In tutorial sessions we will provide guidance on directions beyond 4th year and you will develop your own professional plan.


Subject to approval of the Head of School.



Timetable 2020

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 12:00 - 13:00 Online Delivery (25/5)
Beatrice Tinsley 105 (17/2)
17 Feb - 23 Feb
25 May - 31 May
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 11:00 - 13:00 Online Delivery (21/4-28/4, 12/5)
Rehua 528 (25/2-3/3)
24 Feb - 8 Mar
20 Apr - 3 May
11 May - 17 May
Tutorial B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 14:00 - 17:00 Link 309 Lecture Theatre 16 Mar - 22 Mar

Course Coordinator

For further information see School of Biological Sciences Head of Department


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Written response to comments 10%
Participation online discussion 20%
Evaluation of Scientific Paper 10%
Outline of permits & procedures 20%
Professional plan 20%
Statement of proposed research 20%

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,054.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences.

All BIOL411 Occurrences

  • BIOL411-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020