Course code ECOL300

ECOL300 Methods in Natural Sciences

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2018 - 2019 .

Course responsible: Richard Douglas Sheil
Teachers: Cathrine Glosli, Ole Hofstad, Sam Steyaert, Leif Egil Loe, Lindis Skipperud
ECTS credits: 5
Faculty: Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
This course starts in Spring parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Spring parallel, .
Course frequency: Annually
First time: Study year 2011-2012
Course contents:
The various phases of the work on a Master"s thesis will be covered in weekly lectures. Weekly computer exercises with teachers present will assure that the students are acquainted with the use of the statistical program "R". Towards the end of the course, the students will have a basis to work independently with the individual projects.
Learning outcome:


Students should gain knowledge of how scientific studies are conducted, including all phases of a research project from planning up to writing and publishing. They should be prepared to start their own project for their Master's thesis.  Deeper insight into practical research planning will be provided by the term paper: a plan for the student's own thesis research written in English. The course will also guide students on how to handle common ethical problems that arise in research.

The course provides a basic understanding on how to plan a scientific study, of the collection, processing and analysis of data and of the presentation of results in a Master's thesis. This will be documented by developing and writing a plan and a description of the student's own future Master's thesis study in English.


After completing the course, students will be better equipped to judge, select and define problems suitable for scientific studies, identify and gather relevant information, formulate scientific questions and hypotheses to investigate, deduce predictions for testing, plan how the data should be collected, plan and conduct laboratory or field studies/experiments, and analyse and interpret data and present results in suitable formats.  Further, students should be able to present, explain and justify their work in a Master's thesis with a summary, introduction, methods, results, discussion and references following accepted scientific standards and conventions. Based on these lessons students should be better able to recognise and weigh strengths and weaknesses in scientific studies more generally.

General competence

Students will gain an increased awareness and appreciation of how research is conducted and of the standards, knowledge and skills required.  Competency in doing research and engaging with science and scientists will be improved.

Learning activities:
The course consists of lectures that illuminate the most important topics. Computer exercises will be given to help the students with statistical testing. The course ends with each student preparing a term paper in English consisting of a plan and description of the student's own future Master's degree work.
Teaching support:
The teachers are present or available for individual questions during the lab exercises, and also during lectures and normal office hours.
The curriculum is published in Canvas. In addition comes lectures and handouts.
Completed Bachelor´s degree and approved admission to a Master´s degree programme in Natural Sciences.
Recommended prerequisites:
The course is intended for students studying ecology and related topics in environmental sciences.
Mandatory activity:
Mandatory activities:Multiple choice test (online)Lectures
Term paper.
Nominal workload:
Structured teaching: 25-40 hours. Own effort: 100-120 hours.
Entrance requirements:
Special requirements in Science
Type of course:
Lectures: 15-20 hours. Exercises: 10-20 hours.
It is assumed that the students have chosen a topic and a main supervisor for their master thesis no later than March 1st. Participants are required to understand, explain and justify the main elements of their intended projects and, based on that, to provide a written plan (term paper). The students must take responsibility to judge if this timing is reasonable with regard to their own specific project.
The examiner will evaluate the submitted terms papers.
Examination details: Term paper: Bestått / Ikke bestått