Methods and Techniques 1

Module code: NS1021

Module co-ordinator: Dr Cheryl Hurkett

Computing is an ever-increasingly important component of scientific practice, as well as almost all careers. This module will give you a solid base of competence in major IT packages, as well as training in more specific scientific analysis and programming software.There are five 'strands' to this module:

Reflective practice: A series of one-to-one sessions with your Personal Tutor providing you with training and feedback on how to develop the professional skills and attitudes required to thrive in an academic, industry or other career.

Research seminars: Each year a number of external speakers will give an evening seminar and Q&A session on their interdisciplinary research in order to provide you with an insight into current cutting-edge research and allow you to converse with researchers in interdisciplinary areas.

Information literacy: This strand will support your development as a researcher through a series of sessions and online resources that address aspects of information gathering and processing with an emphasis on the transferrable nature of these skills, and how they are applicable both in an academic context and a professional one.

Employability: Preparation for your future career and help to effectively communicate the skills you have learned elsewhere in your degree.

Further skills: Support for additional skills such as exam technique, communication and information handling.

Topics covered

  • Manipulating data in R and basic data analysis
  • Making professional plots in R
  • Plotting multiple datasets on single figures and adding legends
  • The effects of random errors in data
  • Parametric tests
  • R Scripts and sequences of commands
  • Library Induction
  • Finding and citing information for academic purposes
  • Advanced information retrieval and personal information management
  • Career options for Natural Sciences students
  • Research techniques
  • Report and essay writing skills
  • Analysing your writing
  • Reacting to previous module feedback
  • Exam techniques
  • Oral presentation skills
  • Effective PowerPoint presentations
  • Modelling and dimensional analysis


  • 10 two-hour computing sessions
  • 10 two-hour skills workshops
  • 2 one-hour seminars


  • Computing (45%)
  • Skills (55%) - including deliverables and a research seminar report (20%)