Module code: MHUM009

Module Overview

 Leading on from the MHN05 (Research Nutrition) This module allows the student to engage in an in-depth research project in an area relevant for nutritional science in the 21stCentury. Projects may be clinical, laboratory or literature based.  Students may be attached to NHS units, to staff or research teams within the Nutrition division, but also in other areas in the wider University, including psychology. At the end of the summer project period a manuscript in the style of a scientific paper is produced and the student presents their findings to their cohort and members of the department. Students will also be examined as to their knowledge of the project via viva voce. 

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

ROBERTSON Denise (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits: 60

ECTS Credits: 30

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 600

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Previous pass mark in MHUM001 through MHUM008

Module content

Project Allocation

A list of Research Project titles will be issued to students during module MHN05 ”Nutrition Research Methodology”.  There is open competition for the titles and students may also generate their own projects.  Supervisors are assigned so that they oversee the development of the research protocol before students undertake the research during the summer. Project titles and working protocols/applications for ethical approval will be developed during module MHN05 Research Nutrition.

Students are strongly advised to meet with potential project supervisors to discuss the projects before they are finalised.

Project Details

a.      Guidelines for carrying out research projects

  • Discuss the timing and details of practical work with your supervisor.  You are responsible for ensuring that you allocate enough time to achieve an adequate body of results for your dissertation.

  •        A sound understanding of the literature background to the project is required which will form the basis of the Introduction to the dissertation.  Accordingly, you should get to grips with the relevant scientific literature and do your database literature searching early in the summer.  Discuss the proposed contents of the Introduction with your supervisor (much of this can be carried out well before practical work is completed).

  • You should aim to speak to your supervisor on a weekly basis and receive feedback on     each section of your dissertation (introduction, methods etc) once only.

  •       You must complete a COSHH assessment before starting practical work.  An ethical checklist will be used to assess whether ethical approval is required for the course of work. All work which involves humans or samples of human tissue including blood will need ethical committee approval. This is a legal requirement, for more information please refer to the faculty ethical committee webpage.

  •       And finally…..practical work should be planned so that adequate time is available to write the dissertation!

b.      Format of Project Dissertation

         The project should be written in the format of a scientific paper and should not be more than 4000 words (double spaced) plus figures, tables and references.

  • Summary/Abstract:  The summary should not exceed 250 words and concisely describe the contents of the dissertation.  It should succinctly state the nature of the study, the aims of the project, the primary methods used, the results obtained and the conclusions drawn from the research.

  • Acknowledgements:  Record any thanks to individuals involved in your project.

  • Introduction:  This should contain a critical review of the relevant literature to the research project.  It should be focused on the background to the research problem that is being addressed in the project but should also be sufficiently comprehensive to demonstrate that you have a good depth of understanding of the research in the field.  Remember to provide literature citations for all of the statements that you make.

  • Methods:  All of the methods should be written in the past tense.  The methods should be described in sufficient detail for someone to be able to repeat the work.  Where standard techniques are used these should be summarised briefly and the relevant literature cited.

  • Results:  The results text should be written in the past tense and describe the most important features of the results obtained.  It should be supportive of the figures and tables and not simply repetition of what is contained in the figures or tables.  The figures and tables should each be numbered consecutively and stand alone.  They should have titles and a legend with sufficient detail for them to be understood them without reference to the text.  There should be no discussion of the meaning of the results within this section - it should purely state what was found.

  • Discussion:  This should contain your interpretation of the results obtained and be related to the existing literature.  It should not merely restate the results but should link your findings to the work of others and accordingly arrive at conclusions.  Interpretative statements should be accompanied by cited literature to provide a thorough critical assessment of your research.  Where there have been practical problems or the project is incomplete it is helpful to make suggestions for future studies, again by referring to the work of others.

  • References:  These should be prepared using a referencing programme such as endnote or refworks. For example:

Matthes H. W. D., Maldonado R., Simonin F., Valverde O., Slowe S., Kitchen I., Befort K., Dierich A., Le Meur M., Dolle P., Tzavara E., Hanoune J., Roques B., Kieffer B. L. (1996)  Loss of morphine-induced analgesia, reward effect and withdrawal symptoms in mice lacking the µ-opioid receptor gene. Nature 383, 819-823.

         In the body of the text, references should be cited by name and year according to the following example format. e.g. The gene knockout studies of Matthes et al. (1996) confirm the pharmacologist view that morphine acts at the mu receptor (Kitchen, 1995).

         If there are more than two authors the first author should be given followed by et al. Where the author has been quoted from several papers in one year the references should be labelled thus (Kitchen 1995a, 1995b, 1995c etc).

Your supervisor should be able to assist you with content and construction

Project Submission

Two copies of the project must be submitted by the deadline to the Assessment Office.

One electronic copy  submitted through SurreyLearn

(Note: All copies will be retained by the Faculty, so make an extra copy for yourself)

Submission Deadline  tbc

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation PROJECT PRESENTATION 10
Oral exam or presentation PROJECT VIVA VOCE 20
Practical based assessment Supervisors assessment of engagement and performance 10

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate cognitive and analytical skills, scientific writing and communications skills.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Poster presentation of project background

  • Written dissertation

  • Oral examination

  • Supervisors assessment of engagement and performance


Formative assessment  Students will be provided with regular formative assessment by their research supervisor at all stages of their research project in the form of bi-weekly meetings.

Feedback Written and oral formative feedback of draft versions of the dissertation and the research poster will be provided by the research supervisor.

Module aims

  • To build on experience in information retrieval relevant to a specific topic of research
  • To acquire and develop specific practical research skills
  • To develop and expand the student's capacity for independent investigation
  • To develop written presentation skills applicable to the publication of original research findings in the scientific literature.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 A full appreciation of the use electronic databases in research and the ability to undertake systematic literature searches and information gathering KC
002 An opportunity to be able to critically interpret, assess and appraise the relevance of scientific literature CP
003 An increased capacity for independent research PT
004 The ability to correctly analyse and interpret research data CPT
005 The ability to write a detailed and well-constructed scientific report suitable for publication CPT
006 The opportunity to present and defend their own research findings CPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: development independent thinking transferable laboratory/clinical research skills.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Independent learning with academic supervision.     

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
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Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.