University of Technology Sydney

91547 Environment Research Project

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Science: Life Sciences
Credit points: 24 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


Research projects in environmental science provide students with an opportunity to undertake a session-long research project within one of the research groups at UTS or collaboratively with an external organisation. The project provides students with additional training and skills required to undertake research in environmental science as well as further developing their investigative and communication skills in the environmental science context.

Students undertake an investigation under the supervision of a member of academic staff. Students contribute, in collaboration with their UTS supervisor and, where appropriate, an industry or external co-supervisor, to formulating the scope of the research project, including planning the research work. This project is equivalent in level to those undertaken by honours and research master's students. The student is responsible for carrying out the work, including appropriate and critical analysis of the data or information obtained, and writing up their findings in a formal written report (7500–10,000 words approx.) which includes an introduction, which sets the project in the context of the literature, a description of the methods used, a presentation of the results obtained plus any analysis undertaken and a discussion of the results in the context of the relevant literature. They may also be required to present a seminar to other students, staff and industry or external partners.

Due to supervisory and infrastructure constraints, places in this subject are limited and it can only be undertaken with faculty approval. Students should approach their Program Adviser and potential supervisors about project availability in the first instance. A project proposal, written in consultation with, and signed by the proposed supervisor and countersigned by the Program Adviser must be sent to the Master of Science Course Director for formal approval. Where the project involves laboratory or fieldwork, a completed risk assessment form must also be provided with the approval request. Ethics approval is required for certain projects.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Develop and execute a project plan with your supervisor, within the field of your research area.
2. Establish effective channels of communication with your supervisor(s) and colleagues.
3. Apply knowledge and skills into professional scientific practice to gain new expertise.
4. Review and respond to existing academic literature.
5. Apply appropriate methods of statistical analysis to interpret data.
6. Communicate the findings of your research through both written and oral communication, including the contribution of the research to the scientific field.
7. Identify the role of the project from a global cultural perspective and applying knowledge and skills to meeting these needs.
8. Demonstrate an ongoing process of reflection and observation of experiences which leads to the development and testing of innovative and creative new ideas.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of following course intended learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrate critical engagement with the appraisal of advanced knowledge and demonstrate advanced application of knowledge and technical skills to conduct research and generate new knowledge relevant to professional practice in science. (1.1)
  • Assess, argue for, and conduct appropriate approaches to independent research and solving complex problems and apply a research methodology to address a research need in a relevant professional context. (2.1)
  • Develop, prepare, and engage, at times collaboratively, in work practices that demonstrate an understanding of health and safety requirements, ethical conduct, risk management, organisation, record keeping and collaborative skills in the context of science. (3.1)
  • Discover, create, and self-reflect on the processes used to determine the value, integrity, and relevance of multiple sources of information to derive innovative solutions to complex science problems. (4.1)
  • Present and communicate complex ideas and justifications using appropriate communication approaches from a variety of methods (oral, written, visual) to communicate with discipline experts, scientists, industry, and the general public. (5.1)
  • Critically reflect on Indigenous Australian contexts to inform professional cultural capability to work effectively with and for, Indigenous Australians within Science. (6.1)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The Faculty of Science has six graduate attributes that you will develop during your course at UTS.

This subject is intended to assess the following graduate attributes:

Graduate Attribute 1 - Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application.

Develop a professional identity through engagement with scientific knowledge to demonstrate depth, breadth, application and interrelationships of relevant discipline areas.

You will apply the disciplinary knowledge and practical skills they have developed during the Master of Science (Marine Science and Management) program and related knowledge from their undergraduate studies to a research question in order to contribute to the development of new knowledge or environmental science processes. To successfully complete your research project, you will build a deeper understanding of their focus area by critiquing and/or using existing scientific literature to complete aspects of their project such as data analysis, experiments, or interpretation of results.

Graduate Attribute 2 – An Inquiry-oriented approach.

An ability to hypothesise, apply the scientific method and solve problems, incorporating evidence-based knowledge acquisition, deduction, inference and induction to contest current scientific knowledge through critical evaluation and data analyses.

You will learn how to structure and investigate a research project from the design stage to the final report and seminar by using scientific method. You will formulate scientific hypotheses and learn how to design appropriate experiments to test and evaluate these hypotheses with guidance from your supervisor(s). You will also develop problem-solving skills by applying existing knowledge or literature to solve unknown or unfamiliar problems. You will be trained on and gain expertise with state-of-the-art instruments, software and processes used in environmental science industry and research, setting you up to apply their technical skills to new workplace or research scenarios.

Graduate Attribute 3 – Professional skills and their appropriate application.

A capability to autonomously and collaboratively acquire technical, practical and professional skills within the context of work integrated learning and apply these in ethical ways to meet the current and future needs of society.

You will develop their professional skills and ability to learn collaboratively with other scientists - necessary for continued career development in modern science - through independent research, participating in research group meetings, working with other researchers and students in the laboratory, and managing the day-to-day aspects of their project. You will have an opportunity to practice key professional attributes such as time management, researching scientific literature, problem solving, and personal organisation required for a successful career. You will learn other professional skills such as laboratory risk assessment and management, conducting ethical research, maintaining thorough laboratory notes, and scientific communication during your project work.

As you investigate your project, you will build an awareness of the current limitations and issues within your chosen focus area, and aid in the development of a solution to these limitations, whether it is the development of a new method or an industry-based validation or interpretation framework project.

Graduate Attribute 4 - The ability to be a Lifelong Learner

Through the development of your research project you will have an opportunity to build on your existing knowledge and learn from your experiences, and to incorporate this knowledge and associated skills into a practical professional setting. You will also have an opportunity to seek out information on current and future trends in biomedical engineering and apply this knowledge to developing practical, innovative and creative solutions to problems in your project focus area.

Graduate Attribute 5 – Engagement with the needs of society.

You will gain an awareness of the role of science within a global culture and willingness to contribute actively to the shaping of community views on complex issues where the methods and findings of science are relevant. This will be demonstrated in your ability to explain the significance of your research project, and how it contributes to needs of the global community within your field of research.

Graduate attribute 6 – Communication skills.

Communicate effectively and professionally across all domains (written/oral/visual/graphical) to a range of audiences using appropriate media.

The communication of your project findings is an essential part of your professional development. You will get an opportunity to develop your written scientific communication skills by writing a technical scientific report at the end of their project, which requires you to critically analyse various data and sources into a coherent body of work. You will also practice your oral communication skills via the presentation of your findings in the final seminar.

Teaching and learning strategies

Guided learning

Teaching and learning in this subject is on an individual level and linked to your project. You will acquire crucial laboratory skills in formal training sessions with supervisors, professional research technical officers and/or industry supervisors. With assistance from your supervisors, you will learn other practices required in a professional research environment, such as preparing risk management plans, project plans, designing experiments, and research ethics. Supervisors will provide guidance and personalised feedback on assessments to help you refine your academic writing, literature critique and presentation skills. You may also request one-on-one meetings with your supervisors to discuss specific problems or progress. More detailed information on student feedback modes is presented in the Assessment Feedback section.

Independent learning

You will be responsible for the day-to-day activities in your research project, including balancing research time and coursework commitments, providing draft work for critique in a timely manner, and providing regular updates to your supervisors. You will use online resources such as scientific literature, webinars or tutorials to develop a deeper understanding of their research topic and results. Online support materials are provided on Canvas and are designed to complement the supervisors' guidance on literature review and presentation writing and general research practices.

Research group meetings and collaborative learning

You will be seen as an active participant of your research group, and you are expected to show 'good citizenship' within your respective groups. Research group meetings are one channel for receiving regular feedback and guidance from your supervisors and other research students. This includes attending and giving updates at group meetings and participating in other activities such as journal clubs or practice seminars, which will help you develop your critical review, scientific and presentation skills. You will have the opportunity to actively learn from senior research students in the laboratory.

Content (topics)

The topic for this research project is developed in your research plan. Your research plan is the result of a process of consultation and feedback with your project supervisor and must be approved by him / her. Your supervisor will be able to provide ongoing feedback in regard to the progress of your project throughout the term.


Assessment task 1: Final Report


The following graduate attributes are assessed in this task:

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application.

2. An Inquiry-oriented approach.

3. Professional skills and their appropriate application.

4. The ability to be a lIfe-long learner.

5. Engagement with the needs of society.

6. Communication skills.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3, 4 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1 and 6.1

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 70%

Assessment task 2: Seminar


The following graduate attributes are assessed in this task:

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application.

2. An Inquiry-oriented approach.

6. Communication skills.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

2, 4 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.1, 2.1 and 6.1

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

Minimum requirements

In any assessment task worth 40% or more of the final, overall assessment, you are required to obtain at least 40% of the possible marks for that task, in order to pass the subject. If a mark of 40% or more in not achieved, a fail grade (X) may be awarded for this subject, regardless of an aggregate mark of 50% or greater for the subject, overall. Students must obtain a minimum of 50% for the cumulative marks in the subject in order to pass this subject.

Other resources

Additional resources for the subject will be made available on Canvas.