BIOL412-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

Research Proposal

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 3 March 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


To introduce and develop skills in the synthesis of research findings and the writing of a detailed research proposal.

The general aim of the course is to prepare postgraduate students to engage in research through the development of a detailed research proposal – it has been designed for BSc (Hons), MSc Pt I and PGDipSci students as a compulsory component of the 4th year postgraduate experience. It comprises a series of modules in contemporary research methodology and proposal preparation and time to engage with potential supervisors to discuss project ideas. The skills and perspectives developed in this course will serve students progressing to research projects (in BSc Hons and MSc PtII) and those students who decide to pursue other careers.

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 proposal presentation).
  • Synthesise primary scientific literature to generate a clear and concise argument in support of a perspective (assessment task: research proposal).
  • Critically evaluate a colleague’s work and generate constructive feedback (assessment task: peer-assessment of research proposal draft).
  • Synthesise primary scientific literature to provide in-depth background and context for understanding and critical evaluation of topics in biological sciences (assessment task: research proposal).
  • Apply an understanding of scientific practice in a bicultural context to the generation of new testable hypotheses and to the development of advanced methodologies for testing hypotheses (assessment task: methodology section of research proposal).

    Pūkenga Ngaio | Transferable Skills
    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • Writing a literature review to focus ideas for research proposals. This is essential for MSc Pt I students to be fully prepared for Pt II. Beyond University this skill is important for any career in research or in an NGO, where you will need to write convincing applications for increasingly-limited funding. We will have tutorials to provide instruction on the elements of successful proposals and develop your abilities to identify these elements in group sessions.
  • 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 BIOL412, we develop your abilities to identify the essential elements of research outputs - you will now use these skills in your proposal.
  • Research design. Important for research and in governmental and non-governmental organisations. We will provide discipline-specific advice on the major elements involved in developing testable questions and designing research projects.
  • Writing critical summaries of other work. Clear and constructive written criticism is essential in most professional careers. In a tutorial, we will provide instruction on the elements of successful critical assessment and help you identify these elements with clear marking rubrics – you will use these in your peer-review of a colleague’s work.
  • Verbal presentation. In most careers in science the ability to present findings clearly in verbal form is likely to be critical. In BIOL412, we provide clear guidance on what makes a good presentation and you will test these skills in your proposal presentation.


BIOL411. For those students who begin 4th year in the middle of the year, BIOL411 and BIOL412 must be completed in Semester 1 of the following year.



Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 12:00 - 13:00 - 19 Feb - 25 Feb
22 Apr - 28 Apr
20 May - 26 May
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 12:00 - 14:00 Julius von Haast 323
26 Feb - 10 Mar
13 May - 19 May

Timetable Note

Akoranga | Tutorials
These have been included in the course to allow for in-depth instruction and group discussions on specific topics and to provide skills training to enable you to be more effective in planning and writing a research proposal.

It is important that you treat these sessions as important for your personal development – please take notes and actively engage in the group activities. You will be assigned to a ‘work-team’ to work in during some of the sessions.

IMPORTANT - Beyond the formal sessions there is an expectation of significant self-directed learning (Ako takitahi) – this is true of all 4th-year course, but particularly this one. The sessions will require a degree of up-front preparation. Beyond the formal sessions, students will have time to engage with academic staff and postgraduate students within the School to discuss research opportunities and project ideas, and to write their research proposal. Students should note that in the Science Faculty the average student is responsible for 10-12 hours of study per credit point – this equates to approximately 150+ hours for this course.

Course Coordinator

Matthew Turnbull

Pūkenga | Teachers
This is a team-taught course with contributions from a range of staff within the school.


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Short verbal presentation 15% (5 mins, 4 slides) oral presentation/proposal on your chosen research topic in a mini-conference setting
Research modules 15% Brief reflections will be sumitted by each student for four research modules, each worth 2.5%
Research proposal 60% A final research proposal (MSc/PGDipSci) or thesis introduction (Hons) will be submitted
Peer-review 10% Peer-review of a fellow student's research proposal draft

Course links

Course outline

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,145.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL412 Occurrences