BIOL412-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024

Research Proposal

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 July 2024
End Date: Sunday, 10 November 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 28 July 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 29 September 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.

    Āhuatanga Tāura | Graduate Attributes
    Critically competent  X
    Employable, innovative and enterprising  X
    Biculturally competent and confident  X
    Engaged with the community
    Globally aware  X


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 Monday 10:00 - 11:00 Jack Erskine 101
15 Jul - 21 Jul
9 Sep - 15 Sep
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 09:00 - 11:00 Ernest Rutherford 141
22 Jul - 4 Aug
Workshop A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 10:00 - 13:00 A2 Lecture Theatre (19/8)
Rehua 005 (30/9)
19 Aug - 25 Aug
30 Sep - 6 Oct

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. There will be five formal components. These will include:

1. The Scientific Method: moving from questions to hypotheses. The focus will be on hypothesis development (led by David Schiel, Ren Dobson, Hazel Chapman, and Daniel Stouffer). Preparation required.

2. Proposal writing: creating and communicating ideas from the literature. (Led by  Ximena Nelson and Daniel Stouffer). Preparation required.

3. Project development: participating as part of a research team to develop a research project. Requires meeting with at least one academic staff member and their associated research team to discuss and develop research opportunities. We recommend that this process starts late in your first semester of 4th year and continues during the break between semesters so that you are in a better position to make progress on your proposal in your second semester of 4th year.

4. Development of bicultural understanding and competence in research. We will attend a workshop coordinated by the Māori Development Team (for date and time see LEARN).

5. Research engagement. You are required to attend at least four research seminars given within the School (these are generally held on Thursday at 12 pm, but keep an eye out for weekly announcements as times/venues do change). This is a compulsory requirement and you will be asked to sign a register for those seminars you attend.

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

Tammy Steeves

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 20% Short (5 mins, 4 slides) oral presentation/proposal on your chosen research topic in a mini-conference setting
Research Proposal 70%
Draft research proposal A draft research proposal will be submitted at the start of term 2 and will be assessed by your peers.
Peer-review 10% Peer-review of a fellow student's research proposal draft

Textbooks / Resources

Additional reading of recent books and scientific papers will be an essential adjunct to the tutorials, and development of the ability to evaluate such readings is an important objective for the course.

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