NR591(A-D) - Research Project Report

Unit Handbook and Assessment Information

Trimester 1-3, 2020

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Unit Information

Welcome to NR591(A–D)! These units have been designed to allow students to pursue individual research interests by undertaking an agreed program of detailed independent study under academic supervision within a disciplinary area relevant to the School of Environmental and Rural Science.

Students enrolled under 2015 rules and onwards must have achieved a grade of Credit or better in the units SCI500 (or ERS502 from 2016 onwards) and ERS501 to be eligible to enrol in NR591A-D. All Students pre 2015 rules are asked to contact the Course Coordinator in the first instance.

NR591 is comprised of four separate units, NR591A, NR591B, NR961C and NR591D, with each unit contributing to the final research project.  Each unit is worth six credit points. Students will be assessed as completing NR591A, NR591B, and NR591C to supervisor's satisfaction. NR591D will be graded by two examiners' (one external) of either: a 20 000 word research project report, or one or more papers of a publishable standard, and written in a peer reviewed journal, as follows:

  • NR591A Literature Review – prepare and complete a 6000-word literature review for your independent research project
  • NR591B Study Design and Methods – develop and write up the study design and methods (e.g. data collection, quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques and ethics approval) for your independent research project
  • NR591C Results and Analysis – report the results of the research and data analysis for your independent research project
  • NR591D Discussion and Conclusions – write a critical discussion and conclusions for your independent research project; compile the separate outputs from NR591A–D and submit the completed report for examination to the University.

Enrolment in NR591(A–D) must be approved by the Course Coordinator or their nominee. To study these units you will be required to negotiate a topic with one or more supervisors and submit a satisfactory proposal. Approval is dependent on the availability of supervision and resources.

Unit coordinator

Contact details

Feel free to contact me for any matter relating to your enrolment in the NR591(A–D) units:

Dr David Backhouse

Phone: +61 2 6773 2341
Fax: 02 6773 2769

The best way to get in touch with me is to email me at my UNE account (above). I generally respond within 24–48 hours.

School of Environmental and Rural Science

If you have administrative enquiries about your unit/course, you can contact UNE administrative staff directly via AskUNE.

Phone: 02 6773 2000 (Student Central) or Ms Karen Morris 02 6773 3455

Student Central

Student Central provides you with a focal point of contact for all your administrative enquiries during your study at UNE, including selecting units and managing your enrolment. If you have administrative enquiries relating to your study at UNE, go to AskUNE.

You can also find information on all aspects of studying at UNE on the Current Students page.

Prior to Enrolment

Prior to enrolment students should finalise the enrolment proposal and research project report outline with their nominated supervisor(s). These documents (along with an email from both the student and supervisor stating their intentions and willingness to form a research partnership) should be forwarded to Unit Co-ordinator of NR591, who will recommend to the Course Coordinator and Student Central that you be enrolled in the relevant units. Note that the project report outline is only a plan. With the approval of your supervisor, you may diverge from the plan as the research unfolds.

Procedure for Enrolment

The procedure for enrolment in NR591(A–D) is outlined below. Students are required to:

  1. Study the unit information and additional information for NR591(A-D) in the course and unit catalogue in the UNE web pages.
  2. Identify an area of research in which you are interested.
  3. Identify one or more members of academic staff as potential supervisors.
  4. With the assistance of your supervisor(s), negotiate an enrolment proposal that outlines the trimesters in which each of the units is to be undertaken.
  5. With the assistance of your supervisor(s), develop a research project report outline (1–2 pages) indicating:
    1. the project title
    2. your name and student number
    3. your supervisor(s)
    4. background to the research problem (include references)
    5. proposed research aims and objectives
    6. brief description of the methods (include references)
    7. brief description of expected findings
    8. expected project report outline (list of numbered chapters and subheadings)
    9. timeline of research (dates for the expected completion of chapters and sections)
    10. a short list of (at least 4–5) key references
    11. bibliography

Students with supervisors in the School of Environmental and Rural Science have a research budget of $1750 to meet research expenses, such as fieldwork costs, travel to field sites and laboratory analyses. Your supervisor(s) and the School Resource Officer (Shirley Fraser) must first approve any expenditure before funds are accessed or committed. Students with supervisors in other Schools need to ascertain the research funds available to support 24-credit point research projects in those Schools and make the necessary arrangements as instructed by their supervisor(s).

There are no set classes or teaching material provided for these units.

Prescribed text

There is no prescribed text for NR591(A–D).

Recommended reading

There are no recommended readings for NR591(A–D).  However, students are strongly encouraged to read refereed journal articles, book chapters and relevant online material relating to their chosen research topic, in consultation with their supervisor(s).

How to study NR591

Students will complete an approved program of study to include NR591A, NR591B, NR591C and NR591D. As a guide, each unit represents 150 hours of participation for the average student in order to achieve the learning outcomes.

In NR591A, NR591B and NR591C, you must work under the academic supervision of your supervisor(s) to (1) complete a literature review on your topic, (2) design your research and develop your methods, and (3) collect, analyse and report the results of your research, respectively. Students must simply satisfy requirements in NR591A, NR591B and NR591C, to the satisfaction of their supervisor(s).

In NR591D, you must work with your academic supervisor(s) to interpret and discuss your research findings and draw conclusions, as well as compiling the outputs from all four units into your research project report. This is examined by two independent examiners, one external to the university. The marking scale in NR591D is: 50–64% Pass, 65–74% Credit, 75–84% Distinction and 85–100% High Distinction.

You must aim to contact your supervisor(s) frequently in each trimester that you are enrolled in one or other NR591 unit (say every three weeks). In response, your supervisor(s) will answer your questions and provide feedback on your progress if you provide them with regular updates and queries.

Research Project Report (NR591D) write-up

The work submitted for examination must embody the results of your completed research project. Success depends on the examination of the project report. It is important that every action is taken to ensure that examiners are presented with a high-quality product. For the write-up stage, there are several publications or online services available that students may find helpful in the University Library and/or from your supervisor(s). One tip is to examine copies of successful theses/portfolios that are either kept by supervisors, your School, Dixson Library or via Research UNE. The Academic Skills Office also has books and resources on thesis writing available for loan, as does Dixson Library.

Format: the research project report should be clearly typewritten in A4 size. The spacing between lines should be either one and a half spaces.. There should be a margin of at least 30 mm on the inside margin of the page and a margin of at least 13 mm on the outside of the page.

Attachments: attachments (such as maps) should, where possible, form part of the electronic document. If this is not possible, they should be submitted separately in a strong enclosure. If the research project report contains photographs, it is preferable that any photographs be submitted in a maximum of 300 dpi.

The most important aspect of finalising your project report is to make sure you give yourself enough time to enable your supervisor(s) to critique preliminary drafts. Often candidates find themselves rushed but it is very much in your own interests to have your research project report vetted by the supervisor who is familiar with your topic. Students have considerable discretion regarding the extent to which they seek and accept supervisory assistance in analysis and writing up. By not seeking your supervisor's help, or ignoring their advice, you jeopardise your chances of success.

Standards of preparation

Length: the nominated word limit (provided in the degree rules) is not suggested as the lower limit that you should aim for in your research project report. A briefer report may well be acceptable; the rules state your research project report must be concise (and written in English). A project report requiring personal collection of raw data and complicated analysis may result in a substantial piece of excellent research that is considerably shorter than the word limit.  More discursive studies may result in greater difficulty in reducing the content to a clear concise form.

Style: a good command of English is essential.  The use of lists of points within the text as in this section, adoption of subheadings and the choice of referencing systems are left to your discretion in consultation with your supervisor(s).

Arrangement: if you choose to write up your research as a traditional thesis (i.e. research project report), the number and nature of chapter headings will vary, but most studies will include the following:

  1. An introductory chapter stating the problem and approach adopted
  2. A review of literature linking it to the problem in question
  3. The method of approach or analysis adopted
  4. A chapter or chapters describing the results or analysis
  5. A discussion chapter that explains the findings in light of what is already known, and highlights the significance or importance of the research in terms of current understanding
  6. A concluding chapter stressing the main findings and recommendations and indications for further research.

Abstract: the project report should contain, before the main contents, an abstract or summary. It is suggested that this should not be more than 350 words in length.

Appendices: items such as raw data, summary statistics, details about questionnaire schedules and explanation of how you performed various types of analysis form important aspects of your overall work as they are necessary in order to evaluate your arguments in the main text.  Nevertheless supportive material of this nature can confuse and protract narration of the research project report and, to avoid this problem, are often better relegated to appendices.  Your supervisor(s) should be able to give you advice.

Use of the Work of Others: you must state generally in the preface, acknowledgements and specifically in the research project report itself, the sources from which the information given is derived, the extent to which the work of others has been used, and the portion of the work claimed as original.

Work which has been presented for a degree or other qualification at this or another university or similar institution may not be presented as the research project report but may be included in the report, provided that it is clearly indicated as such.

Title Page: the title page should show:

  1. The title of the research project report
  2. Your full name together with degrees and other qualifications, and their institutions of origin
  3. The following statement:

    A research project report submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of  ......................................

  4. The month and year of submission of the research project report for examination.

Certificate: in each copy of the research project report the candidate is required to sign the following certificate which must preface the report:

I certify that the substance of this research project report has not already been submitted for any degree and is not currently being submitted for any other degree or qualification.

I certify that any help received in preparing this project report and all sources used, have been acknowledged in this research report.



Library Services

Find out at the library web site.This guide provides easy pathways to UNE’s vast online resources and shows how the library can help you with your studies. You can borrow books, obtain copies of articles and exam papers, and request advice from librarians on search strategies and information tools to use.

Learning support

The Academic Skills Office (ASO) is UNE's learning support unit. The ASO has a wealth of print and online resources to help you with your academic study skills development or problems. They can be found on the ASO web pages.

ASO fact sheets

The ASO has developed a series of fact sheets that answer the questions most frequently asked by students. They can be found on the ASO web pages.

ASO discussion forum

If you would like to discuss specific issues related to study skills or academic writing with an advisor, or benefit from the questions other students ask, you can log on to the ASO Discussion Forum at

Student Assist

Student Assist’s support services include disability and special needs support, counselling, and career development. To see the range of services they offer, go to their web pages.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

The Oorala Aboriginal Centre is a study support and advisory centre for internal and external Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at UNE. To find out more about the support services Oorala offers, go to their web pages.

International students

International Services provides support for international students and provides a link between the administrative and academic functions at UNE. For more information about the services offered, go to their web pages. The International Student Handbook is also available for download.

Assessment Information

Assessment details

Students will be assessed as completing NR591A, NR591B, and NR591C to supervisor's satisfaction. NR591D will be graded by two examiners' (one external) of either: a 20 000 word research project report, or one or more papers of a publishable standard, and written in a peer reviewed journal style.

The assessment of ‘satisfied requirements’ in NR591A, NR591B  and NR591C is based on the judgement of the supervisor(s) as to whether the student has satisfactorily completed the respective unit learning outcomes and is on track to at least be awarded a Pass in NR591, should the student maintain their current calibre of work.

The University’s grading system, below, is issued to examiners of NR591D research project reports. The examiners are also issued a marking proforma containing the criteria they should consider in arriving at their decision of a mark and grade to award (Appendix II for quantitative research, Appendix III for a project report by qualitative research). The marking scale in NR591D is as per Appendix IV.

Research project report (NR591D)

  • Due date: last day of trimester in which the student is enrolled in NR591D.
  • Weight: 100%
  • Length: 20,000 words maximum.


There is no UNE supervised examination for this unit.

Submission Method for NR591D

You are required to submit your project report electronically in pdf format to your principal supervisor and to the School Academic Coordinator ( Students must also provide two soft-bound copies. For your report to be accepted, the School Academic Coordinator (Ms Karen Morris) must first receive the Thesis Submission Form (Appendix I) signed by your principal supervisor.

When submitting the electronic copy of the research project report, please submit in Adobe format and preferably as one document.  If the project report is in more than one document each document must not be larger than 30 MB

If submitting your research project report in Journal Article Format, please refer to the Guidelines, available from UNE Research Services. With your supervisors, you can adapt the guidelines for journal paper format submission to meet the requirements of journal format submission for the NR591 research project report.

Plagiarism declaration

When you submit your research project report electronically you will be deemed, in effect, to have agreed to the UNE plagiarism policy. Your supervisor will run a Turnitin check on your final submitted project report prior to signing the Thesis Submission Form (Appendix I).

Marking Policy for NR591D Reports

All research project reports (theses) are assessed by two examiners (one external) appointed by the School on the recommendation of the relevant Head of School or Chair of the School Teaching and Learning Committee. While it is common to discuss possible examiners with your supervisor, all examiners are advised that they can report in confidence on your research project report. You will therefore, not be informed of the names of the examiners finally appointed by the School.

Research project reports are assessed like most other units at the University. Students will be given a grade in the range of HD through to N, based on the University grading system below. The project report will also be assigned a percentage score, which is used internally to check the level of agreement between examiners. Students will be provided with a copy of each examiner’s report (Appendix II or 111) with the grade and the percentage marks omitted, and recommendations made by the examiners.

Examiners consider the following when preparing their report:

  • Abstract or summary
  • Adequacy in defining the aim or objectives
  • Value, accuracy and criticism offered in the literature review or background of the study
  • Failure to cite key research papers
  • Accuracy in using facts and logic
  • Experimental and/or survey design (where applicable)
  • Originality of approach and analysis (where applicable)
  • Data analysis and presentation of results
  • Discussion of findings and justification of conclusions
  • Adequacy of proof-reading
  • Correctness of reference citations
  • Overall organisation and presentation

Word limits

The research project report word limit is 20 000 words. If students exceed this limit by more than 10%, permission must be obtained from the Chair of the relevant School Teaching and Learning Committee and the supervisor is obliged to inform potential examiners of the research project report length and establish that they are happy to examine an over-length report. Examiners are also provided with the NR591 rules specifying the length of the report. Examiners may therefore take the fact of an overly long report into account in deciding upon a mark and grade.


The School of Environmental and Rural Science mandates the APA referencing style for theses and research projects. A fact sheet providing a guide to the APA referencing style is available. Check with your supervisor as to what style is acceptable for your particular research project report.

Extensions for research students

Requests for extensions in coursework units such as NR591(A–D) are processed according to the University’s Special Assessment Policy (Annex B to the Assessment Policy). You can apply for a special extension of time under this policy for a period up to the last day of teaching in the trimester after the one in which you are enrolled.

Return of examined research project reports

Although the School places a time limit (usually two months) on examiners for the examination of theses and research project reports, some examiners are tardy in providing recommendations. In addition, if there is a disagreement between the examiners, delays will be experienced while the School asks the examiners to consult or has to appoint a third examiner.

While we take every step to ensure that project reports are examined as quickly as possible, some delays may occur.

Remarking of research project reports

Students may request that the research project report be remarked, in its original form, in circumstances where the student presents a case arguing that the original marking was unfair or inconsistent with marking guidelines. This request must be directly addressed to the unit coordinator, with a copy to the Head of School, by the student within ten (10) working days of receipt of the original marked report.

Assessment Policy

Information regarding all aspects of assessment.

Information about special assessment (i.e. Special Extension of Time).


You must comply with the University's rules on plagiarism and academic misconduct. Your work will be checked for originality.

Plagiarism is the action or practice of taking and using as one's own the thoughts or writings of another without acknowledgment. The following practices constitute acts of plagiarism and are a major infringement of UNE's academic values:

  • Where paragraphs, sentences, a single sentence or significant parts of a sentence are copied directly, are not enclosed in quotation marks and appropriately referenced
  • Where direct quotations are not used, but are paraphrased or summarised, and the source of the material is not referenced within the text of the paper
  • Where an idea which appears elsewhere in any form* is used or developed without reference being made to the author or the source of that idea.

*Some examples of this are books, journals, WWW material, theses, computer stored data and software, lecture notes or tapes.

Your responsibility

It is your responsibility to:

  • Read, understand and comply with the policy on Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct found at the website above
  • Familiarise yourself with the conventions of referencing for your discipline(s)
  • Avoid all acts which could be considered plagiarism or academic misconduct
  • Seek assistance from appropriate sources if you become aware that you need more knowledge and skills in relation to academic writing
  • Be aware that when you submit an assignment through the university’s e-Submission system, you are deemed to have signed the plagiarism declaration form
  • Submit a separate signed and dated plagiarism declaration form with every task, report or dissertation submitted in hard copy for assessment or examination.

Avoiding plagiarism

You should refer to the following websites for further advice and assistance:


Students wishing to lodge an appeal in relation to unit assessment, the application of faculty and school policies, and Special Extensions of Time, should consult the University's Student Appeals Policy.


If you have questions that are not answered by this Unit Outline, go to AskUNE. At AskUNE you can find answers to many common enquiries or submit an enquiry of your own by clicking on the 'Contact Us' tab.

Appendices I-IV (PDF)