Botany & Zoology
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Honours guide for prospective students

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​STATISTICS: Experimental design and data analysis are arguably the most important skills required by any scientist and thus this forms the bulk of the generic module requirements for the Honours course. An intensive introductory statistics course will run for the first 6 weeks of term (TR).
{An exam is associated with this component of the generic module}

​READING AND WRITING IN SCIENCE: During the course of the Honours year students will be required to read many scientific papers and to distinguish good from weak ones. Students will receive a library tour and guidance on effective reading, searching and evaluating literature. Students will receive training in scientific writing skills (SRD).

ETHICS/PHILOSOPHY: Students will receive three lectures (including a guest lecturer from the philosophy department) and a series of discussion sessions around a selected philosophy of science book (JvdH).
{1 assignment}

BOOKS: Two books will be assigned which students will be required to read during the course of the year. There will be a group discussion session around each of the books.
1. Silent Spring; Rachel Carson

2. TBA
{1 book review/essay and questions on the general exam}

FIELDTRIP: All students are required to attend a 6 day fieldtrip running from 19th-24nd March. This will take students through diverse Cape landscapes in search of fossils and all array of extant biota (JvdH).
{1 popular science article on some aspect of the fieldtrip}

CAREER PREPARATION: An introduction to the biology job market, writing good CVs, choosing references, the job interview process and the South African scientific structures.

CONFERENCE ATTENDANCE: Students have a choice of conferences. They may either attend the Zoological Society of Southern Africa (www.zssa.org.za) or the Fynbos Forum (www.fynbosforum.org.za). This will provide students with broader exposure to the scientific community, scientific communication and research.  

EXAMINATION
The generic skills modules will be assessed as follows:

  1. General written exam – this will comprise essay questions designed to test students’ general understanding of broad currently relevant aspects of biology. It will draw on experience gained during the generic modules, the choice modules and student’s continued reading of the newspapers and tabloid scientific literature. In addition students will be required to answer an essay question on one (or more) of the allocated set books.
  2. General oral exam – students will be required to answer questions posed by a panel of 3 or 4 academics. These questions will probe students’ general understanding and ability to build logical arguments about broad topics in biology. The oral exam will also provide students with experience of an interview situation, something that they’re likely to encounter during their future careers.
  3. Stats exam - students will be required to complete a hands-on exam on the statistics material covered during the course.
  4. Book review – All students will be required to write one book-review/essay.
  5. Popular scientific article – students will be required to write a popular scientific article (such as published in Veld and Flora) based on something they encounter during the Karoo fieldtrip which catches their interest. These are not just trip reports, but will also require some additional literature research by the students. 
  6. Philosophy assignment. ​​