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ES96R Professional Skills

(15 credits)sus.jpg

Module Leader: Dr Benoit Jones

BTS Champion: Ross Dimmock

Other staff: Sophie Reissner-Roubicek, Lynnette Richards, Siobhan Qadir

Module Specification:


To prepare students for working effectively individually and in teams to complete the MSc course and in preparation for their careers in industry.

Learning Outcomes: At completion, students will be able to:

  • Identify and evaluate information, presenting the output in a well-structured and appropriately referenced literature review.
  • Critically evaluate data and present the information in a well-reasoned and presented report having a recognised technical structure.
  • Evaluate and communicate complex information via an oral presentation.
  • Work constructively as a team to address a public concern; to evaluate a complex issue and provide a sound, systematic and accessible presentation of that issue to a public audience; appraise and effectively respond to team and cultural issues.

Syllabus: Overview:

  • Information skills: Use of word processors, spreadsheets, database software.
  • Library skills: journals, patent specifications, abstracting and citation indexes. On-line computer search of databases: WoS, Engineering Village, etc. Preparing to search; Finding information; Evaluating information; Working with information; Staying legal.
  • Writing skills: literature survey, technical reports
  • Presentation skills: oral presentations; objectives, visual aids.
  • Public engagement: public speaking, managing expectations and public relations.
  • Team working skills: personal awareness, non-verbal communication, verbal communication, inter-personal skills, personal action plans.
  • Effective teams: composition and operation. Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Management teams roles indicator (MTRi)
  • Cultural skills: understanding cultural diversity, effective communication across cultures
  • Career management skills: Career action plans, reactive & proactive job hunting, understanding the recruitment process


Wednesday 1st - Friday 3rd October 2014 - Course induction, including MSc Handbook 2014-15, research methods, referencing, introduction to the library by Helen Ireland and a site visit to Liverpool Street.

Monday 1st - Friday 5th December 2014 - Communication and Leadership Week: Timetable, Learning Points, Ross Dimmock's lecture, FeedForward.

Friday 5th December 2014Public Engagement Exercise (assessed 0.25). You will be put in three teams, each team will be given details of a project and given time to prepare. Each team will then briefly present their project for a maximum of 10 minutes and then they will be questioned for up to 30 minutes by the local community (which comprises the other teams and the assessors).

Wednesday 4th March 2015Presentations (assessed 0.25). A maximum 10 minute presentation based on your technical note.

Technical Note (assessed 0.25, set on 16th December 2014, deadline at 2pm on 2nd February 2015).

Provide a 2000 word (+/- 10% on word count is acceptable, not including captions and references) literature review on the subject of steel fibre reinforced concrete (SFRC) used in tunnelling. You may choose to concentrate on precast concrete segments or sprayed concrete, steel fibres used in combination with conventional reinforcement, or on its own, steel fibres vs. plastic fibres, or on some other aspect of your choosing.

You should try to focus on one specific aspect. The report must be technical and must have focus; you will be marked down for trying to cover everything related to the subject in a vague manner. The exact wording of the title is up to you, but try not to make it too long and ensure it is relevant to what you have done. Referencing must be done properly in Harvard style – see the notes I gave you during the induction for assistance with this or refer to examples in journals that use Harvard style, such as Geotechnique.

Remember that a literature review must not just report “so-and-so did this and so-and-so said that”, but should be a critical evaluation of the work of others, and place their work in context. Compare and contrast, and synthesise. For example, do the results of experiments match what is observed in practice, are the conclusions of a paper backed up by the research work presented, does one paper conflict with another? What is the relevance of the findings? Are they not particularly relevant, or perhaps more relevant than the authors supposed? Every sentence in a literature review is a factual statement based on evidence, and you need to provide that evidence by providing references or by deduction, so that the reader may follow and agree with your line of reasoning. It should have a logical structure and flow, and should tell a story.

You will marked on the quality and precision of your technical writing, the breadth and depth of your review of the literature, the appropriateness of the references you make to the work of others, the appropriate use of figures, the avoidance of plagiarism (see Student Handbook) and the logical structure and flow (style). The assessment form is available here.

Essay (assessed 0.25, set on 16th December 2014, deadline at 2pm on 7th May 2015. Provide a 2000 word (+/- 10% on word count is acceptable, not including captions and references) essay on "Intercultural communication in the construction industry". You may find references in fields other than civil engineering, for instance the social sciences or business. Marks will be awarded for clear, cogent arguments, supported by high quality references (i.e. do not only use web google sources. Peer reviewed papers and industry publications should be cited and fully referenced using Harvard style as for the Technical Note above). Marks will also be awarded for structure, writing style, readability and presentation. Ensure you avoid plagiarism (refer to Student Handbook). It may help to imagine that you are trying to persuade the reader of the importance of intercultural communication.