Capstone I

General Course Information

Course Lecturer Name(s):  Stephen Nimrod & Paula Spiniello

Course Director Name: Patricia Rosa

Course Lecturer(s) Contact Information:;

Course Director Contact Information: 

Course Lecturer(s) Office Hours: TBD 

Course Director Office Hours: N/A

Course Lecturer(s) Office Location:  2nd floor Caribbean House

Course Director Office Location: N/A

Course Support:   Anna Neckles-Thomas,, x3435

Course Management tool: To learn to use Sakai, the Course management tool, access the link

Course Curriculum Information

Course Description: 

This capstone course will allow students to develop an independent enquiry-based research project where students apply the knowledge and skills acquired throughout their program, while being mentored by a faculty member. Students will be tasked with formulating a research question and testable hypotheses, review relevant literature, develop a research design and methods, and present a written and oral research design to a committee.

Course Objectives: 

The goal of this capstone project is to demonstrate knowledge and skills learned in the program, including scientific knowledge, quantitative literacy, and communication skills, by developing an enquiry-based research project.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Integrate previous knowledge and experience to develop an enquiry-based research project. 
  2. Conduct a literature review where information is synthesized into a novel interpretation that will guide the development of a research question. 
  3. Demonstrate that potential logistical constraints and ethical implications have been considered and, if necessary, implemented. 
  4. Communicate effectively the project rationale, design, hypotheses, methods, and timeline to a committee.

Technical Skills Outcomes: 

TSO-BIOL420-1-Use of experimental design techniques to develop research questions and testable hypotheses.

TSO-BIOL420-2-Use of survey techniques and methods to collect data.

TSO-BIOL420-3-Use of spreadsheets to enter, collate, analyze, and display data graphically.

TSO-BIOL420-4-Use of statistical software to conduct data analyses (e.g., SPSS, SAS, R).

TSO-BIOL420-5-Use of statistical software to display data graphically (e.g., SPSS, SAS, R).

TSO-BIOL420-6-Use of word processing and presentation software to display and communicate data.

Program Outcomes Met By This Course:

MWC-PLO1. KNOWLEDGE: Apply knowledge of the biological and physical components of life, and use this knowledge to understand the interrelationships of organisms with each other and their physical environments. 

MWC-PLO2. APPLICABILITY: Analyze key global ecological and conservation issues to promote long-term species viability and health of marine and terrestrial environments, with an emphasis on the Caribbean. 

MWC-PLO3. RESEARCH: Apply scientific method, ecological and quantitative concepts, and technical skills to design and conduct novel field and laboratory experiments, while considering ethical and regulatory implications.

MWC-PLO4. COMMUNICATION & CRITICAL THINKING: Use relevant scientific literature and demonstrate independent, critical thinking while communicating scientific knowledge effectively in different media.

SAS Grading Scale: Grades will be assigned as follows:

A  = 89.5% or better

B+ = 84.5 - 89.4%

B  = 79.5 - 84.4%

C+ = 74.5 - 79.4%

C = 69.5 - 74.4%

D = 64.5 - 69.4%

F = 64.4% or less 

Course Materials:

Text: Various peer-review journals, textbooks, and reports relevant to the research topic Supplementary Readings/Resources: N/A

Course Grading Requirement:

  • Literature review: 20%
  • Research proposal: 50% 
  • Oral presentation: 30%

Course Requirements:

See Capstone Handbook for a detailed breakdown.  

Course Schedule


  1. Jan. 18            1-Guidelines and requirements for the capstone project 
  2. Jan. 25            2-Project development and mentor                      
  3. Feb. 1             Independent session: Find faculty advisor
  4. Feb. 8             3-Literature review
  5. Feb. 15          4-Academic writing, citing, and formatting
  6. Feb. 22          5-Research design and methods
  7. Mar. 1             EVALUATION: Literature review (20%)
  8. Mar. 7–11: MIDTERM WEEK
  9. Mar. 15          6-Research ethics, health, and safety 
  10. Mar. 22          7-Research proposal                        
  11. Mar. 29          Independent session: Seek feedback on research proposal from faculty advisor                         
  12. Apr. 3             8-Oral presentation
  13. Apr. 12          EVALUATION: Research proposal (50%)
  14. Apr. 19          Independent session: Finalize oral presentation with faculty advisor                            
  15. Apr. 26          EVALUATION: Oral presentations (30%)
  16. May 2–6: FINAL EXAM WEEK

School of Arts and Sciences Master Syllabi — Info for All Sections

Plagiarism Policy

Academic Integrity

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Plagiarism is regarded as a cardinal offense in academia because it constitutes theft of the work of someone else, which is then purported as the original work of the plagiarist. Plagiarism draws into disrepute the credibility of the Institution, its faculty, and students; therefore, it is not tolerated” (p. 48).

Plagiarism also includes the unintentional copying or false accreditation of work, so double check your assignments BEFORE you hand them in.

Be sure to do good, honest work, credit your sources and reference accordingly and adhere to the University’s Honor Code. Plagiarism and cheating will be dealt with very seriously following the university’s policies on Plagiarism as outlined in the Student Manual.

Your work may be subject to submission to plagiarism detection software, submission to this system means that your work automatically becomes part of that database and can be compared with the work of your classmates.

Attendance Requirement

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Students are expected to attend all classes and or clinical rotations for which they have registered. Although attendance may not be recorded at every academic activity, attendance may be taken randomly. Students’ absence may adversely affect their academic status as specified in the grading policy. If absence from individual classes, examinations, and activities, or from the University itself is anticipated, or occurs spontaneously due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, proper notification procedures must be followed. A particular course may define additional policies regarding specific attendance or participation” (p. 9).

Examination Attendance

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

All matriculated students are expected to attend all assigned academic activities for each course currently registered. Medical excuses will be based on self-reporting by students. Students who feel they are too sick to take an examination or other required activity on a specific day must submit the online SAS medical excuse, which is available on Carenage. Students are only allowed two such excuses a year. Upon consultation with the Director of University Health Service, the third excuse will result in a mandatory medical leave of absence. The policies regarding make-up examinations are at the option of the Course Director” (p.46).

For additional specific examination policies and procedures, refer to the St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020), pages 31 through 37.

Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services Policy

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

A student with a disability or disabling condition that affects one or more major life activities, who would like to request an accommodation, must submit a completed application form and supporting documentation to the Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services (SAAS) located in the Dean of Students Office. It is highly recommended that students applying for accommodations do so at least one month before classes begin to allow for a more efficient and timely consideration of the request. If a fully completed application is not submitted in a timely fashion, an eligibility determination may not be made, and accommodations, where applicable, may not be granted prior to the commencement of classes and/or examinations” (p. 8).


It is the responsibility of the student to read and understand the policies, laws, rules and procedures that while they could affect your grade for a course, have not been specifically outlined in the course syllabus. These are contained in the St. George’s University Student Manual.