BI3S78-Seminars in Biology

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Louise Johnson


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module utilises seminar series in SBS and other relevant Schools. Students will attend their choice of ten or more life science research seminars throughout the academic year, and write and submit a report for each. Assessment will be based on three assignments: an MCQ test on experimental design and statistics; a Summary Paragraph based on a result presented at a seminar; and a portfolio of seminar reports accompanied by a synoptic essay.


Students will: deepen their understanding of statistics and experimental design; encounter a range of research ideas and techniques; gain experience in learning from the seminar format; develop communication skills; critically assess research and place studies in wider context; synthesise information from multiple seminars to answer an essay question.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Students will be able to: • Describe and detect common errors in experimental design and statistical analysis • Describe a range of current research programmes in their preferred field(s) of biology, and identify the investigators leading these programmes of research. • Take informative notes during seminars and summarise them effectively. • Find publications relevant to presented research in the scientific literature and cite them appropriately.  • Conduct background study through further reading of the primary literature to critically analyse research presented at seminars. • Critique the content of a research seminar, and assess the importance and relevance of its conclusions.• Synthesise information from multiple seminars to discuss a question about the process of scientific enquiry

Additional outcomes:
Students should develop time management skills, gain insight as to whether postgraduate research interests them and awareness of the importance of presentation and communication skills. It is also possible they may identify potential supervisors or subject areas for postgraduate research.

Outline content:

Content will vary depending on student choice of seminar topics, but will include cutting-edge primary research in specialist subject areas. All students will complete self-directed study on statistics and experimental design to prepare them to get the best out of the seminars.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Seminars on primary research in life science topics; guided study on statistics and experimental design; independent study to find and understand relevant primary and secondary scientific literature. Introductory lectures, and ongoing guidance where needed, will be provided by the module convenor.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 1 1
Seminars 5 5
Guided independent study 44 44
Total hours by term 50.00 50.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 80
Class test administered by School 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:
No examination

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will complete an online test on experimental design (20%) early in the Autumn term and a very short written assignment (Summary Paragraph; 30%) late in Autumn term. A portfolio containing guided summaries of each seminar attended plus a synoptic essay will also be submitted in the middle of Spring Term. There is no final exam.

Formative assessment methods:
Opportunities for peer feedback on drafts of written work will be provided.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    By examination in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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