Year of entry: 2020
Course unit details:
Current Topics in Biology
|Unit level||Level 2|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 2|
|Offered by||School of Biological Sciences|
|Available as a free choice unit?||Yes|
Entertainment or news media frequently sensationalise biological and biomedical stories, either oversimplifying the topic or through inaccurate reporting ('Spicy diet can beat dementia' anybody?’).
This unit considers topical issues within biology, exploring the science behind the headlines to help you develop an informed opinion, and to discuss potential future directions of selected topics.
Topics will include:
- The basics of DNA and beyond
- Development and stem cells
- Precision medicine
- Human brain function
- Microbes and infectious disease
- Conservation biology
If you have an interest in life sciences, but haven't had the opportunity to study it at a higher level, then this is the unit for you. You will work alongside students from a wide range of disciplines.
UCIL units are designed to be accessible to undergraduate students from all disciplines.
UCIL units are credit-bearing and it is not possible to audit UCIL units or take them for additional/extra credits. You must enrol following the standard procedure for your School when adding units outside of your home School.
If you are not sure if you are able to enrol on UCIL units you should contact your School Undergraduate office. You may wish to contact your programme director if your programme does not currently allow you to take a UCIL unit.
You can also contact the UCIL office if you have any questions.
The aim of this unit is to introduce you to topical areas of bioscience, building from basic knowledge towards engaging with current research literature.
On successful completion of the unit, you will be able to:
- Describe and evaluate the basic science underpinning current topical issues in the biological sciences
- Debate and defend informed opinions about current biology issues including their impact on society
- Work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary team to investigate and present an aspect of bioscience research
In addition, for 20 credits:
- Prepare written communications aimed at both scientific and non-technical/public audiences
Topics covered in previous years:
- The basics of DNA...and beyond: what have we learnt from sequencing the human genome?
- Development and Stem cells: how does the fertilised egg become a fully formed adult body? What are stem cells and what are their potential medical uses?
- Precision Medicine: tailoring drug treatments for individuals. Why do some patients respond better than others to the same treatment?
- Conservation Biology: what is biodiversity, can we protect it and why should we care? Should we worry about invasive species?
- The Human Brain: how do nerve cells communicate? Understanding neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
- Microbes and infectious disease: what issues are the most pressing for microbiologists today? Understanding flu, superbugs (MRSA) and sexually-transmitted diseases. Just how important are our gut bacteria?
Teaching and learning methods
|Written assignment (inc essay)||40%|
Prerequisites: None required.
Students from the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, with the exception of Psychology, are not eligible to take this unit.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Work based learning||1|
|Independent study hours|
|Ruth Grady||Unit coordinator|