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MSci Genetics

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
MSci Experimental Skills Module

Unit code BIOL33012
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


Students will complete a group research project within this unit. They will be placed in groups and will be given an experimental problem that is appropriate to their degree. The group will be expected to design the appropriate experiments to test the problem, execute the experiments and then present their findings in a form appropriate for this kind of research.

The experiments will be planned as a group with the support of a member of academic staff. Students will be expected to explore the range of different approaches available, select the most appropriate approach and plan the suitable controls. It is planned that these approaches will involve current research techniques that are supported within the Faculty. The students will then perform experimental work in small teams or pairs within their group to execute their part of the experimental plan. The expectation is that the group as a whole will perform a range of experiments that complement each other to address the problem.  



Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
MSci Research Project Proposal BIOL33000 Co-Requisite Compulsory


The unit aims to increase the students understanding of the following:

•         Experimental design

•         Team working in a research environment

•         Practical skills associated with current approaches in life science research

•         Data analysis and interpretation using multiple experimental approaches and lines of evidence


Learning outcomes


To be able to analyse complex processes at cellular, whole organism or ecosystem levels.


To be able to design experimental approaches to ask questions regarding these complex



To acquire experience of current life science methodologies appropriate to their strand.


To be able to interpret complex experimental results, obtained using diverse approaches.


To interpret multiple lines of evidence to test a hypothesis.


To be able to present their results in ways appropriate to the relevant scientific community.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Small group tutorials for planning and experimental design.
  • Group based learning approaches to develop ideas for the experimental approach.
  • Practical sessions in labs or field.
  • Possible development of eLearning resources for different experimental techniques to support the learning process.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Analyse complex processes at cellular, whole organism or ecosystem levels.
  • Design experimental approaches to ask these questions.

Intellectual skills

  • Design and interpret complex experiments, using diverse approaches.
  • Interpret multiple lines of evidence to test a hypothesis.

Practical skills

  • Acquire experience of current life science methodologies appropriate to their assigned project.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Team work.
  • Problem solving.
  • Data presentation.
  • Project management.
  • Time management.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Critical appraisal of research papers
Project management
To be able to work in a group to meet deadlines for written and experimental work.
Problem solving
Planning of experimental strategies to test a specific hypothesis
Learning experimental techniques and applying these to achieve your planned goals
Written communication
Scientific writing skills preparing a paper and a poster

Assessment methods

A two page Experimental Plan describing the technique, experimental design and statistics that an individual student will use to complete their own component of the overall experimental plan (15%). A five page Practical Write-up of the results obtained by the individual student or group, presenting data in an appropriate style for publication along with a short introduction and conclusion (45%). This component can also include deposition of data into an appropriate database. Performance within the tutorials and laboratory sessions (10%). Preparation of a group A1 poster that is suitable for an international scientific conference (20%) A ten minute presentation (with an additional five minutes question time) of the poster to the academic assessors as an individual at a poster session for all MSci students (10%).


Feedback methods

You will obtain feedback on:

  • Experimental Plan via Grademarand from academic staff.
  • Practical Write-up via Grademark.
  • Group Poster via Grademark and from academic staff.
  • Poster Presentation at the MSci Poster Presentation Session.

Recommended reading

Specific review articles and research papers relevant to the research topic.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 36
Tutorials 4
Independent study hours
Independent study 160

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Gilmore Unit coordinator

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