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MSci Biology / Course details
Year of entry: 2021
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Course unit details:
MSci Project Literature Review and Research Proposal
|Unit level||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Offered by||School of Biological Sciences|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
This unit will introduce students to the critical reading and writing skills required to assess and author research papers and grants. Students will be split by their MSci degree programmes into three groups which largely reflect the scientific interests of the BBSRC, MRC and NERC.
Guidance will be given on how to critically read research papers and determine whether the experiments presented within a research paper address: the proposed hypothesis; are appropriately designed with suitable controls; and support the stated conclusions.
Guidance will be given on how to critically read and review grant applications to determine: whether the stated hypothesis is timely and interesting; and whether the proposed experiments will address the stated hypothesis and are not overly reliant on each other.
Through the remainder of semester 5, students will be expected to draw up 2x 5 page grant applications for their year 4 project in consultation with potential supervisors. The students will be expected to identify 2 members of academic staff whose work they find interesting, and then liaise with them to identify appropriate projects and discuss suitable experimental approaches.
The unit aims to:
- To introduce students to the critical reading and writing skills required to assess and author research papers and grants.
This unit will start with a week-long workshop in Welcome Week at which students will be introduced to the critical reading and writing skills they will need to assess and author research papers and grants. They will be expected to prepare reviews of both a paper and a grant, examining the proposed hypotheses, the experimental design and the experimental approaches. Consequently, they will start developing skills in experimental design to ensure the inclusion of appropriate controls and in the selection of suitable experimental approaches to address a particular hypothesis. All students following the MSci track will attend this workshop. However the students will be split by degree programme into three cohorts that largely reflect the scientific interests of the BBSRC, MRC and NERC. The acquisition of these skills will be assessed during the workshop by writing a 150 word abstract for a paper, a 2 page critical review of a paper similar to those written when a paper is reviewed for a journal, and a 2 page grant review, and through an oral grant pitch to a grant panel. Feedback will be given on the abstract and the grant pitch at the workshop. Feedback for the two written reviews will be through Grademark. During semester 5, the students will initially identify, with the help of their programme director, two members of academic staff within the Faculty whose work interests them. The students will then contact these members of academic staff and will develop with them a 5 page grant proposal that describes their year 4 project.
Knowledge and understanding
- Students will acquire an in depth knowledge of a current research area within the Faculty and appreciate the experimental approaches being taken to research that area.
- Students will acquire the ability to assess experiments described within a research paper and determine whether they address the proposed hypothesis and support the stated conclusions of the research paper.
- Students will acquire the ability to assess a research grant application to determine whether the application is timely and interesting, and to assess whether the described experiments address the proposed hypothesis within the grant and are designed appropriately with suitable controls.
- Students will acquire the ability to design experiments that test a hypothesis and describe these within a research grant application.
- Critical appraisal of research papers and grants
- Analysis of experimental design
- Planning of experimental strategies to test a specific hypothesis
- Selection of experimental approaches
- Scientific writing skills
- Literature searching skills
Transferable skills and personal qualities
- Students will learn to write reviews of research papers and grants.
- Students will learn to plan and write a research proposal.
- Students will learn to work and communicate with members of academic staff.
|Assessment||Length||How and when feedback is provided||Weighting|
|Paper abstract||150 words||Verbal feedback given during the course||5%|
|Paper review||2 pages||Annotated comments via Grademark within 15 working days of submission||10%|
|Grant review||2 pages||Annotated comments via Grademark within 15 working days of submission||10%|
|Grant pitch||10 minutes||Verbal feedback given during the course||5%|
|Two grant applications||6 pages each||Annotated comments via Grademark within 15 working days of submission||70%|
Reading will be based on current research papers and grant applications.
|Independent study hours|
|Kenneth Grieve||Unit coordinator|