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Year of entry: 2024
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Course unit details:
|Available as a free choice unit?
This Research Skills Module is designed to develop your experimental design, report writing and practical skills. You will investigate a range of topics including the control of breathing in humans, the setting of the cell membrane potential and the stimulation of skeletal muscle contraction. You will design and carry out a research project related to the human response to exercise.
|Excitable Cells: the Foundations of Neuroscience
|Cell Membrane Structure & Function
|Membrane Excitability: Ion Channels & Transporters in Action
The Unit is aimed at students on the Degree Programmes of Physiology and Pharmacology/Medical Physiology. It may also be of interest to those studying Biomedical Sciences and Biology.
It is compulsory for students to have studied EITHER BIOL21141 Cell Membrane Structure & Function OR BIOL21321 Membrane Excitability: Ion Channels & Transporters in Action.
- To provide the opportunity for students to perform human volunteer practicals, an exercise project and to study cell physiological methods.
- To give the students experience in: data presentation, use of some standard statistical analyses and writing up results in publication format.
- To be able to devise, perform, analyse and write up (in publication format) a small scale research project relating to the human response to exercise.
- To be able to perform a range of experiments using standard physiological techniques and to learn the need for good experimental technique, laboratory practice and for control experiments.
- To use statistical techniques to analyse data.
Students will be allocated a mini-research project on an aspect of the human response to exercise. A minimum of two experimental days will be spent working on this project.
Further days will be devoted to: , investigating the effects of changes in motor nerve stimulus parameters on skeletal muscle contraction using the frog sciatic-gastrocnemius preparation; examining computer simulations of electrophysiological techniques and the function of the mammalian heart, and determining the control of ventilation by changes in blood gas concentrations.
Another element of the unit is using fluorescence microscopy to determine channel localization in the cultured cells.
An electronic manual will be provided, which will contain further recommended reading. The mini-research project will require students to do a short literature search.
- Analytical skills
- The report is expected to contain data which has been analysed using appropriate statistical tests. There are several parts of the practical work which require data handling.
- Group/team working
- Students work in groups of 8-12 to conduct exercise projects and 3-4 for control of breathing practicals.
- Students are free to design their own study (within the constraints of the ethical approval).
- A member of the group needs to ensure that experiments are conducted on time and in an appropriate manner.
- Project management
- Students are expected to design their own experiments (with advice from staff) and to manage their own time in the lab.
- Oral communication
- Students give small group presentations about their exercise projects to the rest of the group.
- Problem solving
- Questions associated with each practical.
- Students conduct research projects which aim to test a hypothesis they have thought up.
- Written communication
- Students are expected to write a report of their exercise project and short answer questions based on the other practical sessions.
- This unit gives students a good grounding in some basic physiological principles, as well as designing experiments using human volunteers.
|Written assignment (inc essay)
Students will write up their mini-research project in the style of a published paper, which will contribute 45% of the unit mark. The remaining 55% of marks will be derived from completion of online worksheets accompanying the other practical classes (50%) and a mark for the oral presentation (5%).
RSM Attendance guidelines
Students are expected to attend all scheduled RSM sessions on time (N.B. Health and safety information will be delivered at the start of practical sessions, and students who are not present at the start may be asked to leave the lab). Students who arrive late will be marked as absent for that session.
Failure to attend a session (an unauthorised absence) will result in a 10% (i.e. 10 mark) penalty being applied to the overall RSM mark (i.e. a student obtaining a mark of 65% overall will instead receive a mark of 55%).
Further absences will result in further penalties (i.e. 2 absences = a penalty of 20% (as described above)).
Feedback will be provided on online worksheets, most of which will be returned during the RSM. The mini project report will be marked on Blackboard and extensive feedback will be provided before the end of the Semester.
- McArdle, W.D. et al (2009) Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy and Human Performance. 7th Ed. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
Staff will recommend reviews about some of the cell physiological methods employed. Students will be expected to perform literature searches as part of the mini-project.
|Scheduled activity hours
|Practical classes & workshops
|Independent study hours
Students only need to take ONE of the 2 mandatory co-units:
BIOL21142 OR BIOL21321