MSci Pharmacology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Preclinical Study Design for Biomedical Research (L)

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL31841
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Preclinical Study Design for Biomedical Research will present key topics at the forefront of modern medical and life sciences research, from both academic and industry perspectives. The unit will draw together legislation and ethics, 3Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement), experimental design, data handling and statistics, interpretation of animal research and its translation to clinical research for students who may wish to follow a career path in academia or industry.


The aims of this unit is to provide a thorough understanding of the use of animals in research, with students developing abilities in experimental design, data interpretation, experience in dealing with experimental problems of a realistic attitude to whole-animal research and an understanding of the basis of experimental variability.

PLEASE NOTE: This unit has restricted numbers and may not be possible for students to be enrolled on this unit during one-week course unit change period at the start of semester 1 (L) units.

Learning outcomes

  • To recognise different aspects of normal research behaviour and how these can be modified by drugs.
  • Develop an ability to design, analyse and interpret real experimental data.
  • Understand strengths and limitation of animal models and how these translate to clinical research.
  • Understand how to find, identify and interpret key data, concepts and ideas to pass these on to others.


Block Topic Teaching Assessment
1 Animal experimental design & statistics Workshops/ small group teaching

Experimental design using NC3Rs experimental design tool (10% unit mark peer review)

Paper critique (10% unit mark; group presenation)

2 Animal Models Workshops/ small group teaching Writing part of a Home Office Project License (40% of unit mark)
3 Analysis of Behavioural Experiments Workshops / small group teaching (introduction to behavioural tests and scoring experimental videos then analysing data) Conference abstract on data generated by the students plus figure(s) (40% unit mark)




Stream A: Animal handling & injection skills

Stream B: Translational Research from animal to man

Workshops/ small group teaching

Workshops/ small group teaching

Practical assessment (formative)

Panel Discussion (formative)


Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students are required to analyse statistically and represent graphically data generated in the workshop sessions.
Group/team working
Students will work in groups for some tasks and have individual responsibilities for group task outcomes.
Students will be responsible for planning experiments and writing section(s) of a Home Office Project Licence.
Oral communication
Students will participate in and lead discussions on multiple topics related to animal research.
Students will use the literature to extend knowledge and obtain a broad overview of the use of animals in research.
Written communication
Students will gain skills in writing research abstracts, paper critiques and section(s) of a Home Office Project Licence.

Assessment methods

Experimental Design (peer review) 20%, Home Office Project Licence (section) 40%, Conference Abstract and Figures (40%)

Feedback methods

Students will gain feedback in workshops and small group teaching sessions from different academic staff to gain a well-rounded view of animal research. They will also gain experience in giving peer feedback as well as recieving peer feedback. Written feedback on summative assessments will also be provided.

Recommended reading

Specified reading will be given on Blackboard and in workshops during the course.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 18
Independent study hours
Independent study 82

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Susan Cochran Unit coordinator

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