Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)


Department: Biological and Biomedical Sciences


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Module Cap


  • Any 'A' Level Science subject


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To present leading-edge research in biological sciences in a format suitable for a non-specialist audience
  • To raise awareness that current bioscience research has multiple approaches and the approaches taken are as a result of many influences on the researcher
  • To discuss the external drivers of current bioscience research
  • To examiner science communication and public understanding of science in the context of developments in research in biological sciences
  • To illustrate key factors of good and bad science


  • Research presentations by leading researchers on biological topics
  • Seminars and workshops on public understanding of science
  • Assignments are designed to promote self-learning of key concepts

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of contemporary research topics in biological sciences at a basic level
  • Understanding of methods of communication in fostering public understanding of science
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To prepare a written report on a specific topic that is organised and critical, and takes account of current developments in research in the field
  • To be aware of the wider ethical and social impact of advances in biological sciences
Key Skills:
  • Literacy, in being able to consult and extract information from printed and on-line sources
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures deliver subject-specific knowledge
  • Workshops reinforce subject-specific knowledge and understanding gained from lectures and the development of key and subject-specific skills
  • Self-guided learning contributes to subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation
  • Essays: demonstrate understanding of scientific topics and ability to synthesise information from different sources to produce a piece of written work which provides evidence of the student's level of knowledge

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 18 Weekly 1 hour 18
Seminars / Workshops 7 Fortnightly 2 hours 14
Preparation and Reading 168
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Extended essay 20%
Departmental Test I 2 hours 25%
Departmental Test II 2 hours 25%
Online Journal 20%

Formative Assessment:

Work associated with workshops / seminars

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University