Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to


  • None.


  • •A minimum of two modules from: BIOL1151 Physiology, BIOL1161 Organisms and Environment, BIOL1171 Genetics, BIOL1281 Molecules and Cells.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with a foundation in core mathematical and statistical techniques needed in modern biosciences.
  • To provide students with chemical knowledge and techniques appropriate for Level 1 Biological and Biomedical Sciences modules.
  • To provide general scientific training in quantitative analysis, problem solving and reporting.


  • Core mathematics, including: algebra, scientific notation, graphs and functions, elementary calculus (introduction to differentiation and integration), and an introduction to mathematical modelling.
  • Statistics, including: probability, means and errors, probability distributions, null hypothesis testing, t-tests, one and two factor analysis of variance, interactions, non-parametric statistics, and presentation of statistical results.
  • Basic chemical concepts; stoichiometry.
  • Chemical bonding and chemistry of the elements of biological molecules.
  • Solutions and solubility.
  • Biochemical thermodynamics, including electrochemistry and transport across membranes.
  • Chemical kinetics.
  • Problem solving exercises.
  • Practical classes for simple laboratory techniques and reporting.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of basic mathematical techniques used to support calculations and data analysis in biological and biomedical sciences.
  • Knowledge of simple and commonly adopted statistical methods used in data analysis in biological and biomedical analysis.
  • Appreciation of the basic scientific method and experimental design.
  • A knowledge of the chemistry required to study Level 1 Biological and Biomedical Sciences modules.
  • Basic understanding of the principles of chemistry sufficient to support subsequent learning in Biological Sciences and Biomedical Sciences degree programmes at levels 2 and 3.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to use simple mathematical formulae to carry out calculations and plot and interpret graphs.
  • To design simple experiements in order to test simple biological hypotheses.
  • To use basic statistical analyses to compare means and look for associations, and to estimate the statistical significance of differences and associations.
  • To be able to use basic chemical principles to interpret reactions taking place in living organisms.
  • To be able to quantitatively analyse the energetics and kinetics of chemical reactions in living organisms.
  • To be able to use common laboratory equipment and interpret simple chemical principles.
Key Skills:
  • Numeracy by performing data analyses using statistical tests, and calculations involved in chemistry.
  • Self-motivation by performing independent work on problem sets.
  • Practical laboratory skills for biochemistry.
  • Presentation skills and appropriate use of graphical techniques for data visualisation and chemical structure analysis.
  • Reporting skills in preparing data analysis reports and practical reports

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

  • Lectures deliver subject-specific knowledge.
  • Practical classes reinforce taught content and give students experience in handling common laboratory equipment.
  • Workshops (problem classes) 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.
  • Reports give experience in scientific writing and presentation of concepts and data.
  • Problem Exercises (Data Handling) demonstrate subject-specific skills in data handling and key skills in numeracy applied to biology and ecology.
  • Unseen tests (examinations) demonstrate achievement of the appropriate level of subject-specific knowledge, with an emphasis on understanding and communication (essay and problem-based questions) or recall of factual knowledge (multiple choice or short answer question tests).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 35 2 per week 1 hr 35
Practical Classes 2 2 in Term 1 4 hrs 8
Problem Classes 2 2 in Term 2 3 hrs 6
Preparation & Reading 151
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Departmental Test 1 2 hours 33% No
Departmental Test 2 2 hours 67% No

Formative Assessment:

Practical reports; work associated with problem classes.

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