Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • • Satisfactory completion of at least three Level 2 modules in Biological Sciences.


  • • At least two other level 3 modules in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, selected from the following list: Behavioural Ecology BIOL3561, Conservation Biology BIOL3551, Ecology in the Anthropocene BIOL3541, Advanced Topics in Development BIOL3521, Stress and Responses to the Environment BIOL3491, Crops for the Future BIOL3611, Biochemistry and Biotechnology BIOL3601, Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering BIOL3531, Ageing and Age-Related Diseases BIOL3591, Advanced Cell Biology BIOL3481, Biology of Disease BIOL3621.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • Research Project BIOL3571, Biological Enterprise BIOL3441, Biology into Schools BIOL3431, Research Proposal BIOL3631.


  • To expose students to a range of topics in contemporary research across biological and biomedical sciences.
  • To develop skills in analysis of problems in contemporary areas of biological and biomedical sciences, including drawing conclusions and making recommendations on how to best to tackle these problems.
  • To communicate findings and conclusions through various media.


  • Introduction to the task; workshops in identifying the problem, and acquiring relevant information.
  • Workshops in topics related to analysing the problem and making recommendations for possible solutions.
  • Workshops in presentational skills for oral presentations, posters and consultancy reports. >

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Appreciation of some of the major biological problems facing the world today.
  • Understanding the major factors contributing to a particular biological issue.
  • Understanding of research in selected areas of biological and biomedical sciences to the limits of current knowledge.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Interpretative skills at high level for results of research, in the form of planning and execution of an analysis of a complex problem.
  • Knowledge how to plan, run and produce a consultancy report on a topic in biological and biomedical sciences.
  • Research skills in scientific literature relevant to biological and biomedical sciences.
Key Skills:
  • Communication skills, through oral presentation, poster and report.
  • Self-motivation, in independent work on assignments.
  • Literacy, in being able to consult and extract information from printed and on-line archives.
  • Team work skills, in working as part of a small group to analyse a specific problem in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and in learning how to organise work as a member of a team.

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

  • Group Working: Students will work in small groups (up to 6 students), each of which tackles a different issue in contemporary bioscience; each group will act as a committee (with full record-keeping), with a designated Chair and Secretary. These roles will rotated, so that each student acts as either Chair or Secretary at least once.
  • Workshops: Students will attend workshops in which the basic methodology for identifying and analysing issues in Biological and Biomedical Sciences is taught, along with methods for communicating results and conclusions in different media.
  • Tutorials: Student will attend tutorials with individual supervisors in which specific problems in contemporary biosciences are introduced and discussed.
  • Assessment: Students will be required to produce three items for assessment: an oral presentation on an aspect of the problem their group has analysed; a poster on a specific aspect of the problem analysed by the group; and a concluding consultancy report, drawn up individually, in which the problem is analysed, conclusions are drawn and solutions suggested and justified. In addition, group working will be assessed by members of the group rating each others' contributions.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 9 1-2 hours 12
Tutorials on individual topics 4 1 hour 4
Preparation & Reading 184
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral presentation 20% No
Poster 20% No
Report 60% No

Formative Assessment:

Minutes from group meetings; practice oral presentation.

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