Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module BIOL40515: Technology in the Biosciences

Department: Biosciences

BIOL40515: Technology in the Biosciences

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2020/21
Tied to C2K009


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an overview of recent technological developments and their application to the Biosciences.
  • To develop an understanding of the theoretical aspects and practical skills underpinning technological advances in the Biosciences.
  • To provide an overall appreciation of the strategies and technologies employed in the Biosciences and their translation to support plant science, plant biotechnology and agriculture.


  • Seminars on current advances in the Biosciences including cell transformation, gene cloning, gene expression systems, genetic modification and bioimaging.
  • Laboratory workshops linked to the seminar topics to provide practical experience in these molecular technologies

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understanding of how new technologies are being applied in basic research.
  • An understanding of a range of lab-based techniques including advanced microscopy and key molecular biology skills.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to carry out key molecular biology technical skills.
  • To work effectively in a group to plan and design experiments.
  • To accurately record experimental data, draw conclusions and present results in both lab book and poster format.
  • To be able to integrate information from different sources (seminars, scientific literature, lab experiments) to understand the application of technology in the Biosciences.
  • To evaluate and discuss technological advances and their application in the Biosciences.
Key Skills:
  • Literacy, in being able to consult and extract information from printed and on-line materials.
  • Critical thinking relevant to technology in the biosciences (e.g. assessment of primary literature).
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning.
  • Time management and planning.
  • Teamwork

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

  • Weekly lectures over Michaelmas term will be delivered. Students will attend four workshops and four research seminars with a focus in agriculture and biotechnology and participate in a discussion forum with the speaker. Four workshops will be organized where students will perform group activities in a dynamic format. Four mentor led group surgeries are planned, student self-organized group activities in coordination with mentor interactions.
  • Seminars and associated lab-based workshops deliver subject-specific knowledge and support the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Lab-based practical sessions deliver subject-specific practical skills.
  • Self-guided learning contributes to subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation.
  • To assess the student understanding of the theoretical and technical aspects of the technologies and their application, the students will submit a completed lab book. a poster explaining the theory, practice and applications of a technique of their choosing. In addition lab performance will be assessed.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars / Workshops 5 Weekly 2 hours 10
Lab Practicals 5 3 days per week 7 hours per day 105
Mentor / group feedback surgeries 5 Weekly 1 hour 5
Preparation and reading 30
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Lab Book [Comprehensive coverage of lab methods and results. Handwritten, with illustrations and photos (as appropriate)] Maximum 50 A4 pages 40%
Lab Performance [Attendance, punctuality, teamwork, experimental planning and recording will be assessed.] 20%
Poster [A3 online poster to communicate visually a chosen technology; the methodology and applications.] 40%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback on a draft poster plan Formative verbal feedback on lab performance Formative verbal feedback on lab book 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