Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module BIOL4080C: Research Project

Department: Biosciences

BIOL4080C: Research Project

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 100 Availability Not available in 2020/21
Tied to C2K009


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students hands-on laboratory experience.
  • To teach confidence in equipment handling and configuration skills of basic laboratory instruments.
  • To develop and sustain interest in Plant Biotechnology research.
  • To develop skills in design of experiments and project planning.
  • To develop the abilities to undergo long in-depth experiments.
  • To exposure to experimental research methods, time and project management.
  • To provide students a framework to develop their own hypothesis and investigate them via experimental research


  • Carry out a 6-month research project that aligns with student interest in Plant Biotechnology
  • Participation in a research team
  • Training in basic laboratory experimental equipment and techniques
  • Training in project-specific experimental equipment and techniques
  • Direct interaction with active-research supervisor
  • Data analysis and presentation in periodic lab-meetings
  • Attendance to research team group presentations and discussions

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Deep understanding of the research techniques used in a plant biotechnology laboratory.
  • Understand fundamental molecular biology and physiological principles.
  • Use of relevant molecular biology approaches. E.g. CRISPr technology for the edition of plant genomes.
  • Understand the strategies used for the investigation in Plant biotechnology.
  • In depth knowledge of scientific literature in the area of Plant biotechnology
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to undergo molecular biology approaches (DNA RNA Protein)
  • Ability to design plant biotechnology experiments
  • Ability to analyse and generate conclusions based on the results obtained in an investigation.
  • Develop technical reporting skills, mainly through “lab-book” and lab meetings
  • Integrate information from plant biotechnology specific literature
Key Skills:
  • Develop experimental design skills, project planning and independence in the laboratory environment
  • Develop communication skills with a supervisor
  • Develop Problem solving skills
  • Develop Group working skills. Communication, address questions to peers and collegues.
  • Hypothesis building
  • Time management skills
  • Budget management skills
  • Integration of information

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

  • The module comprises a 6-month experimental research investigation carried out under the direct supervision of a research-active Durham academic responsible for student’s mentorship and training.
  • The student is expected to actively participate in the laboratory environment (lab meetings, journal clubs, etc.) and to undertake his/her project-specific research activities in a daily basis and in coordination with the research supervisor.
  • The student should report the progress of the research in a lab-book and should generate a financial report indicating expenditures. Research progress and laboratory experience will be communicated every two months to the Plant Biotechnology research committee which will provide feedback to student and supervisor. By doing this, the department safeguards student supervision and delivery of research objectives.
  • To assess the student’s learning and skills, the student will submit a written thesis with the following sections: Introduction to research topic, Objectives, Material and Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, Bibliography. The student will describe in a 15min oral presentation, his/her research results in the MSc Plant Biotechnology and Enterprise conference.
  • Lab-book, financial report, written thesis, oral presentation and supervisor feedback will be the components used for the evaluation of the student’s performance on this module

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Research Project Daily 8 hours 1000
Total 1000

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Thesis 20,000 words 60%
Oral presentation 15 minutes 10%
Lab Notebook and Financial Report 10%
Supervisor performance report 20%

Formative Assessment:

Formative verbal feedback on written report and presentation by supervisor

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