Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 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 Sciences, selected from the following list: Advanced Topics in Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour 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 BIOL3591, Advanced Cell Biology BIOL3481, Biology of Disease BIOL3621, Genomics BIOL3651, Fieldcourse BIOL3161.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To carry out a study of research in a topic associated with biological sciences using the full resources of the scientific literature.
  • To present the results of the study in the form of a critical review article.


  • Self-directed study.
  • Workshops and tutorials in data gathering techniques and literature databases, and presentation techniques.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • In depth knowledge and understanding of a selected topic in biological sciences.
  • Knowledge of communication of scientific information in written form.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to access and evaluate information relevant to biological sciences from a variety of sources, and 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 able to present the results of literature-based research in a form accessible to an audience of peers.
Key Skills:
  • Literacy, in being able to consult and extract information from printed and on-line archives.
  • Communication skills, in presenting report.
  • IT skills, in use of online data bases.
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning, independent work on report.

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

  • Literature review: a comprehensive review of scientific literature on a specific topic, agreed between student and supervisor. The student uses the resources of information databases to produce a critical account of the topic, with an emphasis on current research, and the context in which it is taking place. Assessment is based on the review itself; and formative assessment prior to writing the review.
  • Workshops and tutorials; large and small group teaching on background generic topics for literature review.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials and Workshops 8 1 hour 8
Preparation & Reading 192
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Literature Review 100% No

Formative Assessment:

Poster summarising themes of literature review as a preparation for writing full review.

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