We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Faculty Handbook Archive

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2021/22 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, 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.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • Research Project BIOL3571, Biological Enterprise BIOL3441, Research Proposal BIOL3631, Public Engagement in Biosciences (BIOL3661).


  • To expose students to a range of topics in contemporary research across biological sciences.
  • To develop skills in analysis of problems in contemporary areas of biological 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 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 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 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 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.

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:

Formative exercises will be provided to develop the skills for each summative. Guidance for the preparation of the formative work will be provided in lectures and will also assist in the preparation of summative work.

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