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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BMSC1301 Introductory Academic, Experimental and Professional Skills

40 creditsClass Size: 250

Module manager: Dr Aaron Drovandi

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

A Level (or equivalent) in biology and/or chemistry


BMSC1210Biology of the Mind
BMSC1212Introduction to Pharmacology
BMSC1214Human Endocrinology
FOBS1125Introduction to Physiology
FOBS1135The Basis of Life

Module replaces

BMSC1103: Basic Laboratory and Scientific SkillsBMSC1213: Basic Laboratory and Scientific Skills 2

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will cover the introductory laboratory and scientific skills that are essential for proper design, execution and reporting of experimental work in biomedical sciences. Technical training will include use of common equipment such as micropipettes, spectrophotometers, light and fluorescence microscopes, equipment for electrophoresis of both nucleic acids and proteins, spirometry and other subject-specific techniques. A key aspect will be experimental design and choice of appropriate controls. To complement their technical training, students will also develop skills in using computer software to analyse data (including basic statistical methods for hypothesis testing and regression/correlation) and to present data graphically. Students will also work within a team to research a topic, developing skills in database searching and information retrieval, fostering professional team working skills. Training will also be provided in searching the scientific literature (including use of referencing software) and in citing the literature in scientific writing. Written communication skills will be developed by preparation of abstracts, experimental reports and essays. Oral communication skills we be fostered through preparation of a scientific poster. This integrated approach will equip students with a range of scientific and professional skills that will underpin their work in subsequent years.


The aim of this module is to integrate introductory training in experimental methods in the biomedical sciences with complementary academic and professional skills development. Students will gain hands-on experience of experimental techniques and approaches, and understand how to apply them to address specific scientific questions. A key aim of the module is to integrate technical training with development of complementary scientific and professional skills, including introductory data analysis and presentation, team working and communication, scientific writing and literature/database searching.

Learning outcomes
After completing the module, students will be able to:
1. Apply introductory research, academic and professional skills;
2. Design an experiment and understand the importance of appropriate controls;
3. Use correctly a variety of laboratory equipment to obtain reliable data;
4. Perform calculations of concentration and dilution to prepare solutions to a defined composition;
5. Apply appropriate mathematical skills: manipulate units and basic algebraic expressions;
6. Work effectively within a team and show team leadership where appropriate;
7. Select and apply appropriate statistical methods to analyse data and test hypotheses;
8. Use scientific computer software for data analysis and presentation;
9. Prepare a concise report in the form of a scientific paper or essay, to a defined format, with appropriate referencing of the scientific literature;
10. Search biological information databases and extract specific information in an appropriate format.

Skills outcomes
Opportunities to develop professional and personal skills will include:
- Teamworking, with leadership opportunities.
- Organisational and time-management skills.
- Oral presentation skills
- Problem solving and critical thinking skills.


The module will bring together three skills strands to foster development and provide a strong foundation for subsequent levels: technical, scientific and professional.
Examples of technical training include:
- Use of common biomedical lab equipment: micropipettes, top pan balances, spectrophotometers, light microscopes.
- Introduction to human anatomical visualisation.
- Electrophoresis of DNA and proteins.
- Recording the electrocardiogram in human subjects.
- Basic methods in neurobiology
- Bacteriology/pharmacology/physiology/neurobiology techniques, as appropriate to each programme of study.
To complement technical training, scientific skills developed will include:
- How to design an experiment with appropriate controls.
- Use of data analysis and graphical presentation software.
- Biological information database searching and information retrieval.
- Literature searching and use of referencing software.
- Use of software for analysis of microscopy images.
- How to choose and apply appropriate statistical tests.
- Scientific writing.
- Preparing scientific posters.
Alongside this, opportunities to develop professional and personal skills will include:
- Teamworking, with leadership opportunities.
- Organisational and time-management skills.
- Oral presentation skills
- Problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning41.004.00
Class tests, exams and assessment21.002.00
Independent online learning hours48.00
Private study hours264.00
Total Contact hours88.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

- Preparation for practical classes, consolidation after the class: 68 hr (4 hr each)
- Assessment: In-course MCQ paper and poster presentation: 2 hr (1 hr each)
- Preparation of the assessed poster: 10 hr
- Preparation of formative lab report elements (abstract, introduction, methods, results (preparing a figure), conclusion): 20 hr (4 hr each).
- Consolidation of lecture material: 54 hr (3 hr each)
- Revision for the in-course MCQ paper: 12 hr
- Tutorial preparation and consolidation: 44 hr
- IT session preparation and consolidation: 12 hr
- Formative on-line quizzes and worksheets: 20 hr
- Group project work: 48 hr (4 hr per week for S1)
- Preparation of assessed lab report: 20 hr

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Report writing: In Semester 1, students will receive formative feedback on individual elements of a laboratory report in advance of preparing their summatively assessed report in Semester 2. These will be submitted at approximately 2 week intervals across S1.

Semester 1 in-course MCQ paper (maths/chemistry calculations): students will have the opportunity to do an online formative MCQ paper in advance of the assessed paper, and to receive detailed feedback.

In Semester 2, students will do a formative MCQ paper on data handling and interpretation. This will provide a foundation for the data analysis elements of Level 2 and 3 ‘Skills’ modules.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
In-course AssessmentParticipation mark for attendance at workshops and completion of Pebble Pad worksheets20.00
Poster PresentationPoster presentation15.00
In-course MCQIn-course MCQ test (S1) in Minerva20.00
ReportIndividual Laboratory report30.00
ReportFormative Laboratory report0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The standard release time for an MCQ/MRQ in Minerva will be 24hrs. Further guidance on the assessment will be provided in the module handbook/Minerva.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 11/07/2022


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