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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY1327 Practical Skills for Zoology and Ecology

20 creditsClass Size: 96

Module manager: Prof. Jurgen Denecke

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

Year running 2024/25

Pre-requisite qualifications

Biology A level or equivalent

Module replaces

BLGY1238 and half of BLGY1325

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module introduces and develops core practical research and scientific skills that students will use throughout their degree program.A series of lectures will first lead to a theoretical familiarisation with a broad range of standard laboratory practices including routine calculations, analytical methods to quantify biochemical processes and study bio-molecular and genetic interactions in vivo and in vitro. This also includes concepts of evolution, physiology, and morphology. Students will acquire an understanding of scientific experimentation design and process, to the extent that they appreciate the value of suitable controls and critical thinking. Practicals introduce manual skills and safe working practises in laboratory and field environments, trouble-shooting, the importance of independent replicates and maintenance of accurate records of findings. Practicals will address processes at the molecular, cellular, whole organism and population level within the broader remit of biology and whole organism studies in the laboratory and in the field.


This module introduces core skills for biology and whole organism studies in the laboratory and field. Teaching will be practical-based and supported by introductory lectures that provide the concepts and preparatory material. The major objectives include an understanding of routine laboratory and field techniques and experience of a range of analytical methods to monitor biochemical reactions in a quantitative or qualitative manner. Students will be provided training in microscopy and the observation of single cells and tissues as well as subcellular structures.

Techniques for research on whole organisms and populations will be covered. Core concepts include an understanding of scientific principles such as the difference between experimental science and pure observation, data recording, the difference between accuracy and precision as well as distinguishing technical replicates from biological replicates. These will be covered in the context of the laboratory experiments.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a conceptual understanding, practical experience and competency of laboratory techniques for biochemistry, molecular biology, cellular biology, and genetics, and both laboratory and field techniques for whole organism and population studies.
2. Calculate percentages, proportionalities, molarity, concentration and dilution factors, and work with solutions in the laboratory
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental biology underpinning the practicals
4. Analysis, critical interpretation and presentation of results from practical work.

Skills outcomes
- Good Laboratory Practice and adherence to health & safety guidelines
- Core molecular biology techniques and skills working with tissues and whole organisms
- Safe working practices with microorganisms
- Planning and conducting laboratory and field research
- Identify good experimental design principles and the concept of the current working model
- Appreciate the importance of detailed and accurate laboratory records and labelling


This module will provide core practical skills to support the study of molecular, cellular and whole organism biology in the laboratory and field. This will include an introduction to good laboratory practice, including working with solutions, record keeping, and health and safety considerations. Core skills training and experience will be provided for essential techniques including microscopy, histology and biochemistry, which will include protein purification, assaying enzyme activity and immunodetection based analysis (ELISA). Epidemiological studies will be introduced. There will be practicals working with flowers and insects, and practicals covering:
- Digestive physiology and environmental impact of livestock farming;
- Microbial fermentation and fractional distillation;
- Arthropod diversity and molecular genotyping;
- Plant identification and invertebrate diversity.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours142.00
Total Contact hours58.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative in-course assessments will be held in weeks 5 and 9 in semester 1. Specific feedback will be provided on-line for each assessment to highlight class weaknesses and strengths. Feedback is provided by staff and demonstrators during the practicals. Feedback for the MCQ-assessed practicals is provided online. The practical report is annotated and returned to students.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
In-course AssessmentSemester 1 practical laboratory exam including structured report25.00
In-course AssessmentSemester 2 Lab report (maximum 1500 words)25.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:11:53


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