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Unit information: Science and Society in 2021/22

Unit name Science and Society
Unit code BIOCM0016
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Curnow
Open unit status Not open

Advanced Cell Biology BIOC30601 The Dynamic Proteome BIOC30604 Cellular Information BIOC30602 Advanced Options in Biochemistry BIOC30600, Research and Communication Skills BIOC30001, Research Training BIOC30002


All Year 4 units within the MSci

School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

Lead Contact: Dr Paul Curnow

This unit will provide students with an understanding of how science in general, and biochemistry in particular, affects the society we live in. The funding and regulatory framework within which research in the UK and abroad takes place will be explored and the importance of effective communication with a range of stakeholders including experts and the general public will be discussed. The ethical conduct of scientists and the sustainability of research will also be examined.

Students will:

  • Appreciate the impact of biochemistry on society in the UK and abroad
  • Gain an understanding of how biochemical research is supported by public and private funding
  • Understand the relevance of biochemistry to UK industry, and the importance of impact and science policy.
  • Debate topical ethical and sustainability issues in biochemistry.
  • Gain skills that will enable them to communicate science to a broad variety of audiences

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Research a topic using the primary scientific literature
  • Review and critique the scientific data and literature and appraise competing theories
  • Achieve an in-depth knowledge and understanding of their research topic and an ability to keep abreast with recent developments in the field.
  • Work independently on their research project and manage their time
  • Analyse and interpret biochemical data
  • Solve unseen problems
  • Write a scientific report for an expert audience

Teaching Information

Literature comprehension workshops

Synchronous student-led discussion sessions

Asynchronous lectures

Assessment Information

For learning (formative)

  • Student-led debates and discussions covering ethical issues and/or the contribution biochemists or research methods have made to society

Of learning

  • Four written pieces of work covering (i) Public Engagement, (ii) Policy (iii), Research Impact, and (iv) a Technical Summary


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. BIOCM0016).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.