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Unit information: Science and Success: Writing, Speaking and Communicating Science in 2021/22

Unit name Science and Success: Writing, Speaking and Communicating Science
Unit code BIOL20017
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Dr. Amici-Dargan
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will teach a range of transferable skills, including scientific writing and presentation skills, along with job application and interview skills. The unit has the short-term aim of preparing you for writing up and presenting your field course report/laboratory workshop report, and your year 3 and year 4 research and literature projects, and the long-term aim of preparing you for job hunting and life after graduation. Writing clearly is a key skill in many careers and while it is relatively easy to recognise good writing, it is rather harder to write well yourself. Similarly, a good spoken presentation is obvious, but it is harder to characterise the factors that make it so good.

During this course you will learn both of these skills and use them to write short reports and give a presentation. Success in science, and elsewhere, is obviously dependent on finding a job in which to succeed. You will apply for real jobs, short-list your peers' applications, and then interview others and be interviewed by peers in realistic role play. All parts of the course will be taught within a biological context.

Aims: Preparing students for life after graduation through the acquisition of key transferable skills;

  • Use collaborative and activity-based teaching approaches to maximise learning
  • Improve written communication skills through (1) lectures, (2) assessed work, and (3) peer-to-peer feedback
  • Improve oral communication skills through (1) oral presentations and (2) a job interview
  • Improve team-work skills through peer collaboration and peer assessment in (1) presentation assessments, (2) mock job short-listing panels and (3) mock interview panels
  • Improve job hunting skills through (1) applying for a real job advert with CV and covering letter, (2) being interviewed for the job, (3) short-listing peer applications in a panel, and (4) interviewing peers
  • All parts of the course will be taught within a biological context. PDPs and CV writing are introduced at Year 1; Science and Success will build on and strengthen this existing provision.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to;

1. Write a scientific paper, citing published papers

2. Give clear oral presentations

3. Demonstrate key skills associated with job applications

Teaching Information

  • Limited number of lectures from invited specialists
  • Scientific writing: lectures, demonstrator assessment and marking
  • Presentations: individual flash presentations to peer panel, peer feedback and assessment, demonstrator feedback and marking

Assessment Information

The peer feedback, assessment and marking, as well as formal marking by academic-trained demonstrators are all assessed.

Written and oral communication skills are tested using role play in which students apply for a job and take part in mock interviews.

Exclusively continuous assessment in this unit (i.e. no exam).

Weightings: 100% scientific writing Literature Review report. Oral presentation and job applications are mandatory but formative (i.e. students must complete them to meet all of the unit intended learning outcomes).


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. BIOL20017).

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.