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Unit information: Field Course or Laboratory Workshop in 2015/16

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Unit name Field Course or Laboratory Workshop
Unit code BIOL30001
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Andy Radford
Open unit status Not open

Biology, Zoology or Geology/Biology honours programmes.



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

Description including Unit Aims

A period of practical work lasting 5 days, or the equivalent thereof, during which students have no other learning commitments. Topics within field courses and laboratory workshops range from molecular biology to community ecology. Each course or workshop focuses on a specific sub-discipline within the spectrum of the biological sciences.

A central aspect of each field course and laboratory workshop is that students develop practical skills while exploring a scientific hypothesis or concept. They do this through development of a short project in a small group of maximum 3 students. The practical aspects of the project are completed during the field course and laboratory workshop, and there is a verbal presentation of this research towards to the end of the field course and laboratory workshop. Each student then works independently to produce a scientific report based on his or her project work.

Each report will be in the form of a scientific paper or a detailed conference presentation. Each report will include an 'Introduction' section which gives a reasoned overview of the subject area including a careful statement of the hypothesis or concept. There will be a detailed ‘Methods’ section describing the practical work undertaken, and a ‘Results’ section describing the results obtained and including statistical analyses where appropriate. A 'Discussion’ section will place particular findings in a broader context. The Unit will serve as important training for Level 3 Practical Projects reports, and students will benefit from feedback on their scientific reports.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students completing this unit will learn new subject-specific practical skills. Students will learn to undertake practical laboratory or field research in a well-organised and productive fashion, both as members of the class as a whole and in a small group. Students will learn to present a well-illustrated research talk in which they clearly and succinctly describe the research they have undertaken. Students will learn to report scientific data based on their own research.

Teaching Information

A period of concentrated work lasting 5 days, or the equivalent thereof, during which students have no other learning commitments. Practical work in small classes and in project groups of 2 or 3. Students will be closely supervised by academic staff with specific expertise in the particular field course topic or focus of the laboratory workshop, and will receive detailed advice on how to report their findings. The exact nature of how the scientific report is presented will depend on the field course or laboratory workshop (e.g. different target journals or target audiences), but training specific to the particular report will be provided. This training will complement the generic training in presenting scientific data provided during the mandatory Level 2 unit Science and Success.

Assessment Information

Students will be expected to complete a field course or laboratory workshop. Marks will awarded in two categories: Continuous assessment and Scientific Report. Specific marking criteria are available for both.

Continuous assessment marks (40% of total) will represent: (a) contribution to the work of the class as a whole, (b) role in discussions, (c) teamwork assessed in terms of active engagement and a positive approach to encouraging others, (d) role as a member of a small group (of 2 or 3) as indicated by their own contribution to their research project, (e) demonstration of knowledge and proficiency in subject matter.

Scientific Report marks (60% of total) will represent: (a) the student’s understanding of topic, (b) ability to analyse and present results logically, and (c) their ability to evaluate the results and discuss their meaning. Marks will take into account (d) evidence for originality, and (e) clarity of presentation.

Reading and References

Peer reviewed research papers, review articles and text books relevant to the student's individual topic.