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Unit information: Science Update in 2015/16

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Unit name Science Update
Unit code EDUCM4002
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Shallcross
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is targeted at all practising science teachers and related education professionals. The unit will involve the study of leading edge areas of contemporary science, which will be outside their first degree course. The course would commence with a full day's programme involving introductory lecture, hands-on activities and instruction in access to research journals and secondary literature. A written overview of the update area will be provided with starting references. Teachers will then choose a particular topic within the update area on which to provide feedback. Their learning will be supported through further targeted teaching sessions at the University. The feedback will be in one of three forms with the aim of raising awareness of contemporary science in a range of areas across the group; development of web-site or other e-learning medium, presentation to an audience of their peers or written responses to assessment task. Some examples of subject update areas may include nanochemistry, medical imaging methods, biotechnology, medical materials science, astrophysics, drug design and novel sensors.


  • To introduce students to new areas of specialism within science.
  • To provide practical laboratory experience where appropriate.
  • To facilitate access of primary literature within science and promote further updating.
  • To create a teaching resource for the wider community.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Within the context of the chosen topic area students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of recent developments in their chosen area of science
  • Demonstrate knowledge of current research methods and their possible implementation.
  • Demonstrate competence in a selected range of current practical techniques.
  • Use primary literature to inform their own work.
  • Generate teaching resources to be made available through the Science Learning Centre South West.

Teaching Information

The teaching strategy will employ three broad approaches, where appropriate, with the aims of contextualising as well as theorising issues of central importance, the development of student autonomy, and the individualisation of study and support. These are:

Face to Face Teaching Examples here include large and small group teaching methods, including presentations from staff and experienced professionals, debates, case study analyses, student presentations and practical workshops.

ELearning ELearning approaches will be used to facilitate individualised study and support within the broad parameters of the units and programme. These will include: on-line discussion (with individuals and groups, online supervision and peer mentoring, guidance and feedback. Critical use of Web resources will be encouraged.

Research Small-scale laboratory based studies will be supported.

Assessment Information

One of three methods of assessment can be chosen;

  1. Production of a web-site or other e-learning/teaching resource, providing information on the agreed chosen topic.
  2. Presentation, with accompanying report, of up to 30 minutes to an audience of their peers on an agreed chosen topic.
  3. Written responses to assessment task issued at the outset of the unit.

In each case the result will total 4,000 words or equivalent and include a literature review and bibliography.

Reading and References

This will depend on the area of the subject update. Students will be coming from biological, chemical and physical science backgrounds each with their own literature. They will be introduced to recent, relevant texts which may include:

  • Hollas, M.J. (2004) Modern spectroscopy. Chichester: Wiley
  • Annett, J.F. (2004) Superconductivity, superfluids, and condensates. Oxford : Oxford University Press
  • Watson, J.D. (2004) Molecular biology of the gene 5th ed. San Francisco: Pearson

Key journals will include:

Science Nature Journal of the American Chemical Society