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Unit information: MSc Core Skills in 2015/16

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Unit name MSc Core Skills
Unit code BIOCM0001
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Burston
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The Unit consists of practical classes, lecture-based teaching sessions, and tutorials that together prepare students for their MSc practical project and provide a foundation for their studies. Laboratory-based practical classes provide experience of laboratory skills and basic and advanced experimental techniques. Additional teaching sessions provide training in: various aspecs of laboratory safety, including the preparation of risk assessments; the use of IT, including Microsoft Word and Microsoft Powerpoint, literature searching, reference management, genome analysis and bioinformatics, and statistics; research methods, including the methods used to study gene regulation, cell imaging techniques, and the production and uses of antibodies. These sessions are reinforced by tutorials that review the taught material and provide an opportunity for the discussion of selected relevant research papers. This helps the students to understand the process of planning a piece of research. The tutors act as points of contact for the students throughout their period of study.


  • To provide experience in the acquisition and analysis of experimental data.
  • To provide training in a range of key research skills, including practical experience of basic and more advanced experimental techniques.
  • To provide experience in the use of computer skills including word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation packages.
  • To foster individual and team-working, demonstrating organisation, decision-making and time management.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the Unit the students should be able to:

  • work effectively within a research laboratory and demonstrate proficiency in basic laboratory skills, demonstrating organisation, decision-making and time management,
  • use a range of IT packages to acquire and analyse data,
  • demonstrate understanding of a variety of standard research methods and their applications.
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the process of planning a piece of research.

Teaching Information

Lectures, tutorials, and laboratory classes.

Assessment Information

Short answer examination (80%) and assessed course work (20%) that includes assessed essays.

Reading and References

Unit handbook and selected relevant research papers.