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Unit information: SWBio DTP: Core skills for Life Scientists in 2015/16

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Unit name SWBio DTP: Core skills for Life Scientists
Unit code BIOCM0012
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Barker
Open unit status Not open



SWBio DTP: Statistics and Bioinformatics, SWBio DTP: Science in Society, Business and Industry, SWBio DTP: Research Project 1, SWBio DTP: Research Project 2

School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit aims to develop the core skills needed to be an effective research scientist, many of which are also directly applicable to the wider business community and hence to the employability of such students. This will cover many of the aspects highlighted within the research development statement by Vitae.

For knowledge and intellectual ability, this will include aspects such as information seeking and information management, academic literacy and the academic language.

For personal effectiveness this will include development of self-management including critical self-reflection and accessing appropriate training based on such analysis.

Managerial skills will also cover project management and managing the student:supervisor relationship.

Research governance will include how science is funded, the concept of peer review, plus research ethics. It will also include an exercise in grant writing and the assessment mechanisms for such research grants, including how to present one's opinion and listening and evaluating the opinions of others through peer review and group discussion.

Engagement and Influence will cover communication of science in various formats such as posters, talks, papers, both to specialist scientific audiences, and to more general audiences.

Intended Learning Outcomes

To be able to:

  • Undertake research and access information including a critical assessment of information quality.
  • Appreciate the scientific language and how this differs from other styles used to communicate to different audiences.
  • Gain familiarity with the various tools available to assist in personal development (e.g. Vitae), and critically assess their strengths and weaknesses and to take timely action to develop skills as a professional researcher.
  • Describe the personal qualities needed to be an effective researcher such as enthusiasm, perseverance, integrity etc.
  • Appreciate how to best manage research time to achieve suitable prioritization of commitments including work-life balance.
  • Gain an understanding of the professional conduct expected in science in relation to aspects such as health and safety, ethics and integrity in recording and communicating findings.
  • Understand how science is managed and funded and a critical appreciation of the role of peer review in this process.
  • Appreciate that science is communicated to a number of different audiences, and in different ways and know how to deliver this in an effective manner.

Teaching Information

Minimum of 15hrs contact time on core staff/student development training sessions for activities such as IT, databases and individualised training.

8 full days of seminars and workshops at various sites across the partnership

Student Input

Approximately 200hrs of student time:

15hrs of local training, with an additional 30hrs of reflection/reinforcement

Each workshop/seminar will require 3hrs of preparation time beforehand, and 6hrs reflection/reinforcement time afterwards.

35hrs preparation of assessments

Assessment Information

The following assessments will cover the intended learning outcomes and will particularly demonstrate the student’s ability to communicate science to different audiences and in different ways (visual, oral and written).

Research Poster: 25% (75% on the visual assessment of the poster, 25% on Oral presentation of the poster)

Poster and its presentation will be marked by members of the Implementation Group.

Mock research-grant application in BBSRC format relating to the PhD subject area: 50% (40% Peer-based marking on the quality of the application, 40% on the quality of peer review of applications, 20% for mock grant panel)

Presentation on PhD project in the style of Vitae three minute thesis competition: 25%

Presentation will be marked by members of the Implementation Group.

Students will receive feedback on each activity before completing the next item of assessment and so will be able to gauge their academic performance throughout the unit.

Reading and References