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Unit information: SWBio DTP: Core skills for Life Scientists in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

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: Rotation Project 1, followed by SWBio DTP: Rotation 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, skills which are also directly applicable to the wider business community and hence to wider employability. The unit 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 analyses.

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 application writing and the assessment mechanisms for such research grant applications, 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

A combination of whole cohort seminars, workshops, lectures, interactive discussions and practical exercises coupled with individualised training.

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).

There will be the following assessments: (1) to demonstrate an understanding of researching, accessing, critically assessing, presenting and communicating information by preparing and presenting a research poster (25%); (2) to demonstrate an understanding of undertaking research, how science is funded and the professional aspects of science by writing and presenting a research grant application in a BBSRC format relating to the PhD subject area (50%) (of which 50% is for a written research grant application and 50% for presenting research grant applications at a mock grant panel), and (3) to demonstrate an understanding of the tools available to assist in personal development by doing a Vitae-style, three minute presentation on the PhD project (25%).

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