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Unit information: Science and Success: Writing, Speaking and Communicating Science 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 Science and Success: Writing, Speaking and Communicating Science
Unit code BIOL20017
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Dr. Whitney
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will teach a range of transferable skills, including scientific writing and presentation skills, along with job application and interview skills. The unit has the short-term aim of preparing you for writing up and presenting your field course report/laboratory workshop report, and your year 3 and year 4 research and literature projects, and the long-term aim of preparing you for job hunting and life after graduation. Writing clearly is a key skill in many careers and while it is relatively easy to recognise good writing, it is rather harder to write well yourself. Similarly, a good spoken presentation is obvious, but it is harder to characterise the factors that make it so good.

During this course you will learn both of these skills and use them to write short reports and give a presentation. Success in science, and elsewhere, is obviously dependent on finding a job in which to succeed. You will apply for real jobs, short-list your peers' applications, and then interview others and be interviewed by peers in realistic role play. All parts of the course will be taught within a biological context. The unit culminates in you writing your Personal Development Plan (PDP). This teaches you the ability to review, plan and take responsibility for your own learning.

Aims: Preparing students for life after graduation through the acquisition of key transferable skills;

  • Use collaborative and activity-based teaching approaches to maximise learning
  • Improve written communication skills through (1) lectures, (2) assessed work, and (3) peer-to-peer feedback
  • Improve oral communication skills through (1) oral presentations and (2) a job interview
  • Improve team-work skills through peer collaboration and peer assessment in (1) presentation assessments, (2) mock job short-listing panels and (3) mock interview panels
  • Improve job hunting skills through (1) applying for a real job advert with CV and covering letter, (2) being interviewed for the job, (3) short-listing peer applications in a panel, and (4) interviewing peers

All parts of the course will be taught within a biological context. PDPs and CV writing are introduced at level 1; Science and Success will build on and strengthen this existing provision.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to;

1. Write a scientific paper, citing published papers

2. Give clear oral presentations

3. Understand and be able to use key interview skills

4. Produce an evidence-based Personal Development Plan (PDP)

Teaching Information

  • Limited number of lectures from invited specialists
  • Scientific writing: lectures, demonstrator assessment and marking
  • Presentations: individual flash presentations to peer panel, peer feedback and assessment, demonstrator feedback and marking

Assessment Information

The peer feedback, assessment and marking, as well as formal marking by academic-trained demonstrators are all assessed. The Personal Development Plan (PDP) is not assessed, but it is an essential piece of work that students will be required to complete.

Written and oral communication skills are tested using role play in which students apply for a job and take part in mock interviews.

Each student will use their course feedback to write a Personal Development Plan (PDP).

Exclusively continuous assessment in this unit (i.e. no exam).

Weightings: 40% scientific writing, 30% oral presentation, 30% job applications.

Reading and References

  • Gemayel, R. (2016) How to write a scientific paper, The FEBS Journal, 283: 3882-3885.
  • Matthews, J.R, Bowen, J.M. & Matthews, R.W. 3rd edition 2007. Successful Scientific Writing. Cambridge University Press.