CMB1005 : Practical Skills in Biomedical & Biomolecular Sciences 1

Semester 1 Credit Value: 15
ECTS Credits: 8.0


This module introduces students to practical skills essential to students studying biomolecular and biomedical sciences. It also helps students to develop a number of important generic skills, including numeracy skills, information literacy and writing skills and essential study skills.
The module is divided into four strands: Generic Skills (Strand A), Biochemistry practical skills (Strand B), Cell biology practical skills (Strand C) and Genetics practical skills (Strand D). Each of the practical skills strands links closely with the complementary modules, Biochemistry (BGM1002), Cell Biology (CMB1004) and Genetics (BGM1004), which are co-requisites for this module.

The generic skills strand provides an opportunity for students to get early feedback on their numeracy skills followed by optional development workshops for further numeracy support. This strand also includes a study skills lecture, introducing students to study techniques essential to university life, an open-book essay to further develop writing skills and good academic practice and basic data analysis.

In the Biochemistry practical skills strand students learn how to measure protein concentration by spectrophotometry, how to purify proteins using ion exchange chromatography, how to measure the rate of an enzyme reaction and how to analyse DNA sequence data.

In the Cell Biology practical skills strand students use light microscopes to observe cells, carry out experiments to study the process of osmosis and explore the mechanisms of nervous impulses and muscle contraction.

In the Genetics practical skills strand students learn how to use the E. coli bacterium to clone DNA and how to use the polymerase chain reaction to analyse the genetic make-up of the nematode worm, C elegans. They also use computer aided learning to study genetic linkage in the fruit fly Drosophila.
All three practical skills strands will highlight the importance of laboratory health and safety.

Outline Of Syllabus

The Generic skills strand consists of: basic biology knowledge assessment; introductory maths skills assessment & support seminars; study skills seminars; lectures on good academic practice & essay writing; open book essay assignment; information retrieval exercise and basic data analysis.
The Biochemistry practical skills strand consists of laboratory-based practicals on the following topics: spectroscopy; ion exchange chromatography; enzyme kinetics; DNA sequencing and genetic control.
The Cell Biology practical skills strand consists of laboratory-based practicals on the following topics:
microscopic observation of unicelular eukaryotes; osmosis, pH and buffers, action potentials and muscle function.
The Genetics practical skills strand consists of laboratory-based practicals on the following topics: genetic transformation of E. coli; genotype analysis of C. elegans; gene linkage in Drosophila.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion31:003:00Bio test, Maths test, practical skills test, practical pre-work & post-practical test
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture71:007:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical103:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1107:00107:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

1. Lectures will provide an introduction to the module and provide information about referencing, essay structure, good academic practice, numeracy and study skills.

2. Seminars will provide students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and practical experience of information retrieval, numeracy skills and peer learning.

3. Practicals will provide experience of laboratory work; information presented in practicals will include knowledge and understanding of the underlying principles of essential practical techniques and laboratory health and safety. Students will gain hands-on experience of a range of practical techniques and safe laboratory practice. Practical classes will allow students to develop skills in recording and analysing biological data, carrying out scientific calculations and using computers. Practicals also provide an opportunity for students to ask questions and exchange ideas with peers, demonstrators and academic staff in a relatively informal setting. Skills practiced include critical thinking, data synthesis, numeracy & use of computer application.

4. Class tests (formative) are used to assess students' numeracy skills and basic biology knowledge. This provides students with early feedback on their skills in these areas and there is opportunity to attend seminars for further support.

5. Private study is used for self-directed learning and includes: reading lecture notes and texts; preparation for seminars and practicals; using learning resources on the Web. Skills practiced include critical thinking, active learning, goal setting and planning, information literacy and independence.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M25Cell Biology Practical Strand: In-course written worksheets and online assessment.
Practical/lab report1M25Genetics Practical Strand: In-course written worksheets and online assessment.
Practical/lab report1M25Biochemistry Practical Strand: In-course written worksheets and online assessment.
Prof skill assessmnt1M25In course extended essay 15% Peer learning exercise (MCQ writing, Wiki)-5% Online info retrieval exercise, short answer question-5%
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmntMSkills assessment
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment1MOnline Maths test
Computer assessment1MOnline Biology test
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students must pass each strand with a minimum mark of 40% in order to pass the module. This system is in place to ensure students who pass the module have achieved all learning outcomes. Failure in any of the four strands will result in a capped module mark of 35% only retrievable to a 40% pass on completion of any reassessment considered necessary to meet the learning outcomes

1. Practical worksheets and online assessments will test the students' knowledge and understanding of practical techniques, ability to record and analyse biological data, ability to carry out scientific calculations and ability to use computer applications.

2. The Online information retrieval exercise will assess students' ability to find scientific information via the library catalogue, in text books and on the internet. This exercise will provide early feedback to the students on their information retrieval abilities.

3. The open book extended Essay will assess the students' writing skills, information literacy skills and ability to write a well structured and correctly referenced essay on a scientific topic.

4. The peer learning exercise will assess the students' ability to communicate scientific information to peers.

5. The practical skills assessment will assess students' ability to perform basic laboratory techniques.

6. The formative maths and biology tests will allow students to determine their own level of ability in these areas and to practice numeracy and biology skills.

Reading Lists