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MMB8101 : Research Skills and Principles for the Biosciences

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jérémie Nsengimana
  • Co-Module Leader: Mx Jan Deckers, Dr Sam Dainty, Miss Jane Shearer, Dr Nan Lin
  • Lecturer: Dr Jingky Lozano-Kuehne, Dr Christopher Morris
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aim of the module is to equip students with a framework for research project planning, recording, experimental design, and data management and interpretation to be applied as they progress to individual, specific research projects and academic or industrial research careers in the biosciences. The module is also aimed to contribute to the personal development of students as independent researchers through exposure to and engagement in mechanisms for research dissemination and discussion. The module has been designed to acquaint students with some key principles underlying good practice in biosciences research and to prepare students for critical reflection and ethical decision-making in relation to research in this area.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module introduces and explores the basic principles of good practice in relation to experimental design, statistical analysis and ethics that underlie all aspects of research in the biosciences and develops critical reflection on the application of these principles in specific research contexts.

Students will be introduced to the importance of biostatistics for quantitative research and the value of appropriate experimental design and analysis. They will develop and apply skills in these areas interactively. The specific topics covered will include: populations and samples; mean, SD and normal distributions; standard error and estimation; confidence intervals; t-tests; simple linear regression; correlation; residual plots; qualitative data; chi-square and Fisher's exact test; odds ratios and logistic regression; interaction; agreement analysis (kappa index and Bland-Altman plots), general issues and principles of experimental design; randomization; replication and sample size in planning studies; identification of units of experiment.

Students will receive instruction on recording original research and on data management and analysis. University Chemical and Biological Safety training sessions will be provided.

Students will also receive instruction on and be required to consider critically relevant ethical issues, covering the use of human organs and tissues, the use of human embryos, the use of animals, the role of ethics committees, ethical issues related to research in genetics and stem cell research, ethical issues related to public health research, informed consent, confidentiality, and data protection.

Students will promote their personal development as independent researchers through attending and reflecting on seminars external to the MRes programme and by participating in small group presentation and discussion.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture251:0025:00Present in Person (PIP): delivery of key knowledge
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:303:00Present in person (PiP) training in Chemical Biological and GM safety
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities51:307:30Non-synchronous online: computer-based practicals in statistics
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities41:004:00Non-synchronous online: student-led small group presentation/discussion sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery51:307:30Present in Person (PIP): further support, especially for the online statistics practicals
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study31:003:00Attending three seminars from a choice of all across the University for external attendance
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study41:004:00Student-led small group presentation/discussion sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study146:0046:00Reading on topics covered, practice stats, prep for assessment & completion of compulsory activities
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide the means of delivering to students the core information required to acquire the intended knowledge outcomes and thus be able to identify within medical or research scenarios relevant ethical, design and statistical issues and to match these to appropriate regulatory procedures and/or statistical tests and to evaluate the extent to which research presented adheres to the principles of good practice in these areas. Chemical, Biological and GM training equips students for working in research laboratories and is a requirement for any student doing experimental work involving chemicals and biologicals. The computer-based practical exercises in statistics will reinforce the theoretical teaching delivered didactically and allow students to test the extent to which they have acquired the necessary knowledge and understanding of these topics. Drop-in problem sessions will be timetabled for those wishing further advice. Interactive tools, suitable to encourage active reflection and poll group opinion will be used when appropriate in lectures on subjects related to bioethics, since these forms of interaction will encourage an understanding of the diversity of opinion around such issues and thus the need for tight regulatory procedures.

Guided Independent Study is used for self-directed learning and includes reading topics covered, practice of statistics and preparation for assessments. Students will also use this time to complete 3 compulsory learning activities:

1) Discussion sessions and group report: Students will also be allocated to groups of approximately 8 and required to organise a series of discussion sessions at which they each take a turn to present then lead discussion on a topic/paper of their choice. Each group must submit a pro-forma listing dates of meetings, discussion leaders and topics presented. Students who do not engage in the student-led group discussions will be required to present and discuss a selected research paper at a forum monitored by a member of academic staff.

2) Seminar abstracts: Students will be required to complete a pro-forma for each of three selected seminars external to MRes formal teaching that they have attended. The pro-forma comprises a 150 word summary in scientific abstract form, a comment on the requirement to consider ethical issues to undertake the work presented and, as appropriate and as far as can be evaluated from the information provided in the seminar, evaluative comments on the extent to which the research presented adhered to principles of sound experimental design and statistical analysis. Students will be required to attend additional seminars and submit completed pro-formas until attainment is satisfactory.

3) An online Ethics computer test: this will assess knowledge of regulatory procedures and ethical principles, and ability to identify and discuss diverse ethical issues within a biomedical context. Feedback will be provided.

Failure to complete the above activities may result in a candidate’s progression on the programme being delayed until the activities are completed, and a candidate may be subject to the University’s Satisfactory Progress Regulation E17 d) Failure to submit written work required under your programme regulations (whether or not such work counts for assessment purposes) at the required time.

1) and 2) must be completed to a satisfactory standard, as judged by the MRes Degree Programme Director or nominee.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination601A100Inspera Present in Person time restricted MCQ test. 30 questions.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment1MComputer based practicals online with PiP drop in support
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The MCQ assessment will test the extent to which students can identify experimental designs most suitable for specific research questions and select and apply statistical tests suitable for particular forms of data.

Reading Lists