BIO8198 : MRes Research Dissertation Project

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
Semester 2 Credit Value: 40
Semester 3 Credit Value: 60
ECTS Credits: 60.0


The aim of this module is for the student to develop and complete an independent research project in an area directly related to their degree within the framework of the Biodesign cycle of ‘Design, Build, Test, Learn’. In semester one the students will focus on the ‘Design’ aspects with a design studio lead by the module staff; where, through a series of interactive research seminars and workshops, they develop a research project based on questions presented by the project supervisors within ‘Grand Challenge’ research themes. Through a series of theoretical and practical discussions, the students will develop skills in design-focused thinking, develop a research plan, and pitch the project idea to their peers and supervisors. In semesters two and three the students will focus on the ‘Build, test, and Learn’ aspects with an in-depth practical research project where the student can show their research, analytical, interpretive and critical thinking skills. Some projects may be group projects where a team of students will work together on different aspects a single problem. In these cases, the students will work together to gather information and collate data, but each student must present an individual final thesis in the form of a research paper.

Outline Of Syllabus

Students will develop a research project in semester 1 within the scope of the research interests of the module contributors and potential project supervisors. The design studio will introduce the students to the concepts and practice of design thinking and key concepts in biodesign with seminars and interactive workshops lead by the module team. The workshops will focus on the following topics:
• Design-thinking as a process for problem solving
• Grand Challenges, UN sustainable development goals and wicked problems
• The BioDesign Cycle: Design, Build, Test, Learn
• Project development
• Presentation and pitching skills
• Proposal structure, writing, and peer review
• Standards in synthetic biology and biodesign
• Data analysis, presentation, and sharing
• Project budgeting and organisation
• Implementation and analysis

The students will refine and deliver a 15-minute presentation/pitch of the project idea developed through the workshops and their independent study. They will also produce a written proposal outlining the aims, details, and budget of their project.

The students will develop their project proposal in semester 2 with a detailed GANTT chart and project timeline that will determine the timetable for their laboratory research. In semester 2 and 3 the student will undertake their individual research project under the supervision of the project supervisor, or supervisory team for group projects. This project will answer a specific research question and test the student’s ability to advance their knowledge and research skills in this subject.

The student will produce a research paper based on their research in the format of a high-quality journal article appropriate for their research.

The student will then deliver a 15-minute presentation at the end of their research to an audience of students and academics the demonstrates their ability to explain their research and its conclusions to an audience and to answer questions based upon their research

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1150:00150:00Dissertation writing
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Individual presentation (including preparation)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Project GANTT and plan writing
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Group presentation (including preparation)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Project proposal writing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops102:0020:00BioDesign workshops in Semester 1
Guided Independent StudyProject work1620:00620:00Research leading to dissertation
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity102:0020:00Group project development sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00Includes background reading and reading notes for a full understanding of material.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1260:00260:00Includes background reading and reading notes for a full understanding of material.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision202:0040:00Meetings with Supervisory team
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The students practise and develop their discipline related skills and knowledge, and their generic skills, through independent study of an individual research project. They gain the skills and knowledge delivered by the module by “learning through doing” as they undertake the project. They are supported by one or more academic supervisors who advise on experimental methodology and result interpretation.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation53M510 minute presentation on the dissertation followed by 5 minutes of questions
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Dissertation3M80Approx. 7000 words, to be written in the style of the most appropriate high-quality journal for the subject
Case study2M5Risk assessment, and COSHH, ethical assessment and GANTT timeline.
Research proposal1M10Project proposal Approx 2500 words in the style of an abridged RCUK Case for Support and Justification of Resources
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1MFormative group presentation on project idea.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The aim of the assessment is to test the student’s ability to develop and design a research project (Project Proposal) to answer a specific research question, to plan the implementation of the project (Project plan and GANTT) to undertake and report that investigation and to present the information both to an audience in the form of an oral presentation and as a journal paper.
The Group presentation formative assessment allows the student to receive feedback from instructors and peers before the preparation of the Project Proposal

Reading Lists