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CMB1005 : Practical Skills in Biomedical & Biomolecular Sciences 1

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Beth Lawry
  • Lecturer: Dr Nick Morris, Dr Jun-yong Huang, Dr SarahJayne Boulton, Dr Alison Howard, Dr Jeremy Brown, Dr Damian Parry, Dr Simon Bamforth, Professor Robert Hirt, Dr Elizabeth Veal, Dr Michele Sweeney
  • Other Staff: Mr Alex Inskip
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 15
ECTS Credits: 8.0


This module aims to;
• Provide a range of both practical laboratory skills and generic study skills essential to students studying biomolecular and biomedical sciences.
• Provide opportunities for students to apply and strengthen theoretical knowledge gained in complementary and co-requisite modules in the performance of key analytical techniques and interpretation of data generated.
• Develop safe laboratory practice

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is structured into 4 strands, three that align with the co-requisite theoretical modules and a generic skills strand;
The generic skills strand consists of: basic biology knowledge assessment; basic chemistry 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 completion201:0020:00Biology, chemistry & maths tests, Practical Skills Test, practical pre-work & post-lab assessments
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 study190:0090:00N/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 and chemistry 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) -5% Online info retrieval exercise -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
Computer assessment1MOnline Chemistry 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, chemistry and biology tests will allow students to determine their own level of ability in these areas and to practice numeracy, chemistry and biology skills.

Reading Lists