BIO2021 : Employability Skills for Biologists

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To offer students the opportunity to undertake a biology-related placement in a real working environment. Students work in commercial, government, local authority or charity organisations to proactively develop their employability skills whilst contributing meaningfully to the work of the host organisation. Students are required to critically reflect on their personal and professional development.

Outline Of Syllabus

Placements are normally provided by commercial concerns, government organisations, local authority departments and appropriate charities, offering a biology-related experience.

In Semester 1, students are scheduled to:
• attend induction sessions outlining module foundations, aims and operation
• attend Careers Service Workshops
• attend a meeting with staff for feedback on CV and covering letter preparation
• make applications for positions with preferred providers
• attend interviews as requested
• start using E-portfolio to record and reflect on progress
• secure a placement position

A list of placement opportunities with committed providers in the region is offered to the students.
They may approach alternative providers both in the region or elsewhere (the latter requiring blocked placement attendance during the Easter Vacation), subject to approval by the module leader.

During Semester 2, students are scheduled to :
• agree all placement activities, work schedule, overall timeline and deliverables with the provider and module leader, before completing the placement plan
• use E-portfolio continuously to record progress and reflect on experiences
• complete at least 35 hours of work at providers premises
• research the background, objectives and operations of the provider
• make a 15-minute presentation to peers and staff
• submit a final reflective report

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Placement plan
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture81:008:00Introduction and Careers Service sessions to underpin career development
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Reflective report
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion13:003:00Presentation preparation.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion23:006:00Presentation and attendance at other presentation sessions.
Placement/Study AbroadEmployer-based learning135:0035:00Placement work at providers premises
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading71:3010:30Tutorial follow-up. Preparation of CV and letters. Careers literature.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading81:008:00Lecture follow-up
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical11:001:00ePortfolio introduction.
Guided Independent StudySkills practice31:003:00Preparation for interviews; research on providers
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching71:007:00Tutorials. CV preparation and placement support.
Guided Independent StudySkills practice30:301:30Interviews
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops30:301:30Careers Service workshops (compulsory attendance)
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity70:303:30Regular use of E-portfolio
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
MST2104Marine Research and Employability Skills
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Initial teaching sessions provide training and support to students in developing the skills required to approach providers and undertake the placement constructively from a career development perspective. These sessions will introduce students to: the operation and assessment of the module; the theory and practice of career development; and how to interact professionally with providers outside of the University environment.

Reflective thinking is introduced and students are expected to continually record activities and reflect on their experience. Drop-in opportunities are provided throughout the module to support students in completing all the tasks required.

Achieving a placement position and undertaking the placement work provides students with a context within which to apply reflection and critical analysis of their situation and activities

Further teaching sessions give students the insights required to prepare the final report as after critically reflecting on the placement experience as a career development opportunity. Assessed work links to the Graduate Skills Framework throughout.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation152A15Placement activities and reflection
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M15Work placement plan (2 sides of A4)
Prof skill assessmnt2M30Assessment by placement provider
Report2M40Placement report (<2000 words)
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmntMCareers Workshops Record of Attendance Form
Written exerciseMHealth and Safety Checklist
Written exerciseMRecord of Activities Form
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MCV and covering letter
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Formative assessment of the CV and covering letter sets the level of professionalism required in dealing with providers and all the summatively assessed elements.

The placement plan is developed by the student with their supervisor, and other staff if relevant, as an exercise in negotiation and planning. It will be used as a template for reflection on graduate skills development in the assessed presentation and final report.

The oral presentation requires students to briefly summarise their placement activities and reflect on their personal and professional consequences. Both this and the report should draw extensively on E-portfolio (or other diary) entries to demonstrate learning and development. Feedback from the oral presentation should feed into the final report.

Evaluation by the provider encompasses all activities from initial interview to completion of agreed work, including workplace competence, overall impact, and evidence of learning and development.

The placement report reflects on the workplace achievements in the context of the work placement plan. It requires critical reflection on personal and professional development in relation to the Graduate Skills Framework and employability.

In addition students will undertake Pass/Fail assessments as follows:

Careers Workshops Record of Attendance Form
Students need to attend three 'Careers Service' workshops of their choice and submit the form confirming their attendance at these workshops.

Health and Safety Checklist
Before students commence their placement, they need to complete and submit a 'Health and Safety' checklist that they have gone through with their placement provider.

Record of Activities Form
Students have to complete a 'Record of Activities' form to show how many hours they are at their placement for. The form must be countersigned by their placement supervisor.

Reading Lists