MST1204 : Academic and Professional Skills for the Biosciences

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To enable students to develop the literature searching, writing, numeracy, research, presentation, IT and software skills they require to operate within the Higher Education environment. This includes finding information, reading critically, analysing and interpreting data logically, and making spoken and written presentations on technical information. The opportunity for students to acquire skills in collecting and presenting scientific information will be developed via lectures, workshops, independent study and tutorials. The module will introduce students to their personal tutors through tutorials. The skills gained will be necessary for other modules and useful in careers beyond university.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module provides a sound basis for the understanding of fundamental scientific research skills, in addition to other transferable skills. It explores the key elements required for undertaking scientific research while focusing on topics relevant to the chosen degree pathway, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The module will include lectures, interactive lectures (workshops), computer classes and tutorials.

Interactive lectures (with input from the Writing Development Centre, Library and Careers as necessary) will cover topics such as types of literature, searching strategies, resources, note-taking, referencing, EndNote, poster design, answering exam questions, verbal presentations and slide preparation, scientific writing and employability skills, such as professionalism, team work and time management.

Computer classes will cover basic data manipulation, presentation, analysis and interpretation, and descriptive statistics.

Tutors will use tutorial sessions to reinforce taught material, review assessed work and conduct associated exercises in a less formal small group atmosphere.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:301:30Data handling examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion90:304:30Examination revision – 30 minutes per one hour of workshop material for three, 3 hour workshops
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion14:004:00Preparation for poster
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Preparation for oral presentation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Completing report
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture22:004:00Lecture sessions delivering content, including revision lecture and exam preparation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion118:0018:00Reading materials and preparing for report
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture91:009:00Lecture sessions introducing the module and delivering content
Guided Independent StudySkills practice61:006:00Preparation for tutorials
Guided Independent StudySkills practice73:0021:00Preparation for workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Tutorial delivering oral presentations, including 15 mins for each group’s presentation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Tutorials linked to workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00PC and desk-based workshop sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:301:30PC and desk-based workshop sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00PC and desk-based workshop sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops43:0012:00PC and desk-based workshop sessions
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity80:304:00Group meetings to discuss poster and presentation
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study188:3088:30Independent study
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study40:453:00Lecture follow up
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce the students to the format of the module and outline expectations, including revision requirements for examinations.

Workshops are designed to introduce students to key concepts and allow them the opportunity to develop expertise in a range of fundamental scientific skills, including using scientific literature, collecting, interpreting and presenting scientific information, and using specific software. This will benefit students as they will have more interaction with the academic staff during workshop sessions.

Tutorial sessions will allow students to meet with their Tutor and other academic staff in small groups to further enhance key skills and concepts developed in taught workshop sessions and during independent study.

Students will be directed to supporting information to consolidate their learning by guided independent study. Students will be encouraged to become more independent in their learning at this stage in their programmes, developing key skills such as Active Learning, Goal Setting and Action Planning, Decision Making, and Initiative, which they will require at Levels 5 and 6.

Assessment preparation and completion will allow students to fully prepare for their formative and summative coursework, and their examination. They will have the opportunity to consolidate and build upon knowledge gained in the taught sessions.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination902A35Data handling examination
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M4040 Maximum 1,500 words individual report linked to UN Sustainable Development Goals
Prof skill assessmnt1M2515 minute group presentation linked to report
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Poster1MFormative group poster linked to presentation
Written exercise1MFour formative tutorial exercises
Aural Examination2MThree formative tutorial exercises
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative coursework assessments are designed to test the breadth of knowledge of important concepts related to collecting and presenting scientific information using appropriate styles. Each workshop session will have an accompanying tutorial to allow students to discuss their ideas within small groups. The formative exercises are designed to develop:
1. Abilities to search and utilise appropriate scientific literature
2. Expertise in scientific writing, including planning and structuring
3. Observation skills specific to scientific data in an appropriate format
4. Abilities to interpret, describe and present scientific data in an appropriate format

The 1,500 word summative report will assess a student’s ability to demonstrate their expertise in scientific writing that has been developed through the tutorial system. In addition it will examine their use of the relevant literature to support their ideas and their ability to present information in an appropriate scientific format. In producing the report, students will need to use literature searching, note-taking, decision-making and academic writing skills.

The 15 minute oral group presentation will assess a student’s ability to concisely present the key points from their report, using appropriate presentation techniques, at a level suitable to their audience. Their use of visual aids, the structure of the presentation, the level of scientific information, and their presentation style will be assessed.

The poster will give students an opportunity to present scientific information in an accessible manner. The group poster will give students the opportunity to work as a team to produce a coherent final product.

The data examination will assess the students’ ability to manipulate, present, analyse and interpret data and use statistics.

The formative coursework assessment provide students with the opportunity to gain feedback on a draft version of their individual report and the group poster prior to final submission. The formative tutorial exercises are designed to supplement student learning from scheduled workshops.

Reading Lists