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Module BSM-4110:
Research Project

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

60 Credits or 30 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Anil Shirsat

Overall aims and purpose

Please note: This module is only available to students on College of Natural Sciences Degree Programmes

This is a major component of the M.Sc. Programme. All registered students who have passed the theory modules undertake a research project under the supervision of a member of academic staff. The project addresses a biological question or topic by practical experimentation in a laboratory setting. Experimental work will be conducted either as an individual or as a member of a small group researching related aspects of a single topic. The projects are generally fluid in nature, with the direction of investigation being dictated by results obtained, or problems encountered. Results are presented in a written report and through an oral presentation to student peers and academic staff. This module is designed to give students experience in conducting independent research. It will provide training and experience in molecular biology and biotechnology techniques, in the manipulation of data, in the production of an M.Sc. project thesis and will enable students to critically analyse literature pertaining to the subject area.

Course content

Projects will be offered in a number of areas including Recombinant protein expression, Plant Biotechnology, Marine Biotechnology, Environmental Genomics, Environmental Biotechnology and Molecular Biology. The exact nature of the projects will be determined by the individual supervisors, and communicated to the students well in advance of the commencement of the Research project.

Assessment Criteria


The student must show a good understanding of how to investigate a biological subject and demonstrate ability to follow basic protocols. The literature review will form an adequate introduction to the project such that someone not expert in the field may understand the significance of results presented, be comprehensive and show clear knowledge of the background. A variety of relevant sources of literature will be documented. The student will have a good grasp of the research subject. The literature review will be comprehensive and show clear knowledge of the background. The report will be clearly written and interpretation of the results will relate directly to the initial hypothesis. Experimental work will proceed in an efficient and productive manner.


Thoroughly competent appreciation of the subject with no major errors or misunderstandings. Presentation of the material in a logical and ordered manner. The answer would usually be expected to show evidence of gleaning information from background reading, although an excellent synthesis of the lecture material could gain marks towards the lower end of this category. No demonstration of great originality.


The student will demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the subject matter through the literature review, and understand the relevance of the research programme to address hypotheses. Data will be accurately interpreted in order to draw logical conclusions pertinent to the formulated hypotheses. The results must be clearly presented in a well-written report. The student will be able to critically evaluate experimental protocols. Complete familiarity with the subject, showing confidence in handling pertinent facts and arguments. Demonstration of assimilation and understanding of the material gleaned from a variety of sources including lectures, books, reviews and articles in the scientific literature. Ability to present material with a strong element of originality, individuality and insight and to integrate it into a broad biological context. Conveys a convincing impression of being an authority on the subject.

Learning outcomes

  1. Locate, interpret and collate information from a variety of sources.

  2. Formulate a hypothesis on which to base a research study.

  3. Collate, analyse and draw conclusions from information/data in relation to the initial hypothesis.

  4. Communicate information through a report written in an appropriate scientific style.

  5. Communicate clearly the results of the project to peers and members of staff as part of a Panopto video presentation

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Project 80
presentation of the project 20

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Individual Project

After an introduction the student conducts an investigation in the laboratory or field in an appropriate biological subject area under academic supervision. Consultations with supervisor will be expected on a weekly basis. This includes reviewing the pertinent literature in order to lay the interrogative foundation for the work, devising and/or following procedures that address the formulated question or hypothesis, and drawing appropriate conclusions from the results. Reports in the form of a MSc thesis, and a short oral presentation will be prepared.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Develop and identify research question(s) and/or hypotheses as the basis for investigation.
  • Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Engage in debate and/or discussion with specialists and non-specialists using appropriate language.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.
  • Undertake practical work to ensure competence in basic experimental skills.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation


Resource implications for students


Courses including this module