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Module BSX-1028:
Tutorials Year 1

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Joanna Smith

Overall aims and purpose

The aim of the tutorial module is to develop transferable skills such as oral and written communication, time management and organisation, personal interaction and communicating scientific ideas and arguments. The tutorials will allow you to develop key skills that underpin the academic skills gained from lectures and laboratory practicals associated with your degree programme. In addition, tutorials provide a good opportunity to get to know your personal tutor and fellow course members.

Course content

Semester One: Students will develop their written communication skills via the preparation of essays (1000-1500 words) on topics relevant to their degree programme. Opportunities will be given to receive formative feedback, both general and specific, before the submission of a final summative essay.

Semester Two: Students will develop their spoken communication skills via the presentation of short talks to a variety of audiences.

Both Semesters: Students will attend 'Popular Science' talks given by members of the academic staff. These provide exemplars and opportunities for reflection on the skills necessary to communicate complex science, as well as giving students an opportunity to start to identify and develop their specific interests in particular aspects of their subject. This will also allow development of note-taking and identification of key points in lectures.

Assessment Criteria


B- to B+: A good student will produce a well-structured cogent argument demonstrating good understanding of the information requested and knowledge of the subject matter. Communication will be coherent and matched to the intended audience. References/sources will be appropriate, scientific and evaluated well.


D- to D+: A threshold student will demonstrate a basic ability to answer questions with relevant information, with some organisation of thoughts and understanding of the subject matter. Communication may have some misunderstandings evident but will show basic understanding of the principles. References will be used but may be limited or may rely on less appropriate sources.


A- to A+: An excellent student will demonstrate a wider understanding of the implications of the question beyond the obvious, a good grasp of latest developments in the subject area (including its limitations) and a developed critical ability. Communication will be fluent and articulate, with an ability to engage the audience. References/sources will be highly appropriate, scientific, well evaluated and extensively researched.

C- to C+

C- to C+: A student acheiving C level grades will demonstrate reasonable understanding of the information requested and some knowledge of the subject matter though with some lapses in detail and accuracy of ideas. A reasonable attempt to communicate ideas will be made, with some evidence of consideration of the intended audience. References/sources will be appropriate though may be limited.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate awareness of current developments and issues in the Biological Sciences

  2. Communicate scientific information and ideas in an effective and concise manner both orally and in writing

  3. Obtain information on a specified topic from a variety of sources including the primary scientific literature

  4. Develop personal development skills relating to time management, prioritisation of work, organisation and managing deadlines.

  5. Develop life long learning skills

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 2: Peer reviewed Essay 0
Essay 3 35
Reflective Journal (Semester 1) 15
Engagement and participation (Semester 1) 5
Engagement and participation (Semester 2) 5
Scientific Presentation 1 0
In-tutorial Scientific Presentation 2 25
Reflective Journal (Semester 2) 10
Abstract (Semester 2) 5
Essay 1 0

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Students are encouraged to develop a broad scientific knowledge of all aspects of the Biological Sciences via the reading of current scientific texts, being aware of current scientific affairs and developments via media coverage on news programmes, websites and documentary programmes.


Popular science talks. Aim of these talks is to showcase the broad and exciting variety of research conducted within the school and to provide opportunities to meet and talk to academic staff and research topics.

Popular science sessions also act as a platform to improve note-taking skills and via the use of minute papers reflect and evaluate principles of science communication.


Directed reflective practice and formative scientific writing tasks in an online environment supported by tutors. These will be designed to encourage continued engagement, time on task and to promote practice of skills being learnt in both this module and in the Biology Practical Skills module.


Tutorials will be delivered in a small group setting, with individual tutors. Students will be supported with scientific writing skills, given pastoral support and opportunities for formative feedback.


Following every seminar, students have the opportunity to talk to a set member of staff to reflect on experience of first year and to consider the lectures that they have just attended. Attendance at these is optional but students value them as a forum for discussion with staff and peers.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • 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.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • 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

  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • 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.


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: