Practical Skills 1
Run by School of Natural Sciences
20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Rosanna Robinson
Overall aims and purpose
This module aims to provide a foundation in the laboratory, scientific and transferrable skills necessary for students to investigate and communicate a range of topics in the biological sciences. It is designed to equip students with the skills necessary for later stages in the course. More specifically, it will introduce safe laboratory practice and risk assessment; basic laboratory skills such as light microscopy, handling of liquids, scientific measurement; the use of simple protocols for carrying out experimental techniques; basic scientific skills for accessing, critically evaluating, recording and communicating information;basic mathematical techniques for manipulation of scientific data; use of descriptive statistics and statistical testing of hypotheses.
The course will consist of 5 x 3 hour laboratory practicals and one field trip. This will introduce a range of practical skills and students will be given guidance on how data should be collected, analysed and reported.
There will be 2 hours of lectures per week, in which students will be introduced to the philosophy of science and the scientific approach, and to the diversity of practical techniques used in the biosciences.
There will be optional help sessions so that students can become familiar with the use of Blackboard, the library catalogue, Microsoft Word, and Excel spreadsheets.
A good mark (>60%) will be awarded when a student demonstrates an ability to work with a good degree of accuracy, to critically evaluate the experimental data, to present results clearly and concisely and to relate their findings to theoretical concepts.
A threshold mark (40%) equates to demonstrating a moderate level of both practical and transferrable skills and an ability to interpret and present experimental results in a clear manner.
An excellent student (>70%) will demonstrate an ability to work with a high degree of accuracy. They will be able to think critically and synthesise information from lectures and from reading the primary literature. They will display a high level of critical understanding of data, analysis, interpretation and presentation.
Perform simple scientific mathematical calculations (relating to molarity, SI units, concentrations and dilutions) and data manipulations.
Keep accurate records, and write well structured, coherent, scientific reports, with well-presented tables and figures and appropriately-cited literature and reference lists.
Work safely in the field or a laboratory and be aware of potential hazards and their associated risk.
Competently use basic laboratory equipment, including micropipettes, light microscopes and dissecting gear.
|Biological Drawings (Formative)||0|
|Animal behaviour practical report||30|
Teaching and Learning Strategy
Lectures to introduce: the philosophy of science and the scientific method; topics in biology and practical classes; transferrable skills required for scientific investigation and presentation. Class activities relating to skills development.
|Practical classes and workshops||
5 x 3 hour laboratory practicals and 1 x 2 hour field trip.
Optional tutorials and computer help sessions.
Directed study, writing practical reports and formative assessments.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
- Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
- 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
Students will need a lab coat, appropriate outdoor clothing for field trips, plus paper, pen and ruler.
Jones, Reed, Weyers (2016). "Practical Skills in Biology" 6th Edition, Pearson.
Hawkins' (2014) "Biomeasurement", 3rd Edition. Oxford.
Other tests will be recommended by practical leaders for specific assignments.
Courses including this module
Compulsory in courses:
- C100: BSC Biology year 1 (BSC/B)
- C511: BSc Biology with Biotechnology year 1 (BSC/BIOT)
- C102: BSc Biology (with International Experience) year 1 (BSC/BITE)
- C300: BSC Zoology year 1 (BSC/Z)
- C305: BSc Zoology with Animal Behaviour (with International Exp) year 1 (BSC/ZABIE)
- C3L2: BSC Zoology with Conservation year 1 (BSC/ZC)
- C319: BSc Zoology with Climate Change Studies year 1 (BSC/ZCC)
- C3L3: BSc Zoology with Conservation with International Experience year 1 (BSC/ZCIE)
- C3L4: BSc Zoology with Conservation with Placement Year year 1 (BSC/ZCP)
- C304: BSC Zoology with Herpetology year 1 (BSC/ZH)
- C324: BSc Zoology with International Experience year 1 (BSC/ZIE)
- C3C1: BSc Zoology with Marine Zoology (with International Exp) year 1 (BSC/ZMB)
- C350: BSC Zoology with Marine Zoology year 1 (BSC/ZMZ)
- C329: BSc Zoology with Primatology year 1 (BSC/ZP)
- C330: BSc Zoology with Ornithology year 1 (BSC/ZR)
- C3D3: BSC Zoology with Animal Behaviour year 1 (BSC/ZWAB)
- C101: MBiol Master of Biology year 1 (MBIOL/BIO)
- C510: MBiol Biology with Biotechnology year 1 (MBIOL/BIOT)
- C302: MZool Zoology with Animal Behaviour year 1 (MZOOL/AB)
- CD34: MZool Zoology with Conservation year 1 (MZOOL/CONS)
- C303: MZool Zoology with Herpetology year 1 (MZOOL/HERP)
- C325: MZool Zoology with Animal Behaviour with International Exp year 1 (MZOOL/ZAIE)
- C321: MZool Zoology with Climate Change year 1 (MZOOL/ZCC)
- C353: MZool Zoology with Marine Zoology year 1 (MZOOL/ZMZ)
- C306: MZool Zoology (with International Experience) year 1 (MZOOL/ZOIE)
- C301: MZool Master of Zoology year 1 (MZOOL/ZOO)
- C333: MZool Zoology with Primatology year 1 (MZOOL/ZP)
- C334: MZool Zoology with Ornithology year 1 (MZOOL/ZR)