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 basic scientific skills for accessing, critically evaluating, recording and communicating information; 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 mathematical techniques for manipulation of scientific data; use of descriptive statistics and statistical testing of hypotheses.
The course will consist of 2 x 2 hour laboratory practicals on campus, and one extended online practical exercise. The module will introduce a range of academic and practical skills and students will be given guidance on how to design and carry out experiments, and how data should be collected, analysed and reported. 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 guided exercises so that students can become familiar with the use of Blackboard, the library catalogue, Microsoft Word, and Excel spreadsheets.
There will be weekly topics and online tasks, to help structure self-directed learning. There will be many small formative assessments and with 2 hours of live online sessions per week, there will be plenty of opportunities for feedback and discussion.
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.
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.
Perform simple scientific mathematical calculations (relating to molarity, SI units, concentrations and dilutions) and data manipulations.
|Online Test MCQ 1||20|
|Animal behaviour practical report||30|
|Online test MCQ 2||20|
Teaching and Learning Strategy
Weekly topics and online resources with associated tasks for self-directed learning. Directed group work for poster assignment, and individual study for practicing skills, preparing for and taking online tests, writing practical reports and completing formative assessments.
Twice weekly online lectures to introduce the philosophy of science and the scientific method; topics in biology and practical classes; transferable skills required for scientific investigation and presentation. Activities relating to skills development. Opportunities for feedback, discussion and questions.
Two x 2 hour laboratory practicals on campus.
- 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
- Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation
- 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
- Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
- Apply appropriate techniques for presenting spatial and/or temporal trends in data.
- Prepare effective maps, diagrams and visualizations.
- Undertake field and/or laboratory studies to ensure competence in basic experimental and/or fieldwork skills.
- Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation
- Demonstrate the independence and skills required for continuing professional development
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)
- C10F: BSc Biology year 1 (BSC/BF)
- 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)
- C327: BSc Zoology with Climate Change Studies w International Exp year 1 (BSC/ZCCIE)
- C3L3: BSc Zoology with Conservation with International Experience year 1 (BSC/ZCIE)
- C3L4: BSc Zoology with Conservation with Placement Year year 1 (BSC/ZCP)
- C30F: BSc Zoology year 1 (BSC/ZF)
- C304: BSC Zoology with Herpetology year 1 (BSC/ZH)
- C307: BSc Zoology with Herpetology (with International Experience) year 1 (BSC/ZHIE)
- 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)
- C32P: Zoology with Primatology with Placement Year year 1 (BSC/ZPP)
- C330: BSc Zoology with Ornithology year 1 (BSC/ZR)
- C3D3: BSC Zoology with Animal Behaviour year 1 (BSC/ZWAB)
- C3DP: BSc Zoology with Animal Behaviour with Placement Year year 1 (BSC/ZWABP)
- 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)
- C30P: MZool Zoology with Animal Behaviour with Placement Year year 1 (MZOOL/ABP)
- CD34: MZool Zoology with Conservation year 1 (MZOOL/CONS)
- CD3P: MZool Zoology with Conservation with Placement Year year 1 (MZOOL/CONSP)
- 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)
- C326: MZool Zoology with Herpetology with International Experience year 1 (MZOOL/ZHIE)
- C353: MZool Zoology with Marine Zoology year 1 (MZOOL/ZMZ)
- C37P: MZool Zoology with Marine Zoology with Placement Year year 1 (MZOOL/ZMZP)
- 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)