Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment - both semesters  70%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   30%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   Examination and resubmission of failed coursework or alternative (as determined by the exam board).  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to

1. demonstrate the effective use of information resources and data retrieval and archiving methods
2. evaluate and compare primary and secondary information from different sources
3. evaluate, interpret and analyse data from scientific experiments
4. demonstrate the use of a personal computer for word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation tasks and prepare and present integrated reports using these facilities
5. communicate findings and informed opinions through written and oral presentations


This module is designed to provide a fundamental training in essential scientific research skills including numerical, information technology, study, laboratory, time-management and communication skills. It will provide a package of skills that is transferable to a wide range of employment situations.


Through a series of practical sessions and exercises the basics of current application of information technology, including modern (bio)informatic approaches will be introduced. Students will be introduced to methods for the storage of data in files, file management, data archiving and security, computer networks and printing.
Students will gain experience in the use of word-processing and spreadsheet software packages. Text handling and formatting operations, the use of an equation editor and how to insert graphics will be demonstrated. Use of spreadsheet packages will be integrated with the mathematical elements of the module in examples where scientific data are analysed. The concepts of workbooks and worksheets, text and number input, formatting cells and using functions as well as creating graphics will be covered. Appropriate use of presentation software will be demonstrated.
The basic concepts of experimental design will be covered with reference to examples in key recommended texts. The informatics element will include training in the use of reference management software and providing appropriate referencing in reports. These skills will be utilised in essay and powerpoint presentations relating to subject specific themes and will be assessed in tutorials. Practical workshops will provide introductions to study skills, microscopy use, computing skills and fundamental laboratory skills.
The following mathematical concepts will be set in a background of handling scientific data: types of numbers; significant figures; scientific notation; units - conversion from one level to another (including Standard SI units); logarithms, converting from number to log and back again; exponents; tables and graphs; concepts of dilution series; percentages and proportions; basic algebra; accuracy and precision in reporting results; the straight line, second and third degree polynomial functions, the exponential and power functions, allometry in plants and animals.
Tutorials will include guidance and feedback on the use of information services, essay writing, oral presentation as well as discussion of topics relevant to the student's degree course.
The Awareness and Skills Development Programme of the Careers Unit is incorporated in the module. This will concentrate on writing a curriculum vita, identifying personal skills as well as developing an action plan for study in addition to consideration of the student's career on leaving university.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Collection and scrutiny of data in terms of quality and quantity. Data interpretation and processing.
Communication The production of balanced practical reports, essays and oral presentations. Listening skills for the lectures and subsequent discussion in tutorial groups. Effective written communication in examinations. Oral presentation skills.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to research materials, manage time and meet deadlines. The directed study elements will provide opportunities for students to explore their own learning styles and preferences and identify their needs and barriers to learning. This will be achieved through formative study, such as practice with scientific calculations using the software resources provided, and use of key texts for emphasizing self training in practical and time management skills. Students will be able to review and monitor their progress and plan for improvement of personal performance.
Information Technology Accessing the web for information sources and using databases to find primary and secondary literature. Use of software packages required to produce practical reports, essays and manage and format scientific references.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will gain confidence in their ability to evaluate scientific problems and assess objectively the quality of proposed solutions.
Problem solving Through the lectures and practicals students will become aware of the necessity to use numerical analysis of scientific data as a key research skill. Lectures, practical classes and workshops will allow students to gain experience in designing and executing experiments, interpreting data and writing-up assessed scientific experiments.
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the lecture material using both directed and independent study. Information from a variety of sources will be the object of scrutiny and comment. Practical classes will allow the development of key scientific research skills at an early stage of their academic careers.
Subject Specific Skills Subject specific concepts relating to key scientific research skills, such as experimental design and data evaluation will be developed. The importance of applying learned skills to generic problem solving will be emphasised.
Team work Students will work in pairs/small groups during practical and tutorial sessions. They will need to discuss their experimental design and work effectively as small teams in completing work for tutorials and practical classes. Essay writing will incorporate peer review and feedback from colleagues.

Reading List

Cann, Alan. (c2003.) Maths from scratch for biologists /Alan J. Cann. Wiley Primo search Jones, A. M. (2003.) Practical skills in biology /[by] Allan Jones, Rob Reed, Jonathan Weyers. Prentice Hall Primo search (2000.) Practical skills in environmental science /Allan Jones ... [et al.]. Longman Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4