Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Frontiers in Plant Science
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Individual interview  20 Minutes  40%
Semester Assessment Scoping report  2400 Words  60%
Supplementary Assessment Individual interview  20 Minutes  40%
Supplementary Assessment Scoping report  2400 Words  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Describe and discuss selected front line research areas in the Plant Sciences appreciating its value to stakeholders at several levels and across sectors.

Position a research area against a background of societal need and future potential use, research history and intellectual endeavour.

Scope a research area and critically evaluate the best way forward for subject or solution development.

Produce a structured and professional scoping report that responds to a problem or need for a solution in the research environment.

Communicate research understanding both orally and in writing, tailored appropriately for different stakeholders and sectors.

Brief description

This module immerses students into the plant science research landscape, allowing them to critically assess research quality, understand the mechanisms by which research policy is set as well as identify the needs, delivery mechanisms and the users of such research. Selected topics are presented involving field, laboratory and glasshouse visits with follow up reading. The challenges and current cul-de-sacs that hold back research are presented along with new opportunities. Students will learn, understand and communicate knowledge by assessed presentation-cum-interview and next select a topic for scoping forward via research. This module has a strong focus on understanding how plant science research functions at all levels, including impacts on society, industrial partnerships and translation into products. Students will be expected to explore, synthesize and be able to communicate their ideas both orally and in writing. A scoping report is produced to develop strong project management skills and understanding of the subject at a professional level.


Growing concerns about global warming, human population growth and food security has spawned a new green revolution where plant science has been tasked to identify solutions to help deliver a prosperous and sustainable future for humankind. This module places students at the frontier of the subject and front line research that respond to this challenge.
Students will be introduced to the team, module aims and assessments during week 1. They will then (weeks 2-5) be provided with an introduction into four key areas of research in Plant Science research at IBERS (e.g. Plants and BioEnergy, Healthy Oats, Sequestering Carbon, Grassland services, Phenomics, Breeding for Environmental traits etc). The students will engage with researchers who will deliver seminars, discussions and debates, laboratory / field tours to provide an overview of key challenges in their respective fields. Information will be given in advance of the sessions for preparation followed by questions and answers student literature review post sessions. These ‘workshops’ will provide the full background into why the research is important, who will use the findings, the history of the research area leading to the front line of research in the present day. Following on from these sessions, students will select two topics to be examined by interview to test their knowledge of the subject matter and research questions considered (week 7). A formative mock interview session will be held in week 6 to prepare them for this assessment.
They will next focus on one topic from the two areas initially selected and produce a scoping report in consultation with a research team. This may involve weekly laboratory immersion and engagement with research group members, aiding with practical work in the field or laboratory, interviewing relevant staff and becoming a part of the research environment. This scoping report and process will aim to deliver a document that will be valuable to the research group which in this case will be presented as the ‘client’ for this work (weeks 8-11).
This module has a strong focus on effective communication skills, discussion and research skills. Students will be expected to explore, synthesise and be able to communicate their ideas both orally and in writing. A scoping report assessment aims to develop strong project management skills and understanding of the subject area at a professional level. Their ability to understand and communicate Plant science orally at the highest level via a viva/interview style examination aims to heighten their competitiveness when applying for future employment. Relevance of module skills to potential careers will be emphasized throughout.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Analysis of numerical data from workshops/papers and presentation in the notebook and scoping report.
Communication Scientific communication tested both orally and in writing.
Improving own Learning and Performance Feedback provided via Turnitin on the report, annotations on the notebooks and a report provided on oral examination.
Information Technology Use of information technology, including spreadsheets etc for any data processing for report or notebook.
Personal Development and Career planning Relevance of module skills to potential careers emphasized.
Problem solving Presents a problem that the student must respond to via synthesis.
Research skills Strong emphasis on research skills, synthesis and information literacy – immersion into research environment.
Subject Specific Skills Specific to Plant Science.


This module is at CQFW Level 6