Course specification and structure
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PMBMSTDL - MSc Biomedical Studies (Distance Learning)

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Master of Science Level Masters
Possible interim awards Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
Total credits for course 180
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School School of Human Sciences
Subject Area Biosciences
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Part-time Distance Learning 2 YEARS 3 YEARS
Course leader  

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-learning

Most students will convert to the MSc/PGDip/PGCert pathway after completing their IBMS top-up studies. Therefore, this course is designed to specifically to facilitate these students enabling them to promote a deep understanding in the continually evolving mixed disciplinary area of Biomedical Science. Students will develop knowledge and skills which will empower them to be autonomous professional practitioners. The course will foster high level reasoning skills and promote lifelong learning and continuous professional development (CPD). CPD top-up modules: individual modules are offered for CPD and career progression purpose.

Emphasis will be placed on self-directed and problem based learning within a lecture/extension activity framework. Students will explore case studies to promote high level reasoning in a professional context. They will compare laboratory diagnostic methods, consider new methodologies and examine research literature. Students have access a comprehensive range of journals and online learning resources via the library catalogue.

Summative assessment of students’ knowledge base and their understanding will be incorporated into formal in-course tests/exercises and the individual presentation completed at the end of each unit. The personal learning log included in most modules will enhance the students ability to reflect on their learning and professional development.

The offering of MSc/PGDip/PGCert Biomedical Studies (Distance Learning) makes it possible for the course to be taken by students who due to their work or personal commitments, could not leave their employment, their home country, or simply prefer the flexibility to study for the course anywhere and anytime without having to attend the traditional campus-based classes. Students will still receive effective and timely guidance and support throughout the course.

The University’s state-of-art Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and other appropriate tools are used to provide a highly interactive, supportive and collaborative learning experience for the students. A wide range of synchronous and asynchronous facilities are used where appropriate for the effective delivery and assessment of the modules. Among these facilities are WebLearn learning materials, video lectures, discussion board and online forum, and online presentation, viva and feedback. Students are encouraged to become active participants, rather than passive recipients, of this learning process.

There are many facilities available on WebLearn and via other tools that can make the successful delivery of the course by distant teaching not only possible but also highly effective. The examples of the range of synchronous and asynchronous facilities on VLE are listed in the following table, grouped according to their potential roles in learning and teaching, assessment, and student support.

To facilitate a flexible yet structured student learning experience for each module, the range of topics covered are grouped into a number of learning units with the use of diagnostic assessments to personalise the learning as required for the students. Normally each module consists of ten-twelve learning units. Each learning unit is designed to cover selected topics.

The module leaders will provide the following via VLE (e.g. WebLearn) for the module:
Clear description of required learning activities including required reading list and exercises. Lecture slides and/or other supporting materials. Answer questions posted on the discussion forum on the VLE and facilitate the discussion among students. A clear description of tasks, submission instruction, submission deadlines, assessment criteria and marking sheet.
Individual module leaders will provide synchronous and asynchronous feedback/support to online WebLearn discussions and questions and provide individual support on issues relating to the module on a weekly basis during specified office hours. In addition the course leader will also be available to provide additional feedback and support during a specified time each week.
Also where the equivalent “live” on-site modules are running during either the autumn or spring semester the DL module students will be invited to participate using Collaborate (or similar tool) to foster inter-course communication and develop a cohort identity.

Students are strongly encouraged to:

  1. Complete required learning activities
  2. Post questions related to the module to the relevant Forum in discussion board and engage in online discussion with peers and the relevant module leader (during office hours)
  3. Submit solutions to study tasks and the required assessment by the given deadline in accordance with published procedures
  4. Regularly check mail boxes, notice boards, e-mails for update on the module.
  5. Complete 200 hours (or 100 for 10 credit option) of study (600 hours in the case of MSc project module).

For the MSc project module. MSc supervisors will provide a list of proposed MSc project topics or students can undertake a project proposed by them and their employer. The MSc project topics and project proposal will be developed in the “research development and skills” module. At the start of the MSc project module, each student will be allocated a project supervisor. Clear guide, milestones and submission deadlines will be provided in WebLearn, together with on-going supervision activities.

Course Induction
Upon course enrolment, students will be given access to the University’s WebLearn and Evision. In addition, various communication means (including Face-to-face messaging system, telephone and email) will be used to contact the students to inform them of the access to “Course Induction” organisational shell on WebLearn.

The aim of the “Course Induction” on WebLearn is to enable students to:

  1. obtain a clear understanding of relevant course/module level information;
  2. gain a good understanding of university ‘s Academic Regulations relevant to the course including Student Misconduct Regulations.
  3. acquire a clear knowledge of all the key facilitates on WebLearn that will be used in the distant learning.
  4. understand where to find all key information items related to their study.
  5. help develop a sense of learner-community throughout the course.

The following materials may be provided in the “Course Induction” shell on WebLearn:

  1. A recorded welcome video from the School
  2. A number of video clips and documents which help to guide students to:
    access modules on WebLearn
    i) obtain a Face-to-face messaging system account and link to online guide on the use of Face-to-face messaging system
    ii) access to the online library and e-textbooks.
    iii) submit assignments via “Turnitin” and “assignment” links.
    iv) check feedback on WebLearn.
    v) access university email and use it to contact tutors.
    vi) participate in discussion in the discussion board
    vii) use Evision to change personal details, check module result, enrol modules, etc.
    viii) access the university ‘s Academic Regulations including those on Student Misconduct.
  3. Small tasks (such as posting a bio to discussion board, submitting an essay type assignment to Turnitin, and email the tutor) will be given to the students to check they have achieved the aims of the course induction.
  4. Links to other relevant information such as online module catalogue, and tutor profile page.

Furthermore, a course level Linkedin group and twitter account will be setup to provide a course level learning community.

Course aims

The Postgraduate Distance Learning Biomedical Studies programme aims to:

  1. provide graduates with advanced study of Biomedical Science, which underpins career progression and development; an appreciation of the depth and breadth of Biomedical Science, the remit of the HCPC and IBMS, the attributes and roles of the practitioner and requirements for laboratory safety, QA, QC, and accreditation bodies
  2. provide a high level of scientific knowledge and understanding of disease processes from the molecular to the body systems level;
  3. develop an informed and critical appreciation of recent scientific developments in relation to diagnostic laboratory pathology;
  4. enable students to gain additional specialist knowledge
  5. provide, the opportunity for study in areas unique to postgraduate Biomedical Science
  6. enable students to plan, carry out and write up a masters level research project

In addition to the general programme aims above, the individual modules provide CPD opportunities for extending knowledge, updating skills, or gaining new skills in specialist Biomedical Science areas at postgraduate level.
Additional generic postgraduate aims:

  1. to develop research and development skills for use in project work and production of research reports.
  2. to develop students’ intellectual, practical and personal skills in the area of Biomedical Science consistent with masters level study.
  3. to undertake a substantial individual project which utilises current and up-to-date Biomedical Science techniques and research tools.
  4. to encourage students to reflect critically on their own experiences, to develop their own capabilities and to regard themselves as life-long learners.

Professional development and the practice of managerial skills are also to be supported on the course. The distance learning delivery mode offers significant flexibility whereby all teaching and learning materials are provided in the most advanced Virtual Learning Environment. In addition to the general programme aims above, the individual modules provide CPD opportunities for extending knowledge, updating skills, or gaining new skills in specialist Biomedical Science areas at postgraduate level.

Course learning outcomes

Delivery and assessment of the modules provides opportunities for students to achieve and demonstrate the learning outcomes listed in 11a, 11b, 11c and 11d. These outcomes are reinforced in the additional optional modules taken for each award. Where single modules are taken for CPD or other purposes the learning outcomes are specified in each unit outline.

Knowledge and understanding
Students should be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  1. Biomedical Science consistent with consolidation of advances in the subject within an existing knowledge framework;
  2. technical developments, their advantages, limitations and implications;
  3. how research impacts on the diagnosis and treatment of disease (with particular emphasis on laboratory diagnostics and monitoring);
  4. the rationale for an extensive Research Project (MSc only).

Emphasis will be placed on self-directed and problem based learning within a lecture/extension activities framework. Students will explore case studies, compare laboratory diagnostic methods, consider new methodologies and examine the research literature.

Exercises and short phase tests will be used to provide students with feedback on their progress. Summative assessment of students’ knowledge base and their understanding will be incorporated into formal in-course tests/exercises (30%), personal learning log (40%) and end of module assessment completed at the end of each unit (30%). MSc project assessment will culminate in the presentation of a dissertation and a poster presentation (via Face-to-face messaging system/or similar technology), which also explores knowledge and understanding.

Cognitive/intellectual skills
Students should be able to demonstrate cognitive (thinking) skills by:

  1. assimilating information and developing ideas on issues, methodologies or pathogenic processes
  2. explaining how a working hypothesis may be devised and tested within the constraints of a biomedical context
  3. critically evaluating material on a complex Biomedical Science topic in order to present a balanced review
  4. planning the execution of an extensive Research Project and assessing the outcome (MSc only)
    Intellectual skills will be developed through reflection, example and practice during delivery of the course.

Cognitive skills will be assessed in those in-course assessments, such as abstracting exercises or those requiring critical appreciation or development of solutions to problems, which implicitly target them. The individual presentation completed at the end of each module will also provide the opportunity to assess students’ ability to negotiate complex issues and to interpret and integrate diverse information from a variety of sources.

Subject-specific practical skills
Students should be able to demonstrate development knowledge of currents and emerging practical skills, through:

  1. the application of knowledge to practical problems, including test selection and the design of appropriate experimental protocols with due regard to safety and quality control issues.
  2. experience of IT software and searching the Biomedical Science literature
  3. comprehension and application of statistical analyses where appropriate
  4. experience of advanced or novel practical methodologies (MSc only)
  5. the organisation and execution of practical work in an extensive Research Project (MSc only)

Practical laboratory skills are not taught on the course though some observation of demonstration material and virtual laboratory simulations will be utilised, unless the final project is undertaken in the university laboratory. Problem-based exercises will require exploration of practical issues in Blood Science such as the merits of alternative diagnostic strategies, comparison of alternative methodologies and experimental design. Tutorial style case studies will also incorporate exploration of practical issues, including quality control criteria and the operation of national/international quality assurance schemes.

IT skills will be assessed by the use of in-course tests and exercises and by the depth of understanding of experimental work brought to bear in the final research module. In the MSc Research Project practical skills will be assessed by the results obtained and their contribution to the overall standard of achievement.

Key/transferable skills including employability and professional practice
Students should be able to demonstrate superior transferable skills and competencies, which support employability and professional practice, including:

  1. effective communication verbally, in writing, and via electronic means
  2. the ability to implement an advanced information search and extract relevant information
  3. the capacity for rational and balanced debate of complex biomedical issues
  4. individual initiative, organisation and the capacity for independent learning
  5. increased awareness of how changes in knowledge and technology may impact on professional practice in the subject area and require adaptability
  6. effective team working
  7. production of a 9,000 word dissertation (MSc only)

Transferable skills will be developed through discussion, practice and advice centring on tutorial work and assignments. For example, seminar presentations with visual aids such as audio supported powerpoint/poster and discursive written exercises requiring selection, integration and presentation of relevant material will be used to develop communication skills. Controversial issues, the problem of incomplete data, and changing practices, will be debated. The learning process will provide opportunities for students to develop individually and as members of a team. Parts of the course, as in life, will be problem-based and will develop students’ initiative, use of conventional and electronic information sources, and scholarship.

Transferable skills will be assessed integrally within the set assessments

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Although there are no QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) benchmark statements for Biomedical Science at Postgraduate level, course outcomes are in line with Generic QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) guidelines on Masters level qualifications.

Assessment strategy

Students will undertake a variety of assessment techniques from self-diagnostic testing, debates, group work, coursework, essays, and cumulative exams. Practical skills are summatively assessed through the coursework assignments, including those in the final Project module. Data handling skills are assessed by, practical reports, problem solving exercises, information abstracting and reviewing exercises, poster presentations, exams and seminar presentations.

Assessment is undertaken by a variety of formative and summative assessment methods, including:

  1. individual research projects;
  2. individual work on case studies;
  3. the development of public information leaflet;
  4. the development of scientific poster;
  5. assessments including quizzes that are negatively marked;
  6. the reviewing of journal articles;
  7. demonstrations and oral presentations;
  8. the compilation of workbooks;
  9. the authoring of a Personal Learning Log.

Formative assessment such as small individual assignments, formative quizzes, abstracting, report writing, and online presentations will assess the level of cognitive skills acquired by the students throughout the course. Summative assessment such as negatively marked quizzes, module long coursework (including personal learning logs) and end of course assignments will provide concrete evidence of the level that these cognitive skills have been learnt.

As students’ progress through the levels of study they will be confronted with more complex cognitive skill assessment such as research reports, project proposal, research skills and components of the final MSc project. The process of project development is facilitated by the tutors and assessed formatively and summatively.

Both formative and summative feedback is provided to the students at various and appropriate stages of their study for the module.

Among the key issues in a distance learning delivery course are authentication and plagiarism detection of student work.

In the QAA Code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education, Collaborative provision and flexible and distributed learning (including e-learning) – Amplified version October 2010, it stated: “In some FDL environments, there may be particular issues relating to the authentication of a student's work, especially when assessment is conducted on-line or remotely. As a starting point, students should at least be provided with a statement which explains the awarding institution's position on the use of unfair means and the penalties which may ensue, and requires them to confirm acceptance of the terms of that statement.”

To address these issues, each student on this course is required to electronically sign the acceptance of the “academic honesty statement” at the beginning of each module. The statement will specify the university's position on the use of unfair means and the penalties it may impose on any student misconduct.

Authenticate student identity:

  1. The authenticated copy of the students’ photo ID must be submitted to the University as part of the enrolment process.
  2. The student photographs will be made available to all online tutors to verify and confirm the identity of the students during any required oral assessments.

Authenticate student work:

  1. Regular online communication takes place between students and online tutors. This allows the tutors to not only monitor student’s performance but also identify any unusual patterns of achievement.
  2. Online viva/presentations are organised for all modules, partly to authenticate/evidence student work.
  3. A suitable plagiarism-detection tool, Turnitin (within WebLearn), will be used for all essay type coursework submission to identify and prevent plagiarism and collusion.

Enhance student retention

  1. Provide prompt pastoral supports: course leader provides academic support from the course level, and course administrator acts as the first point of contact for students for non-academic matters.
  2. Identify “at risk” students as soon as possible and provide adequate support: Module leaders will identify “at risk” students who fail to complete the given tasks or fail to make reasonable progress in any learning unit. These “at risk” students will be contacted promptly via telephone or email and appropriate support given.
  3. Maintain regular interaction between the students and tutors: Module leaders will maintain regular communication with the students throughout the module, including provide formative feedback for each learning unit and summative feedback at the end of the module.
  4. Build a strong sense of learning community: a discussion board will be set up for each module. This discussion board will enable students to build a supportive and interactive learning community.
  5. Organize regular events (tutorials via online streaming or off-line videos, best poster award, etc.) to further enhance students motivation and encourage best practice.

Course specific regulations

The course conforms to both the University’s Postgraduate Scheme and the University Academic Regulations and incorporates any requirements indicated by the Institute of Biomedical Science as part of their accreditation programme.

Modules required for interim awards

This course has a mixed core and designate structure. Students are required to take both 20-credit core modules, select appropriate optional modules to make 80 credits and take the 60-credit MSc Project module as specified in the course structure (see details in Section 27).
PGCert – 60 credits across any modules
PGDip – 120 credits across any modules (not including Research Project);
MSc – 180 credits including BM7115DL and BM7119DL plus Research Project.

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

Many students will have undertaken the process of PDP during their undergraduate career or in the workplace. At Masters level, PDP (in the form of personal learning logs) are designed to build on and enhance the skills which you have developed during your undergraduate level studies or work experience and help you to critically review your learning experiences, set your future personal and academic goals and evaluate your progress towards these goals.

PDP is designed to assist students to further develop as an independent learner, identifying strengths and weaknesses not only whilst studying at MSc level, but will be of benefit throughout their future career.

During the induction phase of the programme students will be introduced to structured reflection on their development of Postgraduate Skills which constitute much as the substance of personal development planning. Progress with Postgraduate Skills will be articulated to students as the programme progresses through feedback from tutors and peers enabling them to reflect on their progress based on the evidence available. Other activities outside of the academic aspect of university life will also contribute to aspects of Postgraduate Skills. Students will be encouraged to extend their personal portfolio to critically review their learning experiences, set their future personal and academic goals and evaluate their progress towards these goals.

Arrangements on the course for careers education, information and guidance

The resources of the Careers Service are available to all Students, who, as Postgraduates, may already be pursuing defined career goals. Students are also made aware of the advantages of IBMS membership, its careers information and the employment opportunities advertised in its publications.

Other external links providing expertise and experience

External professionals are utilised to enhance delivery and maintain currency of laboratory practice within the fields’ studies on this course. Members of academic staff come from appropriate backgrounds, ex-practitioners of biomedical science, or researchers and staff members currently conduct cutting edge research.

Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) accreditations & exemptions

All modules on this course is accredited by the IBMS.

Career opportunities

Successful completion of these modules has helped our graduates be considered for promotion at work, usually within biomedical science environments for employers such as the National Health Service (NHS).

If you have two years of relevant professional experience, you’ll also be able to apply for membership of the IBMS.

Entry requirements

You will be required to have:

  • a first or second class honours first degree (or equivalent) in biomedical or life sciences subjects (that included appropriate biomedical content), although other subjects may be considered

Lower grades, or non-degree qualifications supplemented by substantial work experience, may be considered at the interview stage.

You may be able to convert from less relevant BSc routes by undertaking study in appropriate subjects. See the Accelerated study section for more details.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2016/17 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 14 Sep 2016 Last validation date 14 Sep 2016  
JACS codes 100265 (biomedical sciences): 100%
Route code BMSTDL

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 07 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
BM7115 Bioethics, Research and Grant Proposal Core 20        
BM7119 Advanced Immunology Core 20        
BM7P20 Research Project (Biomedical Science) Core 60        
BM7100 Introduction to Haematology Option 10        
BM7101 Introduction to Immunology Option 10        
BM7102 Introduction to Transfusion and Transplantation... Option 10        
BM7103 Introduction to Clinical Biochemistry Option 10        
BM7104 Introduction to Cellular Pathology Option 10        
BM7105 Introduction to General Microbiology Option 10        
BM7106 Introduction to Medical Microbiology Option 20        
BM7107 Introduction to Clinical Immunology Option 20        
BM7108 Introduction to Molecular Biology and Genetics Option 10        
BM7109 Introduction to Clinical Genetics Option 20        
BM7110 Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology in Healt... Option 20        
BM7111 Introduction to Cell Biology Option 10        
BM7112 Introduction to Toxicology Option 10        
BM7113 Haemoglobinopathies Option 10