module specification

BM7P38 - Research Project for Medical Genetics (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18, but may be subject to modification
Module title Research Project for Medical Genetics
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 60
School Faculty of Life Sciences and Computing
Total study hours 600
528 hours Guided independent study
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Interim report
Oral Examination 20%   Viva voce *FC*
Dissertation 60%   Dissertation
Running in 2017/18 No instances running in the year

Module summary

Module code: BM7P38
This module provides an opportunity for student-lead problem solving applying knowledge acquired to a specific research question.

Prior learning requirements

Prerequisite: MSP001N Scientific Frameworks for Research.

Module aims

The module aims to provide students with the opportunity to:
• apply and develop previously acquired knowledge and lab skills to a medical genetics research problem;
•  undertake, critically evaluate, reflect, and report on, an individual experimental programme.


Competence to undertake independent research will be developed as follows:

Theoretical research
Advanced information searching, interpretation and abstraction skills will be applied in the production of a theoretical framework

Practical work:
Experimental skills will be applied in the design and execution of a laboratory, field or survey based research programme. Analytical and evaluative skills will be applied to data appraisal and contextualisation

Communication of results
Written presentation skills will be applied in the production of the project report. Oral presentation skills will be applied in the defence of the work undertaken.

Learning and teaching

This module will require the student to self-direct and manage their own independent learning experience. The area of research will be matched, as far as is possible with the research interest, expertise and existing research projects of the supervisor.  Research topics will be identified during the earlier part of the course through formal discussions in tutorials between the students, the Module convenor and a supervisor who has suitable research interests.  The supervisor may be a member of academic teaching or research staff within the University, and may jointly supervise with someone from outside in appropriate organisations.  Students can also carry out projects in other institutions, or at their workplace, subject to approval of the Module Convenor.

Topics will be chosen that give the opportunity for high-level research that advances the boundaries of current knowledge but gives the student a realistic opportunity of completion. The module will be delivered through a combination of direct contact, feedback tutorials and workshop sessions (50 hours), with project supervision (10 hours) and self-directed study (540 hours).

Upon arrangement by the student, the project supervisor will initially assist in the following processes:
1. clarifying the terms of the research project
2. establishing a timetable for the research and dates for subsequent student/supervisor   meetings
3. directed background reading
4. study design, methodology, health and safety, ethical and genetically modified organism approval (where appropriate) and statistical analysis

Supervisory support will form a key part of the teaching method, but ultimately, most of the learning will be student-centred. Supervisor meetings will continue periodically through the project.  A typical amount of contact time the student can expect is up to 15 hours with the supervisor. Comments on the draft of the dissertation can be expected.

Students will work as individuals on the design and execution of their projects. They will be encouraged to think critically about their findings and, where appropriate, to provide solutions through the design of related experiments or alternative approaches to research.

PDP: students complete a ‘personal statement’, the style of which would be appropriate to a job application and address questions such as - Where do you see yourself in 5-years time? What are your goals? What skills do you have to expand to meet these? What skills have you developed during the research project?

Learning outcomes

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

1. establish an original hypothesis within a medical genetics context, based on a thorough understanding of current primary literature, that is realistic and testable within the constraints of resources available;
2. design and execute within the time constraints of the project, a series of related scientific experiments to test the hypothesis;
3. work safely with due regard to the appropriate Codes of Practice;
4. analyse, evaluate and appraise the results obtained, where appropriate using statistical tests at an advanced level of competency;
5. contextualise the discussion and conclusions of the project within the wider context of biomedical sciences research;
6. demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the role of research in the academic and professional development of the discipline and the function of professional bodies;
7.     write a detailed report in an appropriate scientific form with the correct use of English and defend it during an oral interview.

Assessment strategy

The assessment comprises the production of an interim report and the final research dissertation, and an oral examination.

The interim report should follow a standard structure and provide for example an evaluation and appraisal of the relevant literature, a rationale for the research, together with the aims of proposed research, methodology, results obtained after 6 weeks in the laboratory, discussion of the results, conclusion and further work with justification. It should be 3,000 words in length.

The required length of the dissertation is 9,000 words exclusive of title page, contents, figures, tables, bibliography and appendices. The content should be of sufficient depth to be appropriate for a Masters level award, but broad enough to demonstrate an informed overview of the subject area. The structure of the dissertation will depend upon the nature of the research. Details will be included in the dissertation Module booklet.

To pass the module students must attempt all assessments and achieve an overall minimum aggregate mark of 50%. Failure to submit reports or attend the viva may lead to a fail in this module.

Component   Learning outcomes

Interim Report 1, 2, 3, 4
Dissertation    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Viva               1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7


In addition to the following texts, primary sources (e.g. research papers, review articles and Internet pages) appropriate to the research topic will be utilised. Students will also be referred to sources used in MSP001N Scientific Framework for Research.

Barnard, C., Gilbert, F. and McGregor, P. (2007). Asking questions in biology: a guide to hypothesis testing, analysis and presentation in practical work and research. Harlow: Pearson Education.

Boyer, R. (2006). Biochemistry Laboratory: Modern Theories and Techniques. Benjamin Cummings.

Brown, T.A. (2006).  Gene cloning and DNA analysis: an introduction.  Oxford: Blackwell.

Cappucino, J.G. and Sherman, N. (2011). Microbiology: a laboratory manual (9th edition).  Benjamin Cummings.

Cann, A.J. (2003). Maths from scratch for biologists. Wiley.

Cargill, M. and O'Connor, P.  (2009). Writing scientific research articles: strategy and steps. Wiley-Blackwell.

Davis, M. (2005). Scientific Papers and Presentations (revised edition). Academic Press.

Hughes, S. and Moody, A. (eds) (2007). PCR (Methods Express). Bloxham: Scion Publishing.

Jones A., Reed R., and Weyers J. (2007).  Practical Skills in Biology (4th edition). Pearson; Benjamin Cummins.

Petrie, A. and Sabin, C. (2009).  Medical statistics at a glance (3rd edition). Wiley-Blackwell.

Reed, R., Holmes, D., Weyers, J. and Jones, A., (2007). Practical Skills in Biomolecular Sciences (3rd edition). Harlow: Prentice Hall.

Ruxton, G.D., and Colgrave, N. (2006).  Experimental Design for the Life Sciences (2nd edition). Oxford University Press.

Sambrook, J. and Russell, D.W. (2001).  Molecular cloning: a laboratory manual (3rd edition). Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory Press.

Wilson, K. and Walker, J. (eds) (2009). Principles and Techniques of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (7th edition). Cambridge University Press.