module specification

PR3001 - Scientific Studies (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Scientific Studies
Module level Foundation (03)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 300
64 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
236 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
In-Course Test 12%   Unseen In-class progress test 1 (30 minutes)
In-Course Test 13%   Unseen In-class progress test 2 (30 minutes)
In-Course Test 12%   Unseen In-class progress test 3 (30 minutes)
In-Course Test 13%   Unseen In-class progress test 4 (30 minutes)
Coursework 50%   Portfolio (3000 words)
Attendance Requirement 0%   Practical Attendance - 80% attendance required to pass module
Attendance Requirement 0%   Tutorial Attendance - 80% attendance required to pass module
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Wednesday Afternoon
Year (Spring and Summer) North Tuesday Afternoon
Year North Friday Morning

Module summary

This module will introduce (i) the basic mathematical concepts needed to succeed on any science degree course; (ii) basic laboratory techniques related to life science modules, designed to support and re-inforce theoretical syllabus content; (iii) study skills to prepare students for future studies. The practical section will reinforce safe practice in the laboratory environment and introduce laboratory record keeping. The mathematics section will be taught using equations relevant to biology and chemistry to encourage connections between disciplines to be made. Supporting material will be available on-line; tutorial sessions will focus on practising mathematical techniques. Formative online pre-laboratory session questions will prepare the students in advance for the practical in question. Formative exercises in the form of minitests will be carried out during tutorial sessions to reinforce the previous lecture.

Module aims

This module will enable students to consolidate their understanding of mathematics, and to increase confidence by extending their use of mathematical vocabulary, definitions and formal reasoning. The module will also give students an introduction to the laboratory environment and to simple biological and chemical procedures. Particular attention will be drawn to developing study skills, and to broadening students’ transferable skills in time management, writing and studying skills, enabling them to derive maximum benefit from their proposed courses of study. The module will also give students an introduction to the laboratory environment and to simple biological and biochemical procedures relevant to any science degree.


Operations in arithmetic including definitions signs, terms and symbols.  Accuracy in calculations, rounding numbers, the use of a calculator and its various functions within this context.  The use of scientific notation and what this represents.  An introduction to units and conversion between units will be covered.  An introduction to simple algebra will be taught within the context of the chemical and biological Sciences.

Students will take eleven 4h Practical sessions:

Introduction to the laboratory; a selection of biology / biochemistry-based practical sessions providing the student with the adequate practical skills needed to succeed in any life sciences degree; basic techniques used in the lab relating to measurement and data collection, study of osmosis, protein/or fat content in food, synthesis of aspirin, thin layer chromatography, DNA extraction, introductory microbiology, calculations of concentration and percentage yield from experimental data, graphical presentation of data, handling/manipulation of chemicals and biological materials, isolation and purification of chemicals and biomolecules, determination of elemental composition, introduction to volumetric analysis.
Use of simple laboratory equipment: coarse and accurate balances, glassware, centrifuge, light microscope, automatic pipettes.
Laboratory safety and practice. Data collection and recording: scientific style, contemporary recording of practical procedures, data and observations, discussion of and conclusions drawn from experimental data.

Time management, writing and studying skills


Learning and teaching

Acquisition of knowledge of the subject matter of this module will be promoted through lectures (30 hours), tutorials (10 hours), and practical classes (24 hours). Self managed time and private study: 236 hours.  Lectures are used to introduce the basic concepts required to achieve the learning outcomes.  Tutorial sessions  are either problem-directed or discussion-based, designed to work through, and expand on, material delivered in lectures. Students will be expected to prepare for tutorial sessions by reviewing appropriate material and devoting sometime to problem-solving exercises. Laboratory sessions will allow students to become familiar with essential laboratory techniques and with related health and safety issues.

The module is supported by a website on WebLearn which icludes a number of electronic learning aids. Students would be expected to use the site for assisted study.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Use and apply simple algebra to solve mathematical problems using a scientific calculator confidently.
2. Process and represent data in a graphical context.
3. Be aware of how to work in a laboratory environment particularly with regard to personal safety and that of others.
4. Assemble and use simple laboratory apparatus.
5. Collect, record and analyse scientific data from an experiment in an appropriate scientific style.

Assessment strategy

This module will be summatively assessed by 4 mathematics progress tests (4 x 12.5%) and a laboratory book portfolio of 8 practical datasheets (8 x 6.25%).  There will be formative exercises for the students to complete on a weekly basis during the tutorial sessions. Online pre-lab questions will be formative towards the practical to be carried out.

To pass the module students need to achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 40%. 

Component Learning outcomes
Progress test 1 1,2
Progress test 2 1,2
Progress test 3 1,2
Progress test 4 1,2
Practical portfolio  1, 2, 3, 4, 5

If a student’s attendance at practicals or tutorials falls below 80% on a module, this will result in the student failing the module.  Reassessment opportunities will not be available and instead the module will have to be retaken the following year with attendance and payment of fees. Mitigating circumstances cannot be claimed for missed classes; however Module Leaders will take account of absences that are a consequence of recorded disability or otherwise recorded as 'Authorised Absence' when applying the 80% threshold.


  • Atchia, S. (2006) Professional Studies for Biomedical Sciences and Molecular Biosciences. Pearson/Custom Publishing
  • Bax, C., Botey-Saló, P., Jacoby, J.  (2009) BM0001N Biology I and BM0002N Biology II. Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning
  • Perry, J. W.,  Morton, D.,  Perry J. B. (2007) Laboratory manual for General Biology.  5th Ed. Brooks/Cole CengageLearning 
  • Lakin, S (2010). How to improve your maths skills. Prentice Hall. [CORE]


Plus on-line material; see the WebLearn site for details.