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Undergraduate Biology 2014-2015

BI1006: BIOLOGY FOR UNDERGRADUATES (BUGS)

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

  •  Regular tutorial meetings with 3-5 other students in your degree programme and an academic make you part of the school community and allow you to develop enduring friendships with peers.
  •  Structured activities undertaken during tutorials focus on your chosen discipline and support the development of a range of research and transferrable skills.
  •  Weekly lectures during the first half-session consolidate your thinking about core content. 
  • Coursework is assigned specifically to tutorial groups and provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate your learning in relation to presentation (written and oral) and data analysis and interpretation.

BI1007: ORGANISMAL BIOLOGY

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

  • Eleven themes are explored in engaging lectures, exploring the mechanisms of life processes and introducing you to the science that underpins current understanding of biology.
  • Structured practical sessions and class activities help you to develop your study and laboratory skills, and provide you with a strong foundation for a successful transition into university study.
  • Regular assignments, a mix of online tests, practical reports and reading assignments, structure your activities and help you progress through the course material.
  • Weekly guest lectures about current research helps you to see how basic biological concepts are being applied to real world problems.

BI1511: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

This course will take you on a journey through the physical workings of the Earth, the interactions between species and their environments and then on to the effects humans are having on the planet and thoughts on the future.

Teaching by staff with different subject specialisms who give both variety and immediacy to course material.

Exposure to the problems we are facing both now and in the future which means that students can make informed choices in their everyday lives.

A range of ‘wet’ and computer-based practicals enhance the classroom teaching and develop generic scientific skills.

BI19P3: PLANT ECOLOGY AND TAXONOMY FIELD COURSE

7.5 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

The week-long residential course is based at the university’s field station in the far north of Scotland.  The location is stunning and, for many students, a new experience of unfamiliar plant communities.

You are introduced to representatives of the local flora.  We teach skills in recognising key features of plant species.

You are encouraged to consider the reasons why and where plant species are found within the northern landscape.

You will consider ways in which plants’ distributions and associations can be sampled.

Assessments are a plant ID test (50%) and making an identification key (50%).

BI2012: DIVERSITY OF LIFE - THEORY

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

  • A walk through the evolutionary tree of life, examining the amazing diversity of major groups of organisms from plants through fungi to invertebrates and vertebrates.
  • Learn about how each group of organisms arose, their characteristics, and how they achieved success.
  • Meet many enthusiastic staff; we each teach about the organisms we are expert on.
  • Take BI2013 Diversity of Life Practical too, to gain hands on experience of a wide range of organisms, including a field project recording diversity. 
  • A pass in each of three in-class tests will grant you exemption from the end of year exam.

BI2013: DIVERSITY OF LIFE - PRACTICAL

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

Practical activities provide hands-on experience of materials demonstrating the diversity of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, enhancing your understanding and observational skills. 

Improve your research skills through investigating the diversity of plants, invertebrates or birds in a field based group project, sampling in local habitats.
Prepare a scientific poster to communicate the results of your group project and participate in a class poster session.
You will get detailed feedback on practical assessments to help you develop your skills.

Take BI2012 Diversity of Life Theory too, to learn how each group of organisms arose, their characteristics, and how they achieved success.  

BI2014: DIVERSITY OF LIFE - SEMESTER 1

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

A walk through the evolutionary tree of life, examining the amazing diversity of major groups of organisms from plants through fungi to invertebrates.

Learn about how each group of organisms arose, their characteristics, and how they achieved success.

Practical activities provide hands on experience of materials demonstrating the diversity of plants and invertebrates. 

You will be assessed by a combination of laboratory reports, on which you will get detailed feedback to help you develop your skills, and a test on lecture material.

BI2017: GENES AND EVOLUTION

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

  • look at how instructions in genes are transformed by natural selection to produce the diversity of life on Earth;
  • learn how species evolve, how we determine evolutionary relationships;
  • why populations change, understand why humans (and other organisms) must carry genetic diseases;
  • meet enthusiastic staff; each teach about areas we are expert on;
  • take 3 Genes & Evolution Practicals to gain hands on experience of approaches used by researchers to map genes, estimate rates of evolution, and determine evolutionary relationships;
  • keep up to speed with in-course tests, understand basic statistics, see why mutations are not the only evolutionary currency

BI2018: BIOLOGICAL ENHANCED SKILLS TRAINING (BEST)

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

The course will help you develop and consolidate your skills in experimental design, sampling, and analysis, presentation, and interpretation of data.

In two 2-hour sessions every week you will work through a series of computer-based data or writing tasks, all centred on biological and environmental themes.

Teaching is informal and friendly. During sessions, staff and demonstrators will chat to you about your progress and provide help.

Assessments are an online multiple-choice test (33%) and an individual project (67%).

The course will help you to go as far and as fast as you can in developing important experimental skills. 

BI2019: COMMUNITY ECOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

A range of practical and workshop classes will enable you to consider information from lectures in more detail and develop ideas

A range of types of continuous assessment allow you to consolidate learning throughout the semester

An assessed essay will require consolidation of taught material across topics studied in lectures giving an overview of the subject

Detailed feedback on an assessed essay and practical assignments will help you develop essential scientific writing skills

You will use Peerwise to write multiple choice questions, requiring thorough engagement with taught material and developing an extensive set of questions for use in revision

BI20B2: PHYSIOLOGY OF HUMAN CELLS

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

  • physiology is the science of understanding life.  It allows you to explore and understand why your body does what it does and how it does it;
  • this introductory physiology course explores living processes at the level of cells and molecules;
  • the course lays down many of the fundamental concepts of physiology required to appreciate advanced study of many of the medical sciences disciplines;
  • you will gain practical experience and understanding of electrophysiological techniques required for the study of electrically excitable tissues like nerves and muscle;
  • you will also gain valuable experience in the key skill of writing formal scientific reports

BI20M3: MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE GENE

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

  • this course will provide a comprehensive understanding of how genetic information is stored, how it is accessed by the cell to form functional proteins and how the release of this information is controlled to produce a healthy human child;
  • understanding this process is essential to understanding the basis of human disease and the course will examine how genetic differences affect disease susceptibility;
  • this popular, comprehensive and cutting edge course will equip students with the essential knowledge, skills and confidence in molecular biology required to progress on all courses undertaken in the School of Medical Sciences

BI2509: CONSERVATION BIOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

Lectures, workshops and practical classes provide opportunities for consideration of key conservation issues, allowing you to discuss and develop ideas

You will visit a local nature reserve and consider some of the key management issues facing these types of site

The main written assessment provide an opportunity to study a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species of your choice in depth

You will receive detailed feedback on the essay and practical write-ups which will help you consolidate your skills in scientific writing

BI2510: PRINCIPLES OF ANIMAL PHYSIOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

Lectures by animal scientists based in SBS provide students with an understanding of how physiological systems enable animals to interact with their environment.

By exploring functional properties of living systems at different levels (i.e., cell, tissue, organ, organism) students gain a holistic understanding of animal physiology.

Practical sessions focus on biological chemistry, circulation, muscle, insect movement and osmolarity, and allow students to develop relevant lab skills.

 Through the study of vertebrate and invertebrate examples, students gain an appreciation of processes fundamental to all animals, and of differences across groups.

BI2514: DIVERSITY OF LIFE - SEMESTER 2

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

  • A walk through the evolutionary tree of life, examining the amazing diversity of advanced invertebrates and vertebrates.
  • Learn about how each group of organisms arose, their characteristics, and how they achieved success.
  • Practical activities provide hands on experience of materials demonstrating the features of fish, birds and mammals. 
  • Improve your research skills through investigating the diversity of invertebrates or birds in a field based group project, sampling in local habitats.
  • You will be assessed by a combination of laboratory reports, on which you will get detailed feedback to help you develop your skills, and a test on lecture material.

BI25B2: PHYSIOLOGY OF HUMAN ORGAN SYSTEMS

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

  • the digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and reproductive systems are covered using a variety of innovative teaching methods; 
  • you will participate in practical classes where students act as subjects and investigators. These will reinforce lecture material, develop scientific acumen and build team working skills; 
  • focussed and interactive problem solving sessions apply knowledge to clinical scenarios, and begin developing fundamental skills critically required in the final years of the degree;  
  • informal teaching sessions allow one-to-one staff-student interaction and encourage discussion in a non-threatening environment; 
  • a low stakes in-course mock exam is included to prepare you for the high stakes degree exam

BI25M5: MICROBES, INFECTION AND IMMUNITY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

  • if you were to count the number of bacteria in your gut, you might be surprised to find that you have 10 times more of them than you have cells in your body;
  • from the moment we are born, we become infested with microbial life that has an enormous impact on our lives;
  • in this course we explore the positive and negative aspects of our relationship with microbes, and how our immune system helps to maintain a fragile peace with our closest neighbours

BI25M7: ENERGY FOR LIFE

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

  • understanding the fundamental workings of cells is important to a wide range of scientific disciplines; 
  • this course integrates the key metabolic and biochemical processes that underpin human, animal and plant life in relation to health and disease; 
  • this core knowledge prepares you for more advanced study in all areas of life sciences and has wide ranging applications; 
  • you will also participate in an award winning practical series focussed on drug discovery which will build essential employability skills in experimental design, data analysis and practical laboratory skills

BI25P3: BIOLOGICAL TOPICS IN PLANT AND SOIL SCIENCE

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

Unique and popular modular structure where six academics deliver six topics using a mixture of plenary lectures on a subject of cutting edge research of their choice, background science lectures, practicals, interactive session (e.g. group discussions) and quizzes.  

As well as covering topical research issues, you will acquire fundamental biology knowledge and skills helping you to understand how plants and soil microbes grow and interact in soils.

There will be five practicals which contribute 50% of the course mark, and an exam of short, structured questions.

BI25Z4: OCEAN BIOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

A combination of three  lectures per weeks and six fortnightly practical classes covering a broad range of topics in marine biology.

The course is taught by a range of lecturers who specialise in a wide variety of research areas.

One written essay from a wide choice of topics to demonstrate ability for critical thinking and research skills.

Specialised lectures on essay writing skills, both pre- and post-essay coursework, are provided to enhance writing skills.

BI2901: MEDITERRANEAN ECOSYSTEMS FIELD COURSE

7.5 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

‘Mediterranean’ ecosystems have unique characteristics, with many endemic species.

This is a 9-day field course in Catalonia, Spain, during Weeks 39, 40 (part of the Easter vacation). Cost, excluding flights, is likely to be around £480. 

You will use rapid ecosystem assessment (REA) to generate questions and answers about some important Mediterranean ecosystems. You will talk with locally-based biologists and environmental scientists.

The course will help you learn skills in REA, which will allow you to develop a fast, detailed understanding of unfamiliar ecosystems and their species.

Assessment is a group presentation (20%) and individual report (80%).

BI29Z3: ZOOLOGY FIELD COURSE

7.5 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

  • Residential field courses designed to provide you with training in field identification and sampling techniques.
  •  Choice from four locations that include the Shetland Islands, Cromarty and the Ythan Estuary, Malham Tarn Field Centre and Kindrogen Field Centre, themes are Fish and Shellfish, Coastal Biodiversity, Freshwater and Terrestrial Ecology and Parasitology.
  •  Group based project work provides skills in team working, data collection, analysis and presentation.
  •  Hard work throughout the days is rewarded through the development of deep understanding and the enjoyment of spending time with peers and staff. 




BI3008: WORK EXPERIENCE

15 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

Students enrolled in level 2/3 of the BSc Wildlife Management degree programme undertake six weeks of work experience relevant to the degree.

Regular contact with the course coordinator and the maintenance of a diary of activities provides a framework for reflecting on the experience. 

Preparation of a final report helps to consolidate learning and relate experiences to the business and scientific theory  studied in university-based courses.

Students will achieve a better understanding of the practical and commercial aspects of employment in the industry.

BI3010: STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF BIOLOGICAL DATA

15 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

In a series of cases studies, you will learn how to analyse and interpret biological data to a level which will allow you to design, at least, the first stages of your level 4 honours project.

You will also choose from4-6 topics in advanced data handling techniques also pertinent to level 4 honours projects.

The course is intensive but allows you to work largely at your own pace with considerable assistance from 3-4 staff and 5-6 demonstrators.

Case studies are all derived from past BSc and MSc research projects giving a good insight to the range of project types available.

BI3504: SUSTAINABLE RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Six themes that examine how theories related to sustainability are translated into practice are explored through structured in-class activities that challenge you to consider problems and evidence from different perspectives. 

Case studies from tropical forestry, agriculture and biofuels increase your understanding of the complexity of resource management decisions and your awareness of ethical and moral issues embedded in problems that are often framed as scientific or technical. 

Feedback from four short discussion essays will help you to improve your writing skills.

Weekly student-led discussions develop your capacity for attentive exchange, informed argument and reasoning, and skills in facilitating discussion

BI3505: BEHAVIOURAL BIOLOGY

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Fundamental concepts of animal behaviour are introduced through a series of lectures and practicals, essential knowledge for those interested in better understanding animal behaviour as well as potentially undertaking an animal behaviour Honours project.
During the practicals students are encouraged to reflect on the theoretical knowledge learned during the lectures and apply that in explaining the observed behaviour of animals.
Students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of animal behaviour by producing an innovative multimedia presentation on the observed behaviour of a species of their choice

BI3506: CONSERVATION IN PRACTICE

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Interactive course that explores key underlying principles in conservation and the challenges of applying those in the real world. 

Field excursion to important protected area to learn about the practical issues of protecting biodiversity.

Guest lecturers from key figures in Scottish conservation and other relevant disciplines to give you insight into career choices and alternative perspectives. 

You will produce a poster and a project proposal and get feedback for improving your presentation and writing skills.

BI3801: PLANT-ANIMAL INTERACTIONS

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

The course sets plant animal interactions in an evolutionary context with a focus on recent research findings in the primary literature. 

Guest speakers from the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen are used throughout the course to ensure the course content includes case studies of application of plant animal interactions research to land management.

You will write an Opinion Piece assignment and have access to detailed feedback to improve your writing and presentation skills.

A interactive workshop based around a current topic in plant animal interactions research will enhance your enquiry and debating skills

BI3805: ANIMALS IN CAPTIVITY

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Through lectures and seminars we consider the physiology, development and nutrition of domestic, companion and exhibition animals in relation to animal husbandry and care.

Students apply their learning in biology and zoology to the improvement of management practices and to the enhancement of animal welfare.

By researching and presenting a seminar on a topic on welfare issues related to factory farming, students gain knowledge and skills in group working and oral communication.

Through an essay assignment focused on a hypothetical Universal Declaration of Animal Rights, students develop critical thinking skills and build experience in constructing and evidencing an argument

BI3901: CONSERVATION ISSUES IN SCOTLAND - FIELD TRIP

7.5 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Week long field course around Scotland to explore and gain first-hand experience of key conservation issues. 

Meet key professionals working on these issues and gain insight into approaches and career options.

Guest lecturers from key figures in Scottish conservation to provide insight into different perspectives. 

Discuss and debate conservation practise to consider alternative arguments and gain debating skills. 

BI39Z3: SUB-TROPICAL MARINE AND FRESHWATER HABITATS

7.5 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

  • An overseas field course delivered in northwest Florida during one week of the Easter holidays.
  •  Local experts guide you through the range of habitats and ecosystems found on the Florida coast.
  •  Visits include seagrass meadows, an estuary reserve, energy coasts, freshwater springs and sand dunes and provide an overview of what structures the ecosystems and an awareness of the impacts of human activities on coastal systems.
  •  Structured sampling activities strengthen your skills in recording data, keeping a field notebook and analyzing information to compare and contrast ecosystems.

BI4015: GRANT PROPOSAL

15 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

Under the supervision of an academic, you develop a research proposal suitable for submission to a funding organization.

The exercise of defining a researchable question, outlining the methodology, determining the required budget and writing an argument as to why the research should be funded provides excellent training for students interested in pursuing a career in science. 

During regular meetings with your supervisor you develop your skills in record keeping, oral communication, and critical appraisal. 

From feedback on your draft proposal you will gain experience in refining a written argument and in presenting documents professionally.

BI4016: SBS HONOURS PROJECT (SEMESTER 1)

45 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This 12 week, independent research project develops your skills in scientific inquiry and critical analysis, as well as useful generic skills, including time management.

Projects are field-, lab- and/or desk-based, developed on a topic of your interest under the direction of a supervisor. 

Training in the skills needed to perform your project is provided by world-leading researchers and their teams.

Workshops and drop-in sessions provide training in data analysing and thesis production.

This skill set will be useful both for future careers and further study in the field of biological science or other careers making use of these generic skills.

BI4017: SBS HONOURS ESSAY (SEMESTER 1)

15 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

You research a topic and write an extended essay, developing specialist knowledge and refining your synthesis and evaluation skills.

You choose your topic from a list that includes fundamental and cutting-edge issues, providing you with flexibility and an opportunity to pursue your interests.

An introductory workshop reminds you of good practice in writing an extended essay and a meeting with your essay supervisor provides you with feedback on your essay plan.

Feedback from peer review of a draft essay allows you to gain comments from your peers, but also helps you to understand the criteria used for marking essays.

BI4301: ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION

15 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course provides a foundation in understanding and managing environmental pollution.

Divided into contaminated land, waste, air, freshwater and marine pollution, each week the subject, legislative and regulatory context, site investigation and appraisal, and management are introduced.

Guest speakers from industry join the course each week (from Remedios, SEPA, ACC) giving you access to the reality of the role and important contact with practioners.

Each theme also has an associated practical element to provide hands on experience in techniques in environmental pollution, providing you with a grounding in the assessment and management of environmental pollutants.

BI4504: CURRENT ISSUES IN BIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

15 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Weekly seminars and tutorials help you define important issues in biology.

Group presentation (oral) of a research proposal on a topic of your choice, as well as an individual concept note (written), provide you with training in how to convince funders of the uniqueness and viability of your proposal.

Group discussion of ‘crazy’ versus ‘good’ ideas and the challenges of bioethics promote an awareness of ‘facts and fashions’ in biology.

Discussion with top scientists encourages you to think critically of how scientific research is approved, funded and carried out.

BI4517: SBS HONOURS ESSAY (SEMESTER 2)

15 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

You research a topic and write an extended essay, developing specialist knowledge and refining your synthesis and evaluation skills.

You choose your topic from a list that includes fundamental and cutting-edge issues, providing you with flexibility and an opportunity to pursue your interests.

An introductory workshop reminds you of good practice in writing an extended essay and a meeting with your essay supervisor provides you with feedback on your essay plan.

Feedback from peer review of a draft essay allows you to gain comments from your peers, but also helps you to understand the criteria used for marking essays.

BI4802: TOPICS IN CONSERVATION BIOLOGY

15 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Interactive course that allows you to explore in depth one topic that dominates current discourses in conservation. 

You will write an essay, and give a science presentations to develop critical writing and presentation skills for a scientific audience.

You will give a creative presentation to develop skills in getting your message across to a general audience

BI4803: ECOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL MODELLING

15 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Introduction to techniques used in environmental and ecological modelling.

Main course materials in two parts; model development and model evaluation.

Hands on practice in model development and evaluation in two 4 hour computer classes.

Guest lectures from people using modelling in research in a range of different areas in biology.

Course assessment is based on the write up of the two practical sessions and a final course essay on a modelling topic selected by each student.

The course provides students with the key skills required for environmental and ecological modelling.

BI5002: RESEARCH PROJECT FOR MSCI BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

80 credits

Level 5

First Sub Session

Under the supervision of an academic you conduct independent research and produce a thesis in the form of a peer-reviewed manuscript.

This project develops your skills in scientific inquiry and critical analysis, as well as useful generic skills, including time management.

Projects are field-, lab- and/or desk-based, developed on a topic of your interest under the direction of a supervisor. 

This skill set will be useful both for future careers and further study in the field of biological science or other careers making use of these generic skills.

BI5003: PUBLIC COMMUNICATION OF SCIENCE

15 credits

Level 5

First Sub Session

In tutorials you will consider a variety of methods for communicating science to the public and will develop an appreciation of the strengths and limitations of different methods.

By producing a document for a non-scientific audience you will gain skills in communicating complex ideas in clear and simple language.

During peer-review sessions you will gain experience in evaluating communication documents and in providing critical and constructive comments.

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