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Undergraduate Biology 2018-2019

BI1009: FRONTIERS IN BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

Eleven themes, critical to our understanding of the living world are explored in engaging lectures. Some topics explore evolutionary innovations, others the resilience of life. Throughout the course, we introduce the science that underpins current understanding of biology.

Practical sessions and activities develop your study and laboratory skills, and provide a foundation for a successful transition into university study.

Regular assignments, 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 applied to real world problems.

 

BI1012: DIVERSITY OF LIFE 1

15 credits

Level 1

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 short online pre-lab tests to help you prepare for practicals, laboratory reports, on which you will get detailed feedback to help you develop your skills, and an exam.

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, potential solutions and thoughts on the future.

Teaching is 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 will help you make informed choices in their everyday lives.

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

BI1512: DIVERSITY OF LIFE 2

15 credits

Level 1

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 amphibians, fish, birds and mammals. 
  • You will be assessed by a combination of laboratory reports, on which you will get detailed feedback to help you develop your skills, and an exam.

BI19P5: PLANTS AND THEIR HABITATS IN NORTHERN SCOTLAND

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

The week-long residential course is based at the University’s Bettyhill 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 and how to identify them.

You are encouraged to consider the reasons why and where plant species are found within the northern landscape and how plant communities can be sampled.

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 consolidate and develop skills in experimental design, sampling, analysis, presentation, and interpretation of data. You will be encouraged to seek to improve your academic writing and develop other transferable skills.

Each week, there is one 1-hour introductory lecture.  In two 2-hour sessions when will work through a series of computer-based data tasks, using relevant and realistic biological and environmental themes.

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

Assessments are two online multiple-choice tests (each 25%) and an individual project (50%).

BI2020: 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.

Weekly opportunities to practice writing skills needed for the exam and regular feedback provided on writing exercises.

Detailed feedback on 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 science 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

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 provides 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 and writing for a more general audience.

BI2510: PRINCIPLES OF ANIMAL PHYSIOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

Physiology is the study of the normal functions of living systems.  This course will introduce you to the basics of invertebrate and vertebrate physiology.

Lectures will guide you through the various body systems and their interactions that maintain homeostasis in animals.  Associated practicals allow you to explore particular systems in further detail and to develop relevant lab skills.

Through the study of examples from across different phyla, you will gain an appreciation of processes fundamental to all animals, and of differences across groups.

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 counted the bacteria in your gut, you might be surprised to find that you have 10 times more than you have cells in your body;

  • The moment we are born, we become colonised with beneficial microbial life, the start of a relationship that impacts upon our health and well-being

  • Pathogenic microbes represent an important health threat requiring an understanding both of infection and technology that we use to protect us.

  • This course explores 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

BI25P4: PLANTS, PEOPLE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

A course in which several researchers explore both core and emerging issues in the plant sciences, focusing in particular on the inter-dependence of plants, people and environment.  Students are encouraged to develop a range of important generic and applied skills, through lectures, practicals and seminars. Two practicals and one seminar contribute 50% of the course mark. An exam contributes 50% of the overall course grade and consists a choice of multiple-choice questions and short, structured questions.

BI25Z4: OCEAN BIOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

The fundamentals of marine biology are introduced by surveying life in the oceans and associated marine environments. The word ‘ocean’ is interpreted in its widest sense, to include the open oceans and deep sea, as well as shelf seas, coastal waters, shores and estuaries.

Lectures inform you about structure and functioning of different marine ecosystems, adaptations of marine organisms for their particular living conditions, and delving into certain specific aspects of life in the sea.

Coursework and associated briefings develop skills in marine biological research methods, data analysis, reading scientific articles, critical thinking, and scientific writing. 

BI2902: FISH AND SHELLFISH BIOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

Residential field course designed to provide you with training in ship-based applied marine biology and analysis of collected data. Trips to fish/shellfish farms and to see local seabirds are highlighted extras.

Group based project work provides skills in team working, data analysis and presentation.

Hard work throughout the days is rewarded through the development of deeper understanding and the enjoyment of spending time with peers and staff in a wonderful environment. 

BI2903: PARASITOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

Residential field course designed to provide you with training in field identification and sampling techniques.

Field work provide opportunities to observe, identify and collect host and intermediate host species in an ecologically rich area of Highland Perthshire.

Lab work provides for the exploration and discovery of parasites in the context of the anatomy and physiology of vertebrate and invertebrate hosts.

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.

BI2904: COASTAL BIODIVERSITY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

Residential field course designed to provide you with training in field identification and sampling techniques in Cromarty or Millport.

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. 

BI2905: FRESHWATER AND TERRESTRIAL ECOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

Residential field courses designed to provide you with training in field identification and sampling techniques based in Loch Lomond.

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. 

BI3010: STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF BIOLOGICAL DATA

15 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

Review of basics of probability theory, data exploration and analysis using the linear modelling framework; depending on the option taken - fundamentals of using geographic information systems (GIS); bioinformatics and their application; statistical computing with R; capturing data; experimental design.

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.

BI3507: SOCIETY AND ENVIRONMENT

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

You will be trained in broad environmental thinking required to understand the complex nature of contemporary environmental problems. The main purpose of the course is to work towards a sufficiently deep understanding of society's relationship with the environment to appraise and start to address so-called wicked (i.e. impossible to fully comprehend, insoluble and chaotic) problems.


The course will follow a textbook to allow immersion in the author's ways of thinking. During the first three weeks, key aspects of human-environment relationships will be developed through lectures and subsequent discussion. During the last two weeks, students will be engaged in the co-production of knowledge by preparing and presenting worked out case studies themselves as starting point for debate on focal 'objects of concern (e.g. the return of the wolf, uranium in society, e-waste).

BI3806: CONSERVATION IN PRACTICE

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

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

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

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

You will produce a grant proposal on a research topic relevant to the field visit site; a tutorial during preparation of the proposal will provide feedback to help you improve your research plan and an evaluation of your peers' proposal will reinforce your understanding of good research project planning.

BI3809: LIFE HISTORY EVOLUTION

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

The course will give you generic knowledge on life history theories and trade-offs.

The different life history concepts presented in this course will be illustrated using world leading research studies covering the whole spectrum of life, from bacteria to fungi and plants to animals.

Directed learning will give you the opportunity to move from theory to practice. You will use tutorials to learn how, for example, to explore and describe trait variability, compute heritability estimates, or measure selection coefficients.

BI3810: FIELD SKILLS IN ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Weekly field trips will provide opportunities to observe wildlife and develop an understanding of the adaptive value of animal behaviour.

Tasks involving the design of simple experiments to address cause and function of animal behaviour will develop skills in experimental design and hypothesis testing. 

Training in the use of a field notebook allows students to demonstrate competence in record keeping.

Written report and oral presentation on a field based experiment supports the develop of communication skills.

Short weekly lectures will reinforce concepts, outline expectations and provide a framework for the practical work in the field.

BI3902: CONSERVATION ISSUES IN SCOTLAND - FIELD TRIP

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Week long field course based around Deeside and Speyside 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 speakers from key organisations in Scottish conservation to provide insight into different perspectives. 

Opportunities to discuss and debate conservation practice, consider alternative arguments and gain debating skills. 

BI3903: MEDITERRANEAN TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS FIELD COURSE

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

‘Mediterranean’ ecosystems have unique characteristics, with many endemic species. This is an 8-day field course in Catalonia, Spain. The course will run during 5th - 13th June 2019 inclusive. Cost, excluding flights, is likely to be about £420.

Field work will be in three contrasting Natural Parks. You will use observation, discussion, and group projects to understand each ecosystem more fully. You will talk with locally-based biologists.

The course will help you learn skills in developing a fast, detailed understanding of unfamiliar ecosystems and their species, and to record observations in a field notebook.

BI39Z5: MEDITERRANEAN MARINE BIOLOGY FIELD COURSE

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

  • &nbsp      Students gain practical skills in qualitative and quantitative surveys, and the identification of marine plants, algae, fish and invertebrates.

    &middot &nbsp         Understanding of shallow-water and coastal marine biodiversity is enhanced by hands-on activities in the field and lab.

    &middot &nbsp         There is also an element of Mediterranean fisheries biology and the marine environmental impacts of fisheries.

    &middot &nbsp         Students gain confidence, build team-working and problem-solving skills by participating in this residential field course.

    &middot &nbsp         The international context of the course fosters foreign language skills and an increased awareness of cultural diversity.

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, 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 the course coordinators 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 independent research project develops your skills in scientific inquiry and critical analysis, as well as important generic skills, including presentation and 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 skills needed to perform your project is provided by world-leading researchers and their teams.

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

This skill set will be appropriate for advanced study in the field of biological science or other careers where the generic skills that you will develop are highly valued.

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. You also have the opportunity to submit a draft essay for comments from your essay supervisor.

BI4019: BIOLOGISTS' SCHOOLS AMBASSADOR SCHEME

15 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

An opportunity to gain first-hand experience in communicating biological sciences to young people in a school setting

A chance to develop classroom skills, supervised and encouraged by experienced school teachers.

Course grades are derived from four activity areas: planning and exploration, group discussion, teacher evaluation, end-of-course report and reflection.

Accumulate a set of transferable professional experience and skills that are likely to enhance employability.

BI4026: MEET THE SCIENTIST - RESEARCH SEMINARS IN SBS

15 credits

Level 4

Full Year

Through regular engagement with the SBS Research Seminar Programme you will increase your appreciation of the diversity of research methologies, thinking, presentation and discussion styles present in the biological and environmental sciences.

By preparing for a meeting with an experienced, visiting scientist you will gain skills in formulating effective interview questions and in structuring a discussion.

Through structured reading you will develop a deeper understanding of two chosen topics and apply this understanding to the seminar's content and the interview with the visiting scientist.

By writing brief reports for dissemination on appropriate social media outlets you will sharpen your writing skills and strengthen your public communication skills.

BI4027: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE WORKPLACE

15 credits

Level 4

Full Year

By participating in on-campus workshops and completing a range of reflective assessments, students gain professional development and enhance their employability.

Students engage in external, work-related activities in placements that they secure, typically over the summer months but it can be during the academic year, as well.

External engagement activities require the approval from the student’s academic School.

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 practitioners.

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

Current issues in biological and environmental sciences will be discussed in weekly seminars. Student-led group presentations will enable students to critically examine ecologically or environmentally-relevant topics of their choice, and also discuss the wider societal scientific and societal ramifications of these issues with their peers. Students will have the opportunity to develop their analytical and science communication skills through a debate, written policy brief (modelled on the UK Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology’s “POSTnotes”) and an individually-produced short film.

BI4515: GRANT PROPOSAL - SEMESTER 2

15 credits

Level 4

Second 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, 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 the course coordinators 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.

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. You also have the opportunity to submit a draft essay for comments from your essay supervisor.

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 presentation to develop critical writing and presentation skills for a scientific audience.

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

BI5002: RESEARCH PROJECT FOR MSCI BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

75 credits

Level 5

Full Year

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.

BI5004: PUBLIC COMMUNICATION OF SCIENCE

15 credits

Level 5

Full Year

Students will write a scientific document and a document aimed at a public audience and present their work to a mixed audience of specialists and non-specialists. Students will submit their public written document for publication. Skills in communicating complex ideas in clear and simple language will be developed. Students will also take advantage through the academic year of opportunities to communicate science to a public audience e.g. in radio and TV interviews and at science festivals – these will be assessed formatively.

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

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