At the School of Biological Sciences, we are very much looking forward to you joining us in September. Following Scottish Government guidance, we expect our campus to be open. Safety is our primary concern and the University is working hard on variety of measures to safeguard your welfare.

Below you will find details of orientation, reading lists and other blended learning information for School of Biological Sciences students to help you start your student journey with us.

Undergraduate

Orientation

We expect our campuses to be open in September, and we will work hard to keep everyone safe. There will be opportunities for you to meet or e-meet other students and key staff, such as your personal tutor. As Scottish Government restrictions ease, more campus services and student activities will resume. 

The University of Aberdeen Orientation programme has been designed to take you through all of the essential information you will need for your student life. We have broken it down into 2 parts.  You should get started on Part 1 now by working through the interactive modules.

In SBS, we will supplement the University's Orientation programme, details will be available later in August. 

Blended Learning

We are planning for a blended model for our teaching, which means that some of our teaching will be online and some will be on campus.  This will be new for us but we are working hard to take advantage of this new approach to enhance our teaching. We are confident that we will provide you with a high quality experience.

We anticipate that some of our returning students will not be able to travel back to Aberdeen due to travel restrictions, and that others may not be comfortable attending on campus classes because they are shielding or have other concerns.  For that reason, we are ensuring that all of our courses can be completed entirely online.  We are building in sessions where students who are studying online can interact with staff and other students so that the learning experience is rewarding and motivating.

We also anticipate that many of our UK-based students will choose to return to Aberdeen and will want to have opportunities to be on campus for their studies.  We are not yet clear how much of our teaching we will be able to deliver on campus because of the uncertainty over what physical distances will be required by the government, how many students we can safely teach in our classrooms and teaching labs at one time, and how many students may choose to be on campus.  Nevertheless, we are building a timetable that will allow all students high quality teaching and learning experiences on campus.

In SBS, we are prioritising practical teaching and small group tutorials for campus-based students.  We plan to provide the majority of our lectures online and pre-recorded so that they can be accessed in a flexible way.  For courses that have traditionally been primarily delivered in a lecture format, we are building in interactive components so that students can ask questions, work with their peers.

 

Reading Lists

Reading lists for individual courses will be available through MyAberdeen later in the summer. In the meantime, you can brush up your study skills and learn more about the University at our award-winning Toolkit website.

Some specific suggestions for readings are as follows: 

Level 2

(For BI2020 Ecology) Schilthuizen, M (2008) The Loom of Life:  Unravelling Ecosystems.  Springer-Verlap, Berlin

(For BI2017 Genes and Evolution) Carey N (2012) The Epigenetics Revolution:  How Modern Biology is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance.

Level 3

(Animal Behaviour, Behavioural Biology) Budiansky, B (1999) The Convenant of the Wild:  Why Animals Chose Domestication.  Yale University Press. 

(Zoology, Biology, Biological Sciences, Ecology, Conservation Biology) Coyne, J (2010) Why Evolution is True.  Oxford University Press, Oxford.  (For ZO3011 Animal Evolution and Biodiversity)

(Marine Biology) Kaiser, M.J., et al. (2011) Marine Ecology: processes, systems, and impacts. 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (For ZO3306 Marine Ecology and Ecosystems)

(Environmental Science) Blume, H.P. et al. (2016). Soil Science. Berlin: Springer Verlag. (For EV3001 Global Soil Geography)

(Plant and Soil Science) Gregory, P.J. and Nortcliff, S. 2013. Soil Conditions and Plant Growth. Wiley-Blackwell, 472 pp. SBN: 1405197706 (Pl3009 Soils for Food Security)

Level 4

Your project supervisor can provide you with suggestions.

Assessment

In SBS for the first half-session, the majority of assessments will be through coursework although some courses will include online tests as part of the assessments.  A very few courses will have an end of course exam but these exams will be open-book with some flexibility over when they need to be completed, similar to how the exams ran in the May exam diet.

Practicals, fieldwork and placements

Practicals

For practicals, we expect to run them but expect that we will need to have fewer students in the teaching labs at a time, so it may be that we need to reduce the duration from 3h to 2h to be able to run enough repeats to allow all of the students who are on campus the opportunity.  If the restrictions are maintained at 2m instead of 1m, we will need to prioritize which practicals we offer on campus.  We will provide online alternatives for students who are not able to be on campus.  If we are not able to deliver the core practical skills in the first half-session, we will endeavour to build them into core courses in the second half-session so that you don’t miss out.

Field trips

At this point there is some uncertainty about what the institution will allow for field trips but in SBS we are expecting that we will be able to run field trips as part of our courses in the first half-session if government restrictions allow and we can effectively mitigate risk.  It may be that we need to limit the number of students on coaches and run repeat trips to have enough capacity for all of the students in a class who are in Aberdeen.

Honours projects – lab-based projects

It looks very unlikely that we will be able to have any lab-based Honours projects this year.  With the physical distancing requirements, our research lab capacity is very low and we need to get our PhD students, Post-doc researchers and Early Career researchers back into the research labs so that they can restart their research programmes.  Supervisors of lab-based projects have been asked to consider if they are able to offer their students a desk-based alternative and to sketch out the plan for those alternatives.  We have a number of new academic staff who have added desk-based project titles to the list of available projects.  Once the list has been fully updated and the supervisors of lab-based projects have had time to consider alternative projects, a message will go out to all of the students entering level 4 in September with an update.  Please be patient with us as we adapt our plans.  If you have a lab-based project lined up for September, your supervisor will be in contact soon but you can also check in with them to ask for an update.

Honours projects – field-based projects

We are hoping that students will be able to do field work for their projects but we are waiting for further guidance to be issued by the government and the institution.  As soon as we are able to update you on this we will.

Honours projects – desk-based projects

If you are completing a desk-based project you will not need to be in Aberdeen to attend supervisory meetings; these meetings can be held online.  However, if you are in Aberdeen and physical distancing rules allow, and your supervisor is able to be on campus, you may be able to hold face to face supervisory meetings.

MSci projects

It may be that by the second half-sessions, we have greater capacity in our research labs and that may allow MSci students in year 5 to pursue lab-based projects.  At this point in time it is difficult to say.  It may be worth consulting with your project supervisor, John Baird or Sam Martin for an update in early September.

Postgraduate Taught

Orientation

We expect our campus to be open in September, and we will work hard to keep everyone safe. Whether you are studying with us online or on campus, there will be regular opportunities for you to meet other students and key staff, such as your Programme Coordinator, Course Coordinators and lecturers. As Scottish Government restrictions ease, more campus services and student activities will resume. As this happens, we will always ensure that online students are provided with equivalent opportunities for engagement.  

The University of Aberdeen Orientation programme has been designed to take you through all of the essential information you will need for your student life. We have broken it down into 2 parts.  You should get started on Part 1 now by working through the interactive modules.

We very much look forward to meeting you and getting to know you, individually and as a group, both on campus and online.  

Blended learning

We are planning for a blended model for our teaching, which means that some of our teaching will be online and some will be on campus.  This will be new for us but we are working hard to take advantage of this new approach to enhance our teaching. We are confident that we will provide you with a high quality experience. 

We anticipate that some of our students will not be able to travel to Aberdeen for the beginning of the semester due to travel restrictions, and that others may not be comfortable attending on campus classes because they are shielding or have other concerns (although they will be welcome to join us on campus whenever they are able).  For that reason, we are ensuring that all of our courses can be completed entirely online.  We are building in sessions where students who are studying online can interact with staff and other students so that the learning experience is rewarding and motivating. 

We also anticipate that many students will choose to come to Aberdeen and will want to have opportunities to be on campus for their studies.  There is still uncertainty over what physical distances will be required by the government, how many students we can safely teach in our classrooms and labs at one time, and how many students may choose to be on campus.  Nevertheless, we are building a timetable that will allow all students high quality, in-person, teaching and learning experiences on campus. In the first semester of the 2020/21 academic year our priority will be to hold tutorials and practicals on campus, and to provide local field trips. Equivalent activities will be provided online, with personal online support from staff.   

In SBS, we are prioritising practical teaching, tutorial/seminar based teaching and field trips for campus-based MSc students, with equivalent activities for online students. Computer practicals will be taught in-person online, using break out rooms and staff and demonstrators working with small groups of students. We plan to provide the majority of our lectures online and pre-recorded so that they can be accessed in a flexible way. These will be supported by online tutorials and discussions to enable class interaction and group work.  

Reading Lists

If you would like to do some background reading/study before starting your MSc (this is not compulsory!) you may find the following recommendations helpful; feel free to browse all categories, whichever MSc you are doing. Many texts will be free to access online once you have your University of Aberdeen login.  

Statistics 

Marine topics 

  • Levinton J (2017) Marine Biology: Function, Biodiversity, Ecology. A good introductory text. 

  • Kaiser MJ, Attrill MJ, Jennings S (2020) Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems and Impacts. A newly revised overview (released on 6 Aug), 2011 edition still OK).  

  • Probert PK (2017) Marine Conservation 

Environmental/soil topics 

  • Duarte, A.C., Cachada, A., Rocha-Santos, T.A.P. (Eds.), 2017. Soil Pollution: From Monitoring to Remediation. Academic Press. 

  • Blume, H.-P., Brümmer, G. W., Fleige, H., Horn, R., Kandeler, E., Kögel-Knabner, I., et al. (2016). Scheffer/Schachtschabel Soil Science. Berlin: Springer Verlag. 

General ecology/conservation 

  • Begon, Townsend and Harper (2006) Ecology: From individuals to ecosystems. Blackwell (other editions with slightly different titles and order of authors are also fine). A good introductory text.  

  • Crawley, Michael J (1997) Plant Ecology. Blackwell Science 

  • "Popular" reading about current ecology, conservation and rewilding issues in the UK: 

  • Tree, Isabella (2019) Rewilding: The return of nature to a British farm.  
  • MacDonald, Benedict (2020) Rebirding: Rewilding Britain and its birds.  

Forest ecology 

  • Kimmins J P (1987) Forest Ecology. Prentice Hall, New Jersey 

  • Mabberley D J (1992) Tropical Rain Forest Ecology. Chapman and Hall, Glasgow, New York. 

  • Newton A C (2007) Forest ecology and conservation, a handbook of techniques. Oxford University Press

Assessment

Our PGT assessments are mainly coursework, with a few online tests (but no exams), and so are unlikely to change.  For group work, we will facilitate online working as required.  For student presentations, if these cannot be delivered on campus, we will offer online alternatives. 

Practicals, fieldwork and placements

Practicals 

We expect to run practicals but the number we can provide will depend on distancing rules and laboratory capacity. We will provide online alternatives for students who are not able to be on campus.  If there are core practical skills that we are not able to deliver in the first semester, we will endeavour to build them into courses in the second semester so that you don’t miss out.

Field trips 

We are expecting that we will be able to run field trips as part of our courses in the first semester if government restrictions allow and we can effectively mitigate risk.  If we are not able to run core field trips in the first semester we will endeavour to build them in to the field courses in the second semester. We very much hope that the residential field courses in the Easter vacation will be able to go ahead as normal and are planning for that. 

Postgraduate Research

Orientation

As a PGR student you have the opportunity to attend a University wide orientation in addition to your School specific event.

Check back soon for information on your school induction programme.

Blended learning

As a PGR student you may have the opportunity to audit Master‘s courses to augment your research training. Please discuss this with your supervisor and check out the postgraduate taught pages above.

The PGR School also offers a comprehensive training programme to support your research journey.