SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 60.00
ECTS Credit Points 30.00
Module Code MMB126348
Module Leader Annette Graham
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • B (January start)-C (May start)

Summary of Content

The individual research project is a defining feature of the M Res provision, designed to equip students with the theoretical and practical skills needed for a research career in academia or industry. A 12 week, full-time research project - around 400h of laboratory time - will provide invaluable opportunities for students to develop subject-specific knowledge, skills and confidence, in literature review and analysis, experimental design, research techniques, analysis and presentation of research findings and reporting on research outcomes both verbally and in writing. Students will be able to choose a project from a wide range of topics offered by laboratories within Biological and Biomedical Sciences (including but not limited to Microbiology, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Pharmacology and Food Science). A placement (industrial or academic) held outside the University can replace the research project within the department, but it must retain a clear research focus and objectives.


The project will consist of 40h for Preparation for Project, around 400h of data-generating research in a subject-specific area, 80h for preparation of the project report and viva voce examination, and 80h for independent student effort. Students who wish to specialise in particular subject area (optional) must choose both projects in a cognate area (including but not limited to Microbiology, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Pharmacology and Food Science) after notification of the Programme Lead prior to Research Project 02. It is envisaged that students will normally choose projects hosted by two distinct laboratories, but in some circumstances students may choose a second project with a distinct research focus in the same laboratory. Regular meetings will be held and documented to discuss progress of the research, its analysis and presentation, and preparation of the research report. Deadlines for report submission and viva voce examination will be set within a defined period after completion of the laboratory research. All coursework will be formally assessed by supervisor, moderated by another member of staff and subject to assessment by external examiners at Assessment Board.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module the student should be able to:-1. Identify, evaluate and summarise published literature relevant to the project topic CW012. Prepare appropriate documentation supporting the project methodology (RA, COSHH, GMO, Ethics) as required, under supervisory guidance CW013. Demonstrate clear understanding of their research projects CW024. Demonstrate research skills in basic and advanced techniques relevant to their project discipline CW02 and CW035. Develop the ability to formulate and test hypotheses by designing and executing robust laboratory experiments and effective data analysis CW036. Produce a structured and concise research report in an appropriate academic writing style CW037. Identify directions for future research in the topic of interest CW02 and CW03

Teaching / Learning Strategy

For the individual research projects, students will select from a number of options, designed to enhance their investigative and analytical skills, and independent thinking and creativity, through applied research in a subject-specific area aligned to the University's research strategy for the common good. Students will be required to consider the health and safety implications, ethical dimensions, and genetic modification requirements, of the proposed study. They will also prepare an introductory report, including review of background literature, project aims and objectives, and proposed methodological approaches during Trimester B, prior to initiation of laboratory work (Tri C; non-standard dates). Critical evaluation of the literature is required, together with the ability to draw conclusions and make connections between differing concepts. The project will be research based, requiring the use of basic and advanced biological techniques, analysis of data and accurate record-keeping, representing an advanced piece of work informed by relevant literature. Research inevitably involves coping with uncertainty and complexity, and continual learning from experience, and we expect our students to explore solutions to problems which arise during the research process, via literature search and reading. All research performed within the University conforms to strict best practice guidelines and has to be performed honestly, fairly and ethically, further reflecting the Common Good attributes. A viva voce examination, based on the outcomes of both research projects (RES01 and RES02) will require students to develop and refine their communication skills, and respond to testing questions from the background, methodologies, results or interpretation and contextualisation of their findings from their supervisor, and academic staff and external examiners, as appropriate Preparation of a structured research report, in the format required for submission of a scientific journal article in their relevant discipline, including Abstract, Introduction, Methods and statistical analyses, Results and Discussion, appropriately referenced, will train students in concise academic writing, correct presentation and analysis of results, and critical evaluation and interpretation of research outcomes in the context of existing knowledge.

Indicative Reading

Reading for the project will be subject- and project-specific; supervisors will provide initial references to guide students in their subsequent literature searches and evaluations.

Transferrable Skills

Key transferable skills developed during the project will include planning and time management to organise and execute experiments effectively, and to meet key deadlines (CW01-CW03). Review of the literature will require IT and database searching skills, together with critical evaluation of advanced scientific topics, forming conclusions and making decisions to provide cogent reasoning to support the project topic. Oral and written communications skills will be developed by well-constructed oral and written presentations on research findings, and students will develop inter-personal and teamwork skills within the laboratory environment.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Assessment (FT) 120.00
Practicals (FT) 400.00
Independent Learning (FT) 80.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 02 n/a 15.00 45% VIVA VOCE Examination
Course Work 03 n/a 70.00 45% Research Report including laboratory performance (6000 words)
Course Work 01 n/a 15.00 45% Preparation for Project (1500 words)