Research Methods and Applications in Biological Sciences



This module is designed to:
● Provide students with an understanding of the processes required for the successful planning and delivery of research projects.
● Introduce students to the latest, cutting edge technologies in their research field of interest.
● Develop in students the transferable communication skills that will enable them to disseminate their findings to both scientific and general audiences.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this module, students will be able to:
● Develop hypotheses and design a series of experiments that would allow these hypotheses to be tested.
● Critically review the legal and moral frameworks within which scientific research must be conducted, in particular research ethics and current legislation.
● Effectively communicate research findings using writing styles for different audiences, including the scientific and lay communities, and to understand the need to promote the public understanding of science.
● Understand why and when it is appropriate for biologists to engage with mathematicians, computer scientists and physical scientists to obtain more quantitative, holistic or systems-based approaches to studying biological processes.
● Critically review the latest scientific discoveries in their research field, and understand the principles underpinning cutting edge technologies that may be applied to their area of scientific investigation.
● Synthesise information, critically review evidence to support conclusions, and define complex problems by applying appropriate knowledge and skills.

Teaching & Learning Strategies

The teaching materials are delivered by lectures, supported by electronic resources that are available on VITAL.

All students study a common "core" of key topics that are applicable to project planning and design in all areas of Life Sciences, and then select from a pool of specialist topic areas that are appropriate to their background, research project and future career intentions.

Students must complete an on-line assessment (pass/fail) for every session that they are registered to attend.

Students are also expected to attend a minimum of 8 seminars, (agreed with their project supervisor or programme director) that are delivered on or off-campus.


● Experimental design and hypothesis testing.
● Research Ethics.
● Popular science writing and public understanding of science.
● Mathematical modelling.
● Proteomics.
● Molecular ecology.
● Meta analysis.
● Students must also attend (and write a brief report on) at least 8 seminars presented within their host department, institute or University.