Module code: BMS3066

Module Overview

The Biological Rhythms module is a FHEQ Level 6 module that builds on knowledge gained in FHEQ Level 5 modules (Physiology, Neuroscience). This module will run over one semester and will provide students with a comprehensive research-led overview of current topics in Biological Rhythms with a special emphasis on human chronobiology. In addition, evaluation of skills for critical appraisal and  interpretation of scientific literature will be addressed throughout all research-led lectures, the tutorials and coursework assessment. 

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

SKENE DJ Prof (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code: C990

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Basic principles: phase response curves, entrainment
photic and nonphotic zeitgebers
Clocks in plants, insects and birds
Tutorial 1: Coursework
Photoreception, ocular and extra-ocular
Nonvisual light responses
Photoreceptor systems: melanopsin, rods, cones
SCN clock, molecular clockwork, input and output pathways
Peripheral clocks,
Tutorial 2: Input pathways and clock gene mechanisms
Clocks and metabolism
Sleep and metabolism
Clock genes: human polymorphisms, sleep disorders
Clock genes: circadian and non circadian roles
The pineal gland and melatonin, synthesis and metabolism
Melatonin and the circadian system
Melatonin: receptors, structure and function
Photoperiodism: neuroendocrine and molecular control
Circannual rhythms
Tutorial 3: Clocks, sleep and metabolism
Assessment of human circadian rhythms: protocols
Homeostatic and circadian regulation of sleep
Circadian rhythm disorders: jetlag
Shift work, health consequences, therapeutic strategies
Blindness, a model for circadian studies
Non 24 h sleep/wake disorder, treatment
Clocks and psychiatry
Ageing, sleep and the circadian timing system
Ageing and nonvisual light responses
Tutorial 4: Circadian rhythm disorders

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK - 1 ESSAY 30
Examination EXAMINATION - 120 MINUTES 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy (coursework and examination) is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

·         Via the coursework, the student’s ability to

o   Critically appraise and evaluate scientific findings from published literature

o   Use electronic literature data bases effectively

o   Write a critical structured essay with a fixed word limit.

·         Via the examination, the student’s ability to

o   Recall and relate knowledge about Biological Rhythms and thereby demonstrate integration of information and critical reflection on lecture content and literature


The summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Coursework (30%). This is assessed based on structure, content, clarity and presentation of the essay

·         Examination (70%): This is assessed based on subject knowledge, content, understanding and integration of knowledge, structure, clarity

·         Provisional coursework deadlines: week 29/30


Formative assessment and feedback

·         during the 3 tutorial sessions by the lecturer(s) running these sessions

·         via SurreyLearn with notes posted on the module page, or via emails to the whole student cohort

·         by providing feedback on coursework essay (listing the good points and which aspects to improve) (coursework feedback tutorial)

·         Coursework marks are provided by revision week

via the Examination feedback sheet posted on SurreyLearn.

Module aims

  • Develop students' understanding of the evolution and physiological importance of biological rhythms in a range of species
  • Develop students' knowledge of how biological rhythms are generated and controlled
  • Expand students' understanding of the importance of biological rhythms in occupational health and disease processes in humans
  • Expand students' knowledge of circadian and seasonal timing with emphasis on areas of expertise within active research programmes in the FHMS

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Describe the basic generation and control of circadian and seasonal rhythms KCT
2 Appreciate the interaction between central and peripheral clocks; photic and nonphotic time cues KCT
3 Understand theoretical concepts and protocols used to assess circadian rhythmicity KCT
4 Describe the role of melatonin in circadian and seasonal rhythms KCT
5 Appreciate the effect of ageing and blindness on circadian timing and sleep KCT
6 Appreciate the contribution of underlying circadian rhythm disturbances to pathology e.g. sleep problems, disorders of metabolism KCT
7 Describe new approaches to pharmacology through the development of chronobiotic drugs
8 Use electronic databases to selectively access information PT
9 Critically evaluate the intellectual and technical aspects of published literature CPT
10 Show capacity for independent, critical thinking CP
11 Write a critical appraisal of literature (essay 3000 words, excluding references) in a structured and scientific manner CPT
12 Describe the effects of altered environments on human health (eg jet lag, shift work) KCT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 119

Lecture Hours: 25

Tutorial Hours: 4

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Provide the students with knowledge and understanding of key concepts via the set of lectures, whilst promoting the development of personal and transferable skills relating to critical assessment of literature, as well as integration of knowledge via the tutorial sessions. Tutorial sessions provide the opportunity for students to define their difficulties or points where they would value feedback which is then timely delivered by the lecturer.

The learning and teaching methods include:

• Lectures (27 h, 2-4 h per week)
• Tutorial sessions (3 x 1 h distributed every 8-10 h of lecture content). All tutorial sessions are designed to be highly interactive to provide students with the opportunity to ask questions and develop their critical skills.
• Tutorial session (1 h) on coursework to outline to students what is required, how to critically assess literature

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Reading list for BIOLOGICAL RHYTHMS :

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Biomedical Science BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Nutrition BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Nutrition and Dietetics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biochemistry BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Sport and Exercise Science BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.