Module code: BMS3048

Module Overview

The final year research project is the culmination of all the practical, analytical, literature and presentation skills developed during the typical undergraduate degree programme.  The project will run over two semesters, and the student is expected to spend a minimum of the equivalent of one full day each week working on the project.  The student and supervisor(s) will discuss how the work is to be divided into background research, laboratory work, data analysis and report writing.  Students will be expected to liaise regularly with their supervisor(s) and if undertaking a laboratory based project will be expected to follow good laboratory practice and adhere to local safety rules at all times.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

SAAVEDRA TORRES Yolanda (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 30

ECTS Credits: 15

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 2

Independent Learning Hours: 275

Seminar Hours: 2

Tutorial Hours: 7

Guided Learning: 12

Captured Content: 2

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes the following generic content, delivered via tutorials:

Project selection – project descriptions are circulated during the summer break, guidance given at the start of semester and 6 choices are submitted by the end of week 5.

Project planning - responsibilities and safety

Research Ethics

Literature Searching & Databases

Project planning - avoid collecting data you cannot do anything with: self-test practice questions on SurreyLearn

Bibliographic Software & Refworks

Dissertation writing tutorial

Project Seminar tutorial

Statistical analysis session – to include worked examples with SPSS and / or GraphPad

Timetabled drop-in sessions with Module Organiser.


Individual content will vary depending on the project, but will typically include discussion of literature, laboratory demonstrations and provision of protocols, provision of appropriate health and safety material, data analysis guidance, (some of these may occur as group activities or may be provided by designates, e.g. technical staff, PhD or Post doctoral researchers) progress meetings, and individual guidance on seminar and dissertation.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Project (Group/Individual/Dissertation) Research Project 100
Coursework Health & Safety and Research Ethics tests Pass/Fail

Alternative Assessment

Alternative deadlines for missed or failed seminars or dissertations will be set by agreement with the Exam Board. If insufficient lab work / research has been carried out to merit a pass, additional work will be required the timing of which will be agreed by the Exam Board and the supervisor. In both instances the mark for the re-submitted component will be capped in the usual manner. If it is not possible to obtain a supervisor mark (either from the supervisor or their alternate e.g. post-doctoral mentor), in order to permit graduation to proceed without delay, the following procedure will be adopted: the unweighted average of the seminar and dissertation mark will be considered by such members of staff as have provided any input into the project (e.g. in the form of dissertation guidance).  If this is deemed to be a fair (or generous) reflection then the said mark will carry forward, however if such staff feel the student is disadvantaged by this mark then they may, with the module leader's agreement, adjust the mark accordingly.  Circumstances under which the supervisor (or designate) is not able to provide a mark are envisaged to be rare. If a student fails the supervisor's mark and there is no opportunity for further work to redeem this situation then an alternative whereby the student submits 2 page summary of the rationale and suggested improvements to their own project, which will then be marked by the supervisor.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

The dissertation will examine the effectiveness of use of electronic databases, critical assessment of scientific literature and knowledge of the research project topic (LO1-3).  It will also examine the student’s ability to analyse and interpret research data (LO5) and write a detailed and well-constructed scientific report (LO6).

In addition to LO1-3 and 5, the seminar presentation itself will test LO7 (ability to present orally).

The supervisor’s mark provides an assessment of the entirety of the student’s performance and covers the following as appropriate to the nature of the project: effort, technical skills, analytical skills, ability to work independently, ability to plan experiments, and quality of record keeping.  It encompasses all module LOs, particularly LO4 (capacity for independent research) and LO5 (ability to analyse and interpret research data).

LO8 (Research Ethics and Health & Safety thresholds) will be tested in a pass / fail manner by online MCQ.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Supervisor’s Assessment (20%): There will be on-going assessment by the supervisor and/or their designate(s) culminating in the supervisor’s report covering the entirety of the project.  This will be finalised after the dissertation submission and feedback will be provided along with the dissertation feedback at the end of the marking process.

  • Seminar (20%): 10 min presentation 
    Assessment by two independent members of academic staff on the basis of Content and Presentation Skills.  Seminars will be scheduled during weeks 27-29 and feedback will be provided as soon as practical after this period.

  • Dissertation (60%): To be submitted electronically to SurreyLearn in Word and PDF format on the Tuesday of week 35.  

For Laboratory, Clinical or Data analysis projects: a dissertation of 4000-6000 words to include a 300 word abstract (which does not contribute to the overall word count).  The main body of the dissertation should be fully references and would typically be composed of an introduction (leading to aims and / or hypothesis), methods, results and discussion.

For Meta-analysis projects: a dissertation of 4000-6000 words, likewise excluding the abstract.  This would typically incorporate a general introduction, methods (in the form of selection criteria and approaches to extracting and analyzing data), results of data analysis, and discussion.

For Grant Proposal projects the total word count of 6000-8000 words is based on the following sections: Introduction (1500-2000 words) leading to the selection of five papers for review (500 words each plus up to 250 words summarising) which lead to the identification of a research question and the Grant Proposal (2000-3000 words) which should include a Gantt chart / timeline.  This style of project will also include a lay summary and a technical summary (up to 300 words each).

A detailed breakdown of the components of the dissertation is not provided here, but will be available to students via SurreyLearn.

The dissertation will be assessed by two independent examiners on the basis of: Structure, Clarity and Production (30%); Understanding and Analysis (50%); and Literature Surveyed (20%).

In addition for BMS students the project must contain an element of data analysis.

  • In addition to the above grade-bearing elements, all students are required to demonstrate a threshold level of competence in Research Ethics, Health & Safety, and Risk Analysis.  These will be assessed using two MCQ /SAQ tests via SurreyLearn that will be available for multiple attempts; students MUST achieve a minimum of 80% at least once in order to pass this element.  This forms a separate unit of assessment which is evaluated on a pass / fail basis (marks do not contribute to the overall project mark) and as a core module all students MUST pass this element in order to pass the module and graduate BSc (Hons).   Census points for completion of the tests will occur at the end of teaching in semester 1 and during revision week, and reminders will be sent, however ultimately it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all necessary units of assessment have been completed.
    This assessment is in compliance with the Royal Society of Biology degree accreditation criteria.


Formative assessment and feedback

Formative feedback is mainly provided by supervisors:

On-going feedback on research performance (laboratory, analysis or literature) will be provided throughout the project in a verbal, usually informal manner; this will be given during regular project meetings which should be initiated by the student. Students and supervisors may wish to keep a record of meetings or of time spent working on the project. If there are serious problems with the research element of the project this may be indicated in a more formally arranged meeting with the module organiser.

Feedback on seminar content / presentation should be provided and may take the format of a practice run or a discussion.  In either case it should only involve broad suggestions and not extensive “re-writing” by the supervisor. 

Dissertation feedback should cover broad aspects of the writing and structure; these may take the form of verbal comments as well as brief written notes.  General feedback provided may need to be applied across the dissertation, for instance feedback will only be provided on one data figure and the student will need to ensure this information is utilised fully.  Likewise comments relating to the quality of the scientific writing will not be reiterated throughout.  Supervisors are not responsible for proof-reading or correcting written English, although they may point out that the student needs to pay attention to this.  Feedback on the dissertation will be provided only once; students can not expect reiterative rounds of feedback and if there are two supervisors then it is only expected that one of them will provide feedback on any section of the dissertation.

In addition to supervisor feedback, the Module Leader will provide materials to enable students, by considering good and bad examples of work, to understand how to better self-appraise their dissertation.  These will be available via SurreyLearn.

Module aims

  • To provide experience in information retrieval relevant to a specific topic of research.
  • To enable students to acquire specific practical research skills.
  • To develop the student's capacity for independent investigation.
  • To develop written and oral presentation skills.
  • To develop an understanding of the importance of Health & Safety and Ethics in Biosciences research.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Use electronic databases critically to selectively access information T
002 Interpret and assess the relevance of scientific literature PT
003 Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of the research project topic, informed by current scholarship and research K
004 Show a capacity for independent research CP
005 Demonstrate the ability to analyse, interpret and integrate research data C
006 Write a detailed and well-constructed scientific report CPT
007 Present research findings orally in a structured and scientific manner, including background material, data analysis and interpretation of results. CPT
008 To demonstrate threshold competence in Research Ethics, Health & Safety, and Risk Analysis PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: provide students with sufficient guidance to enable them to work safely and robustly, whilst promoting independent thought and allowing the opportunity for students to input into research design.  The primary mode through which this is achieved is by one-to-one (or small group) supervision but additional generic support is provided through tutorial sessions.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Tutorials (11)

  • One-to-one and small group supervision (lab work / data analysis / literature survey as appropriate)

  • Dissertation and seminar guidance and feedback

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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: BMS3048

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Microbiology BSc (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% to pass the module
Biomedical Science BSc (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% to pass the module
Biomedical Science MSci (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% to pass the module
Biochemistry BSc (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% to pass the module
Biochemistry MSci (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% to pass the module
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% to pass the module
Veterinary Biosciences BSc (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% 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 2022/3 academic year.