Module code: BMS0005

Module Overview

This year-long module is designed to develop the knowledge, skills, and capabilities that students will require to succeed during undergraduate study in the Biosciences.

During the foundation year, students will explore fascinating processes of life, from evolutionary genetics and cells to organ systems, through to human impact on ecosystems. Students will also study topics in chemistry and mathematics, the principles that underpin biological sciences. Students will have many opportunities to put theory into practice through laboratory sessions and fieldwork.

Academic skills development is embedded throughout the strands and encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning. In addition to lectures and tutorials, learning takes place in the format of debates, lab and field work, problem-based scenarios and skills-based workshops. Subject-specific content is designed to integrate, for example students apply chemistry skills in biological contexts.

Employability skills are coordinated through portfolio activities and reflective tasks, students will interrogate their future discipline and explore academic literature in their field of interest. The module aims to broaden students’ perceived scope of the biosciences, with investigations of themes associated with sustainability.

Resilience is built into this module through the strong formative challenges that are present for all coursework. Challenges are set that allow students to make mistakes and learn from them. This feeds into reflective activities that invite students to develop their academic processes, so they are best able to cope with the challenges ahead. Finally, the module takes a strong approach to team-working; learners regularly work with the same small group of peers and this work is directly assessed. Learning about their various peers and how to adapt to working effectively develops students’ cultural awareness and is a key employability skill.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

HOPKINS Sam (Library)

Number of Credits: 120

ECTS Credits: 60

Framework: FHEQ Level 3

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 54

Independent Learning Hours: 499

Lecture Hours: 100

Seminar Hours: 66

Tutorial Hours: 56

Laboratory Hours: 35

Practical/Performance Hours: 20

Guided Learning: 94

Captured Content: 276

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Core transferable skills

  • Professionalism

  • Team working

  • Reflection

  • Engaging with feedback

  • How to make notes

  • Understanding academic integrity

  • Referencing

  • How to perform effective literature searches

  • What is the scientific method?

  • How to critically read a scientific article

  • How to write academically

  • How to structure a lab report

  • Presentation skills

  • How to communicate clearly (written and oral)

  • Arithmetic and numerical computation

  • Digital literacy

  • Data presentation

  • Data analysis and interpretation (including statistics)

Biology components

  • Biological molecules

  • Enzymes and energetics

  • Biological membranes, transport, & buffers

  • Cell structure & signaling

  • Cell cycle, mitosis & meiosis

  • Cellular respiration & photosynthesis

  • Cell and tissue adaptation

  • DNA, genes, transcription & translation

  • Molecular biological techniques 

  • The tree of life and taxonomy

  • Inheritance and genetics (Mendelian, population and disease)

  • Evolution, biodiversity and speciation

  • Ecology and the environment

Physiology components

  • Physiological and anatomical principles

  • Neuroendocrine system

  • Gastrointestinal system

  • Cardiovascular & pulmonary system

  • Renal & hepatic systems

  • Muscles

Chemistry components

  • Atomic structure and notation

  • Electron orbitals, bonding and periodicity

  • Amount of substance, moles and molarity

  • Acid, alkalis, buffers and indicators

  • Redox

  • Enthalpies, rate equations and equilibria

  • Applied chemistry topics, such as:

    • Exercise and metabolism chemistry

    • Food and nutrition chemistry

    • Drug and hormone chemistry

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Online Scheduled Summative Class Test Semester 1 exam-style short answer questions 5
Coursework Fieldwork research report 10
Examination Online Semester 1 60-minute online test 10
Coursework Laboratory research report 10
Oral exam or presentation Teamworking Skills 10
Coursework 'My future discipline' investigation, including write-up 10
Oral exam or presentation Individual poster presentation 5
Coursework Reflective ePortfolio 15
Examination Online Semester 2 Short Answer Questions Examination (3 Hours) 15
Examination Online Semester 2 60-minute online test 10

Alternative Assessment

Alternative assessments for the practical write-ups: guided reading around the relevant theory will be provided along with indicative data for analysis and write-up for summative assessment.  

Assessment Strategy

Overall, the assessment strategy is to strongly expose students to the full range of challenges and assessment modes that they will encounter during their degrees, but with additional scaffolding and feedback such that students will both develop their skills quickly and are able to eventually tackle advanced tasks.

Assessments are designed such that formative and summative components are clearly connected and build on each other to enable student success.

Three of the assessments (the e-portfolio, ‘My future discipline’ investigation, and Teamworking Skills) run throughout most of the year and include multiple assessment points to allow students to improve their performance. Several assessments, and especially the e-portfolio, encourage learners to analyse their own thinking processes and nurture reflective practices.

Examination questions test the student’s understanding of the links between different subject topics and skills across all domains (core skills, biology, chemistry, and physiology). Examinations include problem-based shortanswer questions, to build the abilities and expectations that examinations will be performative and cognitively challenging. The summative assessments for this module consist of:

  • Semester 1 exam-style short answer questions

  •  Fieldwork research report

  • Semester 1 60-minute online test

  •  Laboratory research report

  •  Teamworking Skills

  •  'My future discipline' investigation, including write-up

  • Individual poster presentation

  • Reflective ePortfolio 

  • Semester 2 Short Answer Questions online Examination (3 Hours)

  • Semester 2 60-minute online test

Formative assessment

Opportunities for formative assessments will be integrated throughout the programme to support the development of knowledge and understanding, intellectual and cognitive skills and practical skills. Formative feedforward will take different forms including: pre-submission write-up cafes, small group feedback tutorials, one-to-one feedback meetings, written and audio feedback.


Continuous feedback strategies are built into the module to capture the students’ experiences and develop their;

  • Ability to articulate reflective practice through writing

  • Reflection and discussion of learning

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Engagement and communication skills

Requirements to progress

There are special requirements for students to progress from the Biosciences foundation year. This is because the programme consists of one year-long module and is level 3. To progress, students must;

  • achieve an aggregate grade (weighted average) of 50% across the year.

  • achieve a pass grade of at least 50% on each component of assessment (each coursework or exam)

These requirements balance the need for students to have met the learning outcomes on the programme whilst not creating unnecessary barriers to progression.

Module aims

  • Develop key and transferable skills that will help in the assimilation of knowledge and develop autonomy in learning
  • Develop cognitive skills that allow for critical thinking, problem solving and analysis of data and information
  • Develop a sense of belonging to the degree programme and discipline by engaging with the degree teaching team and carrying out a piece of research into a disciplinary topic
  • Educate in the core biological, chemical, and physiological concepts and core scientific skills such that students are comprehensively prepared to progress on to a biosciences degree programme

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Relate principles and concepts to underlying theoretical approaches C
002 Carry out defined investigative strategies and successfully communicate the result C
003 Collect information to solve standard problems C
004 Analyse a range of data using pre-defined principles or criteria C
005 Have a deeper understanding of biosciences fundamentals K
006 Demonstrate an awareness of the subject area and current areas of debate in the field K
007 Demonstrate attitudes and behaviours that support lifelong learning T
008 Demonstrate skills in communication, interpersonal skills and reflection T
009 Demonstrate confidence and self-awareness in becoming an independent learner T
010 Demonstrate an ability to assess own capabilities against given criteria T
011 Safely perform relevant practical tasks P
012 Complete complex performance tasks with guidance P
013 Adapt behaviour to work with others in joint tasks P
014 Demonstrate an awareness of ethical issues in the biosciences P
015 Demonstrate the ability to plan for assignments P
016 Demonstrate academic integrity through the referencing of suitable sources. P
017 Provide a deep intepretation of an academic article C
018 Communicate findings to a variety of audiences T
019 Investigate a self-selected area of academic interest K
020 Reflect on personal academic future CP

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:

  1. Enhance a student’s learning experience

  2. Encourage active student engagement

  3. Integrate innovative approaches to learning and teaching

  4. Offer high quality educational delivery

  5. Develop a student’s ability to study independently

  6. Develop subject specific knowledge and the ability to communicate it to others.

The following types of learning and teaching are used abundantly on this programme:

‘Flipped’ classes. Here, students engage with a resource before coming to a taught class. This means that the taught session can focus less on facts and more on understanding and applying ideas.

Workshops. Often held in computer labs, these sessions are designed to develop specific skills that students require, such as how to perform certain biochemistry calculation, statistics and data analysis or how to use certain software, this is essential for enhancing digital capabilities.

Problem/scenario-based classes. Here, students are put into small teams where they handle previously unseen challenging materials. Through handling the problem/scenario, students learn in a more integrated fashion.

Team-based directed activities. In small teams, students complete activities in their own time that allow them to develop a wider skill set and take more ownership of learning.

Wet- and dry- field and laboratory practical series. Various practical elements are joined together to create a progressive learning experience, culminating in completion of written reports.

Discursive small-group tutorials. These sessions are used where discussion is required, for example to provide students with pre-submission feedforward and coursework feedback, or to talk about journal articles. This is used to enhance knowledge and communication skills which are essential for employability beyond the University.

Reflective activities. Students regularly write reflectively about their studies, to encourage students to take a more considered and deliberate approach.

Presentations and debates. Students prepare talks and then share their ideas with their peers and tutors. This is often structured to lead on to questioning and discussion.

Directed study. A wide array of resources, including quizzes, textbooks, websites etc. are signposted on Surreylearn and/or in classes for students to use during their studies and in preparation for assessments.

Lecture/ Seminar. Ideas and knowledge are introduced by a tutor to the group. Students are then invited to ask and answer questions to investigate further.

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: BMS0005

Other information


Students embark on several components that introduce sustainability and encourage students to investigate this theme. Students design and perform fieldwork that investigates the principles of ecology and carry out a semester long case study into an ecological system.

Global and cultural capabilities

Students investigate international infectious disease and ecology case studies that develop a broad perspective of global issues. The students debate various evolutionary topics, that will raise questions about global and cultural themes. More generally, the philosophy adopted here is that practicing capabilities is a deeper learning experience than being taught capabilities didactically. Teamworking is integrated and assessed throughout this foundation year, such that students are regularly having to utilise and develop their cultural capabilities. Weekly, students will tackle complex tasks with those from different cultural, ethnic, and social backgrounds. Students are required to regularly reflect on their capabilities in working with those who are different from themselves and thereby increase their awareness and skillset.

Digital capabilities

This programme includes many sessions dedicated to building digital capabilities, including how to search for literature and information databases, how to use useful software applications, and how to use digital data analysis tools. To authentically reflect modern teamworking, student teamworking involves using online communication and organisation platforms.


The ‘My future discipline’ assessment develops students’ self-knowledge around the scope of professional competencies. Through investigation of their programme of choice and an area of interest, students will explore employability themes. Sessions are also provided that directly investigate students' choice of degree and what this means for student future employability. The Teamworking Skills assessment continuously trains students to develop skills associated with employability.

Resourcefulness and resilience

Two of the programme’s chief aims and several of the module learning outcomes address this theme. The e-portfolio is designed to develop students' resourcefulness through reflective cognitive development. The field and lab reports have challenges that require students to build resilience if they are to succeed. Many components of the programme require students to iteratively try new modes of working (such as problembased learning), such that they can receive formative feedback and improve as they progress.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Veterinary Biosciences with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Biomedical Science with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Microbiology with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Biochemistry with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Nutrition with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Food Science and Nutrition with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Nutrition and Dietetics with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Sport and Exercise Science with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences (Infection and Immunity) with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences (Animal Biology and Ecology) with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences (Cellular and Molecular Sciences) with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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 2024/5 academic year.