Module code: BMS3048

Module Overview

The final year research project develops practical, analytical, literature sourcing and presentation skills that have been acquired during the typical undergraduate degree programme. The projects provided as part of this module reflect topics and modes of research that are undertaken in the School of Biosciences based of the expertise of our academic staff and hence cover a wide variety of the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals around health, the environment and hunger.  Modes of research include laboratory-based; in silico; computational; fieldwork, data-analysis, and grant proposals.

Research project allocations are usually made based on students’ indication of their preferred projects from a catalogue provided at the start of the academic year.

Students should liaise regularly with their supervisor(s) throughout the academic year as they progress with the research, building their independence as a researcher by searching for information, planning experiments/analysis approaches or formulating grant proposals, analysing data, drawing up conclusions and developing oral and written communication skills: all of which will help them develop employability competencies and skills.

Students are expected undertake a critical review of the literature of their topic through literature searches and the use of bibliographic databases, which will help them to develop resourcefulness. Students will build up resilience by directly investigating a scientific question/hypothesis that may include designing their own approach or experimental plan (with support from the supervisor(s)) to investigate the question/hypothesis.

The use of statistical software and other digital platforms/specialist analytical software for literature searching/meta-analysis etc will help students increase their digital capability.  During any practical or skills development sessions, students will learn how to work in a laboratory, the value of resources, how to work in a laboratory environment and best practice to be sustainable, all of which will help them develop responsibility and global and cultural capabilities

The final sign-off for passing the Practical Skills Record is also incorporated into this module.

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: 274

Seminar Hours: 2

Tutorial Hours: 8

Guided Learning: 12

Captured Content: 2

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module may contain the following delivered via tutorials that will provide students with the necessary tools to select and elaborate the research project independently under supervision.

  • Overview of module / selecting a project

  • Literature searching & databases; Bibliographic Software

  • Health and Safety in Research

  • Research Ethics

  • Project planning

  • Preparing a research seminar

  • Preparing a research dissertation  

  • Statistical analysis session

Individual content will vary depending on the project, but will typically include discussion of literature, laboratory / technical / software / field demonstrations and provision of protocols, appropriate health and safety material, data analysis guidance. Some of these activities may occur in groups, or may be provided by designates, for example, 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 Dissertation 60
Oral exam or presentation Research Project Seminar presentation 20
Coursework Research Project Supervisor assessment 20
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 (Learning Outcomes 1-3). It will also examine  students' ability to analyse and interpret research data (Learning Outcome 5) and write a detailed and well-constructed scientific report (Learning Outcome 6).

In addition, the seminar presentation itself will test Learning Outcome 7 (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 Learning Outcomes, particularly the capacity for independent research, and the ability to analyse and interpret research data.

Learning Outcome 8 (Research Ethics & Health & Safety thresholds) will be tested in a pass / fail manner by online MCQ.

 Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Seminar (20%): 10 min presentation

Assessment of project understanding and oral communication skills by two independent members of academic staff. Seminars will be scheduled in the first half of semester 2 and feedback will be provided as soon as practical after this period.

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.

Dissertation (60%): To be submitted electronically to SurreyLearn in Word and PDF format in weeks 35-36. The word count for dissertations should be 4000-6000 words, except for grant proposal projects, which have a word count of 6000-8000 words. For Biomedical Science students the projects must contain an element of analysis of original data and as such Grant Proposal style projects are not available to students on this programme unless combined with another project format.

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).

The Practical Skills Record that is completed throughout the degree programme, is also evaluated as part of BMS3048 – at least 80% of skills must have been signed off by the end of the module. These pass / fail competency assessments comply with requirements from accrediting bodies – the Royal Society of Biology, and the Institute of Biomedical Science.

Formative assessment

  Formative feedback is mainly provided by the project supervisors:

On-going feedback on research performance (laboratory, analysis or literature) will be provided throughout the project during regular meetings which should be initiated by the student as required. The supervisor(s) should also provide formative feedback on the seminar presentation, and a draft of the dissertation – deadlines and timescales for providing formative feedback should be agreed well ahead of time between students and their supervisors.

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. Feedback on the dissertation will be provided only once; students should 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

  • provide experience in information retrieval relevant to a specific topic of research.
  • enable students to acquire specific practical and/or analytical research skills.
  • develop students' resourcefulness and resilience and capacity for independent investigation.
  • develop employability skills such as written and oral presentation skills.
  • develop an understanding of the importance of Health & Safety and Ethics in Biosciences research.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 To enhance resourcefulness and digital capabilities through the use of electronic databases critically to selectively access information. T
002 To interpret and assess the relevance of scientific literature. PT
003 To demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of the research project topic, informed by current scholarship and research. K
004 To develop resilience and capacity for independent research. CP
005 To demonstrate the ability to analyse, interpret and integrate research data. C
006 To write a detailed and well-constructed scientific report. CPT
007 To 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 ensure that students achieve the module learning outcomes and develop competencies in the corresponding aspects of the curriculum framework attributes: resourcefulness and resilience, employability, digital capabilities, sustainability and global and cultural capabilities.

Face to face sessions comprise of tutorials, practical skills sessions and supervisory meetings. The tutorials will provide students with the necessary tools to develop their research project independently but under supervision.  Students are expected to take responsibility for their project, be proactive and suggest ideas to input into the research design. Students will have regular discussions with supervisors who will oversee the work of students one-to-one (or in small groups) and provide support and guidance when needed.

Students will have access to written materials for the tutorials in advance of the session and access to the recording of the sessions afterwards. This captured content helps to develop basic knowledge and understanding of concepts, which students then go on to review in the face-to-face sessions and to apply in their individually assigned projects.

The literature review on the research topic of their project, the use of statistical packages for the statistical analysis and other platforms or specialist analytical software as required for each project will provide experience on the use of digital tools.

Practical skills sessions (if appropriate to the project) provide students with an opportunity to put their knowledge into practice, and develop key technical and transferable skills (professionalism, sustainability, health and safety procedures), preparing them for the world of work in a laboratory environment.

Students will prepare a seminar to present their individual work in a small session, which will support their development of oral communication skills and digital capabilities.

The writing of the dissertation will promote the development of independent, analytical and critical thinking and written communication skills.

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

Other information

The School of Biosciences is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability: The module includes tutorials and coursework tests on research ethics, and on Health & Safety. This is part of accreditation requirements, to prepare students for professional laboratory and research environments. The emphasis on independent research also fosters important skills that enhance employability. Practical skills sessions also provide laboratory technical skills as do the use of analytical software and other digital platforms, communication of research through seminar presentations and dissertation (report) writing.

Digital capabilities: Students are expected to engage with online material and resources via SurreyLearn, and other digital platforms. Students have the opportunity to select in silico and computational projects. Some projects include the use of specialist analytical software. A knowledge of data generation and analysis is included in all projects.

Global & cultural capabilities: The extent to which each project deals with Global and cultural capabilities varies depending on the topic covered. 

Sustainability: Students will learn to use resources and consumables in a sustainable manner during the practical skills sessions and during the development of their laboratory-based projects. Non-laboratory-based projects may contain some components related to sustainability since all active research within the School meets the strategic aims of ‘One Health’ and, as such, all projects would map to the United Nation's Sustainability Development Goal (UNSDG) 3  – ‘good health and wellbeing’ or UNSDG goals 14 and/or 15: ‘Life under water’ and ‘Life on land’.

Resourcefulness & resilience: The project work is an independent piece of work and although supervised, students will perform a literature review and develop their own ideas/hypotheses, put them into practice by contributing to the design of their experimental approaches/grant proposals/analytical approaches and ultimately critically review literature, analyse results, and outline their conclusions.  All these activities will build students’ resourcefulness and resilience.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
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
Biochemistry BSc (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% to pass the module
Microbiology 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
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

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.