In the third year, the course allows students to specialise further and contains eight options, from which students select four. The modules encompass a blend of core research areas and emerging topics relevant to society such as GM crops, bio-fuels, and stem cells. Skills training continues. Computing skills are taught via individual and group projects using data from internal and external partners. There are also regular journal clubs that allow students to engage with and critique the primary scientific literature.
Current modules are listed below:
- Advanced cell biology
- Genome diversity and evolution
- Animal behaviour and physiology
- Ecosystems, conservation, and sustainable development
- Green Grand Challenges
- Advanced ecology and evolution
- Evolution and development
- Biology of infectious disease
Research Skills Training:
Year 3 will focus on establishing a strong base in skills that will be needed for your 4th year projects and your later scientific careers. Students will hone their research computing skills in programming, handling and visualizing data, through multiple sessions held throughout the year. Students will solve a problem using their own computer code and write up a choice of these for submission as coursework. In addition, students will test out their data-wrangling powers through unassessed group projects, in which they will help internal and external partners to gather, process and/or analyse new data. These projects will allow students to contribute to real-world tasks and experience working in teams on professional projects.
Through a regular journal club, students will learn how to engage critically with the primary scientific literature. This will prepare students for the research skills paper, in which they will have to read and critique a short scientific paper. Students will also present an assessed oral presentation on a research topic of their choice, with a critique of the current state of play and suggestions for how the research field might move forward.
Finally, students will work on a research proposal in the style of a grant application that might be submitted to a research-funding or conservation body. It will outline a project suitable for one person for a 12-month period, and in a final section propose how that project would develop if extended to 3 years in total. In short, by the end of the year you will have a solid foundation in the skills needed to be a research biologist
Assessment (numbering continues from year 2):
Paper 3: Research Skills - Candidates will read one short scientific paper (chosen from options that represent a breadth of topics ranging from cells to ecosystems) and answer the same general questions: e.g. What are the hypotheses being tested and have the authors made them explicit? Are the methods appropriate for the question being addressed? What further experiments could support this work?
Paper 4: Conceptual Essay paper - students write essays from a selection of modules out of those taught. This paper will emphasise synthesis of conceptual ideas from across the modules.
Paper 5: Applications Essay paper - students write essays from any a selection of modules out of those taught. This paper will emphasise how research in the modules can contribute to applied challenges in their fields.
Students will also be assessed on three other elements:
Research Skills Assignments: Students will submit computer assignments chosen from a selection. Each of these assignments will require students to adapt and apply their knowledge and computer-based skills: for example, to new data or by using an alternative model to the example covered in the training session. Each submitted assignment will comprise annotated code and a short report of findings.
Coursework 2: Oral presentation. Students will choose a topic on which to make a presentation. They will then present the current state of art research in that area (citing recent publications within the last 3 years), highlight current shortcomings and limitations, and outlining next steps and future directions.
Coursework 3: Research proposal. Students will submit a research proposal in the style of the case for support of a grant proposal that might be submitted to a research-funding or conservation body. It should outline a project suitable for one person for a 12-month period, and in a final section propose how that project would develop if extended to 3 years in total.