Welcome to the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health
We welcome you to the start of your Postgraduate Taught Programme in the School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health at the University of Manchester. The University has a worldwide reputation based on high quality teaching and research, and I am sure that your taught programme will provide an inspirational platform for your future career success.
Within the Faculty, our goal is to create an environment that allows you to excel and reach your full potential. Offering access to first-class facilities and strong links with eminent researchers, commercial partners and regional health-service providers, our postgraduate taught programmes are designed to meet the diverse needs of all our students. The curriculum of our taught programmes provides the knowledge and skills you will need in your subject area and all our Masters programmes include an opportunity to carry out an independent research project on subjects spanning areas of life sciences and biomedical research from molecular to experimental biology and clinical medicine. While subject areas cover a broad range of disciplines, all our taught programmes have a number of common aims:
- To enhance your knowledge, and a critical awareness of your chosen subject. Whether you are a graduate, professional or have a clinical background, the programmes have been tailored based on previous student feedback.
- To obtain a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to your area of research and to develop new skills to a high level.
- To address complex issues with originality and insight.
- To demonstrate self-direction and an independent learning ability required for future career progression.
As a student of the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, you will be expected to take responsibility for your learning, within a supportive environment that fosters your development and helps prepare you for your future career. This handbook will be a useful resource as you progress through your taught programme. It provides programme specific information that I am sure that you will find helpful throughout your study. If however, you have questions or would like some further advice, please do not hesitate to contact the people listed in this handbook for further information and assistance.
I wish you every success as you embark upon your taught programme, and in your future career.
Compulsory Introductory Course
All students are automatically enrolled onto an introductory unit (BIOL62000) that provides information on health and safety, academic malpractice and academic literacy. Completion instructions for each of these sections are clearly defined within the course.
Completion of the academic malpractice and health and safety sections is mandatory for all students. All assessments must be completed as soon as possible after the programme begins, with the academic malpractice assessment completed before the first piece of coursework is submitted and no later than 31 October 2021. Completion of these assessments is monitored by the School.
All students are also strongly advised to complete the academic literacy section.
Key Contact Details
If you have any queries or concerns at any time during your period of study at The University of Manchester, there is a range of people you can approach. Your Programme Administration Team will be your first point of call for general issues. Alternatively, you may wish to contact the Programme Director for specific aspects to do with the course or your Academic Advisor for career development issues. If you wish to raise a confidential matter at School level, you should approach the Deputy Head of Teaching, Learning and Student Experience – contact details below.
Responsibility for overall management of the Programme lies with the Programme Director who has assembled a Programme Committee, which meets regularly, to advise on content, structure, management, student supervision, and regulatory matters such as Programme improvement and refinement. The Committee also includes the student representative who is democratically elected by you to attend these meetings.
Programme Administration Team
Your first point of call should be directed as follows:
• Student Support
• Dr Janine Lamb
• Dr John Curtin
Deputy Head of Teaching, Learning and Student Experience
• Mrs Kelly Salimian
School PGT Director
• Professor Sarah Herrick
• To be appointed democratically
Your contact details
You will be supplied with a student e-mail address. The University will direct communications to you by using your student e-mail address and it is your responsibility to ensure that you can access and read mail from this source. You should check your university email regularly and in turn should send all emails to the University using your student email address.
Blackboard is a web-based system that complements and builds upon traditional learning methods used at The University of Manchester. All course-related materials will be placed on Blackboard so it is essential that you familiarise yourself with the system as soon as possible. Blackboard also offers Discussion forums which you may find a useful resource to share information about assignments and other course-related queries.
Blackboard is available to students.
- Students should access Blackboard via My Manchester
- Queries (technical related) should be directed to the eLearning team
- Queries (course content related) should be directed to: the Programme Administration Team
Computers and printers:
On campus, access to computers, printers, email and the internet is available at several computer clusters within the School including the Multiuser laboratories on the ground floor of the Stopford Building. Additionally, there is a Postgraduate Hub on the 3rd Floor of the Stopford Building.
Food/Drink on Campus
There is a café bar and students’ common room on the 1st floor of the Stopford Building. Also, Innovation Cafe and Starbucks are on the Ground Floor of the Manchester Biotech Incubator Building (which is attached to the Stopford Building and can be accessed using your student card on the ground floor).
The society offers students the opportunity to engage with social events, visit places of interest as well as language support and cultural events.
The University may share appropriate information relating to your health and/or conduct with external organisations such as your professional employer(s) (for example, relevant NHS Trust, Professional and Statutory Regulatory Bodies (PSRB)), placement and training providers and/or regulator. This may occur where concerns in relation to your health and/or conduct arise and the University considers it necessary for them to be disclosed to one or more of the above organisations. The University’s Privacy Notice for Registered Students (which is accessible via this link) includes further information about how the University may use and process your personal data, including the legal basis and conditions which may be relevant to such processing (see section 6 of the Privacy Notice). The University will only disclose special category data (such as data relating to your health) to a third party organisation where one of the additional conditions are satisfied (see section 9 of the Privacy Notice), including where processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest.
Staying Safe – Covid-19
Feeling prepared and equipped at the present time inevitably brings thoughts of health and safety. We have followed the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make sure our campus is a safe and happy environment for you to start your studies.
When arriving on campus, you’ll notice the changes we’ve made to keep everyone safe. For example, our buildings will have clearly marked entry and exit points; we’ll be asking everyone to sanitise or clean their hands immediately on entry; and markings on floors, stairwells and doors will help maintain social distancing.
It’s important for everyone to follow the guidelines on campus to keep themselves and others safe. We have faith that all members of our University community will do the right thing.
Our ‘Staying Safe’ microsite outlines the safety measures that are in place as well as useful information regarding:-
- Face Coverings
- What to do if you, or someone you live with, has COVID-19 symptoms
- How to register with a GP (doctor)
- Keeping yourself and your neighbours safe off campus
- Health and wellbeing support
- Financial Support
Student Frequently Asked Questions is regularly updated online but if you can’t find what you are looking for, please contact your school as soon as possible.
Precision Medicine is a rapidly changing and exciting area of healthcare. Huge advances in science and technology, from biotechnology to computer power, have fuelled a new model of clinical medicine, changing the way that individuals access healthcare and doctors treat their patients. Precision Medicine transforms healthcare from a “one size fits all” approach, to a more tailored disease prevention and treatment approach, that takes into account variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.
The MSc Precision Medicine provides training in the principles of precision and stratified medicine and the clinical impact of individual molecular and lifestyle variability. In this programme, you will learn about multidisciplinary molecular profiling technologies including genetics, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics and their application to the growing area of precision and stratified medicine.
The MSc course consists of four taught units plus an extended 35-week project that may be undertaken at the University, the Manchester Cancer Research Centre or a teaching hospital in Greater Manchester. Our teaching integrates different omic technologies to enable you to undertake precision medicine research.
You can choose from a range of projects covering areas such as the use of gene expression profiling, proteomics, metabolomics, stem cell research, tissue culture or pharmacogenetics in the biology of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, stroke or diabetes.
The MSc Precision Medicine is a 1-year programme structured around a 2:1 split between research projects and taught elements.
- Equip students with the knowledge and skills to enable them to pursue a research career
- Provide graduates who will meet the regional, national and international demands for scientists with a broad range of research methods skills
- Provide highly qualified researchers to contribute to and enhance the excellence of the Faculty’s research programmes
Intended learning outcomes of the programme are:
1) Knowledge and Understanding
On successful completion of the programme students will be able to:
- Understand scientific method together with the philosophical contexts within which research is conducted in the field.
- Be familiar with the theoretical and practical basis of the research methods and techniques used in the major sciences basic to medicine.
- Have acquired an understanding of the theory and practise of research methods and techniques.
- Be aware of the practical issues and problems associated with conducting high quality research in medicine, including ethical issues; informed consent; storage of patient information
- Have a detailed and systematic understanding of a chosen area of medical science
2) Intellectual (thinking) skills:
The ability to:
• Adopt a reflective and inquisitive attitude to the analysis and evaluation of research in the field.
• Recognise, define, formulate and prioritise research questions that are pertinent to the field.
• Analyse, interpret, objectively evaluate and prioritise information, recognising its limitations
• Understand and be able to critically appreciate methodology, including the appropriate selection of quantitative or qualitative methods
• Recognise the importance of rigour in collecting, analysing and interpreting data
• Exhibit creativity and resourcefulness in their professional learning, scientific endeavour and research formulations
3) Practical Skills
The ability to:
• Apply appropriate methodologies to specific research questions
• Demonstrate competence in practical laboratory or clinical skills to enable sound and reproducible collection of data
• Present information clearly in written, electronic and oral forms, and communicate ideas and arguments effectively
• Retrieve, manage and manipulate information by all means, including electronically
4) Transferable Skills
The ability to:
• Effectively manage time resources and set priorities
• Monitor and realistically evaluate their own performance and personal capability
• Be aware of career opportunities and begin to plan a career path
• Demonstrate scholarship in research
• Demonstrate a capacity for self-directed, independent learning and adopt the principles of reflective practice and lifelong learning
• Deal with uncertainty and work within a changing environment
|Course Unit||Credit||Teaching Methods||Assessment Method|
Health and Safety and
Academic malpractice course unit
|0||Online material||Online MCQ assessment|
|Research Methods course unit||15||Lectures and workshops. Online material||Critical appraisal of literature, written abstract, ethical reflective piece and statistical online MCQ assessment, Self-learning exercises.|
|Lab Skills course unit|
Genomics course unit
|15||Lectures, workshops, Online material||Group oral presentation. 1,500 word written report|
Metabolomics course unit
|Oral presentation. 1,500 word written report|
|Research Project 1||30||
Orientation meetings with supervisory team.
Preparative directed reading
|Written literature report maximum 6,500 words and project proposal 2,500 words|
|Research Project 2||90||
(25 week duration).
|Written report 10,000-13,000 words. Poster presentation and research performance assessment|
Credit rating: 15
Unit Lead: Vitalia Kinakh firstname.lastname@example.org
Course Unit Administrator: Christie Finegan email@example.com
The Research Methods Course/Unit is an interactive blended learning unit and is worth 15 credits. It will give you a comprehensive introduction to key information and skills required for the design, execution, interpretation and dissemination of medical, scientific and clinically-related research.
The Research Methods (RM) course is an integral part of your experience whilst undertaking your degree. It will help provide you with the strongest grounding possible to carry out successful research, whether as part of your course (e.g. in a dissertation) or/and in the future in academia, industry or a medically-aligned profession.
This unit aims to prepare you for postgraduate research. Specifically, it will:
- Introduce you to the skills and knowledge required to critically design, effectively implement, ethically conduct and knowledgeably interpret research in medical, scientific and clinically related sciences.
- Provide you with life-long critical appraisal skills that you will be able to apply to any research evidence that comes before you.
- Develop your competence in key transferable skills, particularly written and oral communication of research and time and project management in the research setting.
On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:
- Unit Overview and How to Ensure Research Ethics/Integrity.
- To be able to use Blackboard and maximise your research methods knowledge/learning using the research methods online resources.
- To fully understand how you will be assessed and what it takes to successfully complete the unit.
- To understand the importance of research integrity and how to avoid plagiarism, fraud, and misconduct
- To raise awareness of the research governance framework that underpins robust, ethical research and consider case studies when research has gone wrong.
- Research Study Design
- To understand key concepts and epidemiological study design
- To understand the basic principles of project and time management.
- To be able to apply project planning tools to establish and execute a successful research study with maximum research impact.
- Dissertation Skills
- To be able to critically appraise a research paper.
- To understand the principles of effective academic writing.
- To be able to produce a high-quality dissertation and prepare a well-structured research abstract.
- Introduction to Statistics
- To be able to appropriately describe and present quantitative data.
- To understand the principles underlying hypothesis testing, sampling, estimation and confidence intervals.
- To be able to carry out statistical analyses using statistical software.
- Research Communication Skills
- To understand how to effectively communicate your research ideas and findings to a wide audience.
- To be able to produce an effective research poster with high visual impact.
- To be able to confidently deliver a research presentation and defend/field questions.
Teaching and Learning Methods
This is a blended course and combines guided independent study (making use of online resources) and taught sessions. Blackboard RM online resources, including reading and varied visual materials, are designed to cover topics relating to critical analysis of research integrity, scientific/medical research literature, study design, basic statistical analysis, research presentation skills and scientific writing skills. Blackboard RM online resources include self-assessment exercises and quizzes to formatively assess your learning.
In addition, taught sessions (in 2020-21 due to coronavirus health concerns – synchronous Question-and-Answer sessions) will be held to allow students to consolidate their learning and to support the summative assessment aspects of the unit.
Credit rating: 15
Course Unit Lead: Dr Susan Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org
Administrative Contact: Christie Finegan email@example.com
The Laboratory skills unit aims to equip students with the theoretical understanding and practical skills relating to laboratory-based biomedical techniques to enable them to undertake, interpret and accurately record experimental research in the biomedical sciences.
The unit will consist of ‘Welcome’ session, workshop 1 and TWO of the following workshops 2-7, providing theoretical or hands-on experience in the wet or dry laboratory environment:
Induction (online) – Basic laboratory guidance, including health and safety regulations, keeping a laboratory notebook. Biological Safety, Laboratory Health & Safety, risk assessment and management.
Workshop 1 – Results/ data recording, scientific report writing (including methods, figures, figure legends and referencing)
Workshop 2 – Manual handling in a laboratory, including dilutions and solution preparation
Workshop 3 – Microscopy: Theory of light, fluorescent and confocal microscopy; practical experience of light microscopy, including set-up and maintenance.
Workshop 4 – Staining techniques: histological staining, immunohistochemistry
Workshop 5 – Nucleic acid techniques 1: NA Extraction, NA amplification, electrophoresis
Workshop 6 – Nucleic acid techniques 2: Real-time PCR
Workshop 7 – Protein handling techniques1: Protein extraction/purification and analysis, including SDS-PAGE. Protein handling techniques 2: Western blot, Mass spectrometry/MALDI-TOF
Note: All Students will complete the online induction and workshop 1 (both compulsory) then take a further 2 workshops to complete the course unit, at least one of which should be from workshops 4-7.
The unit aims to equip students with the theoretical understanding and practical skills relating to laboratory-based biomedical techniques to enable them to undertake, interpret and accurately record experimental research in the biomedical sciences.
On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:
|Category of outcome||Students should/will be able to:|
|Knowledge and understanding||
|Transferable skills and personal qualities||
Teaching and Learning Methods
The learning and teaching processes will take the form of lectures, workshops and online material
For workshops 1, 2 and 3 students will need to demonstrate competency in the specified laboratory skills via a practical in-lab assessment in order to progress to the summative assessment.
Students on this programme will be required to sit workshops 4 and 6.
MCQ test (20%) and 1000 word report (80%)
BIOL72021: Genetics, Genetic Epidemiology, Transcriptomics and Functional Genomics
Credit rating: 15
Unit Lead: Dr. Janine Lamb firstname.lastname@example.org
Aim of Week 1
The human genome comprises millions of nucleotides of genetic variation. The purpose of this Unit is to introduce students to the theoretical and practical skills and knowledge required to evaluate the contribution of genetic variation to human health and disease. Understanding genetic variation and its potential impact on human health and susceptibility to disease is essential for developing effective preventative or therapeutic treatment strategies to improve quality of life, for use in precision and stratified medicine, and may provide useful diagnostic biomarkers.
Students will develop a theoretical and in silico framework within which to assess the potential contribution of genetic variation to human health and disease.
Content of Week 1
This Unit comprises a mixture of in-person and online lectures/tutorials and two computer workshops.
The lectures cover the basis of genomic structure and variation, experimental methods available to measure this variation, methods to assess the potential contribution of genetic variation to human health and disease susceptibility and how this variation may give rise to differing responses to therapeutic treatment.
The lectures/seminars will be complemented by two computer workshops using online resources for interrogation of genetic data and genetic study design and statistical analysis tools. All lectures will be supported with examples of online electronic resources and suggested landmark journal articles or review articles.
Week 2: Transcriptomics and Functional Genomics
Unit Lead: Dr Philip Day email@example.com
Aims of Week 2
The purpose of this module is to provide an understanding of the relationship between transcriptomics and functional genomics with life processes, the importance of measurements in these research fields, and the influence of data gathering process on data analysis. An appreciation of innovation and commercialization in the biotech industry will also be gained. Students will experience a basis for designing experiments to optimise the retrieval of data relating to gene regulation and how future technologies aims to improve the resolution of data to better permit quantitative measurement of gene activity. The impact of gene measurement and manipulations on the pharma and biotech sectors will be discussed by leading industrial specialists.
Content of Week 2
This Unit is made up of 7 lectures totalling 10.5 hours, which cover how transcription works in the control of cell activity, and measurements can be made in the laboratory using different types of established techniques. Students will be shown how statistics can be applied to study transcription profiles to determine which transcripts can be identified and related to specific dysregulation associated with pathogenesis. A separate lecture is devoted to new and emerging technologies that are in development to further enhance the capacity to obtain quantitative recovery of gene-related activity by implementing miniaturization approaches. Speakers have been invited from the private sector to discuss how innovation can be developed and lead to a commercial enterprise and the inter-relationship between industry and academia. This year all lectures will be delivered synchronously using video conferencing means, such as Zoom.
Assessment of the Course Unit
Assignment – Literature review in genetics and genomics
Students will be asked to undertake a review of the published literature on the application of genetics, genomics, transcriptomics and functional genomics to a particular disease area.
Oral Presentation (40% of marks): In groups of three or four, students will present a short powerpoint presentation to peers and a small panel of assessors, with time for questions. The presentation should provide: an introduction to the disease and clinical problem; a review of the most relevant published genetics, genomics, transcriptomics and functional genomics literature; an overview of study design and experimental approaches; data analysis and interpretation, including limitations and suggested improvements. The integration of the data presented, the clinical relevance for precision and stratified medicine and future research and clinical perspectives should also be considered.
Written Report: An appropriated referenced individual written report (60% of marks) summarizing the content of the presentation and relevant related research, and not exceeding 1,500 words, should be prepared. One figure and one table may be included in the report, if this aids clarity. References are not included in the word count.
The written assignment should be uploaded to Blackboard.
Formative assessment will be provided through verbal feedback following the oral presentation, and through the completion of ~20 MCQ and short answer questions. You should be aware that plagiarism software will be applied to all reports.
Credit Rating: 15
Unit Lead: Prof Clare Mills firstname.lastname@example.org
The primary objective of this module is to provide an introduction to the scientific disciplines of proteomics and metabolomics and how these relate to genomics and transcriptomics in systems biology. The secondary objective is to provide an appreciation of the experimental techniques performed in proteomic and metabolomics studies to provide students with an introduction to the necessary theoretical knowledge to design complex studies. Students will gain knowledge of basic requirements for proteomic and metabolomic studies and insights in to how these techniques are applied in medical and mammalian research with emphasis on biomarker discovery and applications in diagnosis of disease.
Students will gain knowledge of basic requirements for proteomic and metabolomic studies and insights in to how these techniques are applied in medical and mammalian research with emphasis on biomarker discovery and applications in diagnosis of disease. Students will also develop skills related to critical analysis of scientific literature and effective communication.
The unit will be taught over a two week period and will focus on the global and targeted analysis of proteins and metabolites in biological systems with a specific emphasis on their study in mammalian systems and applications in medical research. The teaching of proteomic and metabolomics skills will be interspersed across the two weeks. The lectures will focus on an introduction to the proteome and metabolome followed by lectures focussing on the experimental techniques in proteomics and metabolomics, as well as sample collection and preparation. There will also be complementary seminars presented by experts in metabolomics and proteomics and focused on how these techniques are applied in medical and pharmaceutical environments.
Two separate assessments provide a total of 15 credits available for the unit. The first assessment (weighted 20%) will be a 10 minute PowerPoint presentation outline of a research proposal. The presentation will be presented at the end of the unit.
The second assessment (weighted 80%) will be a 1500 word written assignment consisting of a research proposal. The written assignment should be should be uploaded to Blackboard.
Formative assessment will be provided through verbal feedback following the oral presentation.
BIOL66121: Research Project 1: Literature Review Research Proposal
Credit Rating: 15
Unit Leads: Janine Lamb/ John Curtin
The initial part of Research project 1 is a supervised literature review on an important current research topic in the field. The second part of the unit will involve students formulating a research proposal that arises from their literature studies.
Research project 1 may well be your first serious encounter with research in biomedical sciences. It provides an opportunity to delve deeply into a topic in translational medicine, the underlying basic science, and to imagine how present day research can contribute to improved diagnosis and treatment of human disease.
The starting point for the project will be a topic defined by one or more project supervisors within the University of Manchester, Greater Manchester Teaching Hospitals or an external company. This may be an interesting gene or protein, a basic physiological process or pathway, a known pathology or a set of clinical or laboratory observations. Your supervisors will provide you with a brief outline of the topic and some starter references. At this stage you will not be given specific project aims as you are intended to develop a hypothesis and aims during the research proposal aspect of the unit. During the first 10 weeks of the unit you will focus on the literature review. You will need to read the background and history of the problem, critically examine previous research that has been reported in the literature, consider the relevant molecular, cellular and tissue-level processes, and any clinical implications. Your supervisor(s) will help you to fill gaps in your basic knowledge, depending on your background. The methods you learn in the skills unit, and your taught units will all help you to understand the concepts and methodology you encounter. During the weeks you are working on your literature report, you will have regular progress meetings with your supervisor(s).
After you have completed your literature review, you will prepare a research proposal to address a hypothesis you generate based on the gaps in knowledge identified during the literature review. Your proposal should be for a 6 month project, however, it may not ultimately be the exact project you complete during Research project 2; this will be decided by the supervisor based on feasibility and cost. Developing a proposal is an essential skill for researchers and provides an opportunity for you to formulate a hypothesis and design a research project, using the knowledge gained so far in the course, from undertaking the literature review, and the taught course units. Although the majority of your research proposal will be completed in the New Year, during the preparation of your literature review you will gradually become aware of unanswered questions, gaps in knowledge, controversies and even contradictions in your area of study. These are the starting points for your research proposal. You will receive training in developing ideas, devising a workable approach, critically appraising the likely advance this project would bring if successful, and presenting a persuasive overall case that would convince an independent body that the research will be worthwhile.
You will start by defining a main hypothesis. This is likely to be broad, leading to several subsidiary hypotheses that might be capable of being addressed in a clinical or laboratory setting in a well-equipped academic centre. Imagining you have all the necessary resources at your disposal, how would you seek to add to knowledge in your chosen topic? Would you seek to increase understanding of a basic cellular process, and if so how? How might success translate to the clinic? Alternatively, would you choose to start from a clinical setting and do a patient based study? How would you select your patients? What investigations would you carry out? Would a laboratory arm be useful in the project? What can you realistically achieve in 6 months?
Throughout project 1, in preparation for the task of constructing a research proposal, you should give specific attention to areas of your topic that are incompletely understood, as these are the source of emergent research questions. This is a key part of the dialogue that you have with your supervisors, and should be an explicit component of your meetings throughout RP1. Your choice of project 1 will have a major impact on the direction of your Masters, because the research you undertake in project 2 will be related to your study topic in project 1, and will have the same supervisors.
The literature review and research proposal are equally weighted in terms of credit share (both are worth 15 credits). The marking criteria may be found in the mark sheets at the end of this section.
The aims of RP1 are to train students in:
- Literature and database searching
- Critical analysis
- Identification, conceptualisation and exposition of unsolved problems
- Literature review planning
- Creating and using appropriate images
- Scientific writing and referencing
- Research proposal design
- Critical evaluation and debate
- Effective time management
Students should be able to:
- Identify and isolate basic scientific, translational, clinical (and where relevant) epidemiological, demographic and social elements of their research problem
- Synthesise and analyse data and information
- Show critical thinking capacity, including abstraction, analysis and critical judgement
- Report on the current status of research in a chosen area
- Pose a problem, framing it in a fashion that is amenable to solution
- Command an appropriate battery of communication skills – written and spoken word, images and electronic media – to engage in constructive dialogue with peers and supervisor
- Use effective word processing and reference manager software
- Use library, electronic and online resources
- Develop appropriate illustrative materials for a report
- Make a written presentation using language appropriate to a specialist readership
- Collect and integrate evidence to formulate and test a research hypothesis
- Plan time effectively, apportioning appropriate energy to literature research and writing while undertaking other essential course activities
- Meet agreed informal and formal deadlines for writing assignments
RP1 runs between November and January, following selection of a research topic and supervisor(s). Students will work on their literature review throughout this period, working around other timetabled units. The literature review should be largely complete by 7 January 2022.
Students should focus on their research proposal from 10 January 2022. During this time weekly meetings with the supervisor are recommended.
Milestones and progress meetings with supervisors during the literature review and research proposal are detailed below. The literature review and research proposal should be submitted as two separate reports. Both must be submitted by 27 January 2022.
Literature review: One supervisor should provide written feedback on a detailed plan of the literature review and on one full draft only of the document. If requested, students can also provide a supervisor with a page of text as a ‘style guide’ before submitting the full draft for feedback; this allows the opportunity for feedback on the student’s writing style.
Research proposal: Once there is informal agreement on the topic area and approach (and several stages of discussion and refinement may be necessary), students are expected to prepare their written proposal independently. One supervisor should then finally read and comment on a single draft of the proposal.
18 Oct Students are provided with outlines of the available projects.
By 20 Oct Students select projects in order of preference and inform the Curriculum Team (email@example.com) using Project selection form.
8 Nov Start project and initial meeting with supervisor(s). Starter references are given. Complete Progress Form 3
19 Nov Literature review outline, comprising headings and subheadings, should be submitted to the supervisor(s) for feedback.
6 Dec Student supplies supervisor with one section for writing style feedback.
By 7 Jan A full draft of the literature review should be submitted to the supervisor. Supervisors will aim to provide feedback on the draft report. Complete Progress Form 5.
Beginning 10 Jan Students meet with supervisor(s) for discussion of research proposal. Complete Progress Form 6.
By 19 Jan A full draft of the research proposal should be submitted to the supervisor for feedback.
27 January (4pm) Submission deadline for the literature report and research proposal.
- Define the general research area in the context of your research project.
- Link this topic of research to a scientific endeavour and/or human health and disease.
- Describe what has been published about the topic. Summarise the work done to address key issues, discussing how it has advanced the field and why you consider specific reports seminal.
- All sources used must be referenced and included in a bibliography, formatted appropriately (see later formatting section).
- Aim to use a range of sources, including important historical references and the most up-to-date research of relevance. DO NOT use only review articles. A central core of original papers should be cited and critically examined. References to web pages are acceptable but should be used sparingly. Note the date at which the page was accessed.
- Discuss any controversial issues surrounding the field, inconsistencies between reports and conclusions made by different groups.
- The literature review should be written for a researcher with broad knowledge of the field but not necessarily specialist knowledge of the research topic. It is useful to provide ‘signposts’ using phrases such as ‘In brief’ ‘to summarise’ in order to orientate the reader.
- Diagrams and figures should be included to illustrate key points. Include appropriate reference/credit or make your own originals. A rough guideline for proportion of illustrations is between 10-20% of the report. Prepare concise but informative legends that make the figures understandable without having to consult the main text.
- Conclude by summarising the key points covered in the literature review and describing deficiencies in current understanding which will then link into your research proposal.
- The word limit for the literature review is a maximum of 6,500 words, excluding title page, table of contents and references. Tables and figure legends will not be included in the word count and should be kept to a minimum. Students will be penalised for exceeding this word limit as described previously.
Guidelines for writing the research proposal
The research proposal should be a maximum of 2,500 words.
The proposal should start from a question or series of questions that have arisen during your literature research that you consider important enough to deserve attention. You will have identified gaps in knowledge and need to generate testable hypotheses to gain relevant new insight. Though you should have in mind a 6 month investigation, this may not ultimately be the exact project you complete during Research Project 2. You should describe the experimental approaches you would use to address your aims, however, you are not expected at this stage to know all the practical details of the techniques to be used, nor are you obliged to specify how long it may take to reach a particular goal (or how many resources you might require). Examples of research proposals submitted by previous MRes students are available on Blackboard for guidance on the degree of detail required. You are encouraged to specify longer (or ultimate) as well as shorter term goals for your project. You will not need to include extensive background literature, as you will have already covered this in detail in the literature review. Your supervisor will be able to provide guidance.
The proposal must include the following headings:
- Title (including total word count)
- Summary of background literature and research problem
- Experimental approaches
- Lay Abstract (including word count)
- Scientific Abstract (including word count)
- The summary of background literature should include the salient points covered in the literature review directly relating to the research problem. This should be no more than 400 words. Figures showing supportive or preliminary data may be included.
- Make your aims simple and achievable, and link them clearly to the hypothesis and approaches. Include a set of initial aims, leading to more ambitious, extensive interrogation of the research question.
- The ‘approaches’ section should be a description of the experimental approaches to address each aim, and should include the methodologies to be employed and the proposed analysis methods. Details of subject/sample numbers must be given, including justification of numbers. Potential outcomes should be included for each experimental aim.
- In the ‘significance’ section, provide a clear summary of how this research will (a) address the aims of the project and (b) impact. These should include short and long term goals, and ultimate goals if appropriate.
- The lay abstract (250 words) must be written for a non-scientific audience and should be understandable to members of the public.
- The scientific abstract (250 words) must be written for an informed non-specialist scientific readership.
- The references at the end for the research proposal are not included in the 2,500 word limit.
Formatting of the literature review and research proposal
The reports will be submitted both electronically as a Word document or pdf via Blackboard by the deadline stated.
- A title page giving the title of the report, the candidate’s number (the same as the name under which he or she is currently registered at the University), the name of the candidate’s School – School of Biological Sciences, the year of submission, and the word count for each report. The title page is not included in the word count.
- The reports should be typed using 1.5 spacing. Single space can be used for figure legends and references. You must use Verdana font size 11, (except where specialised fonts are required).
- Page numbering must consist of one single sequence of Arabic numerals (i.e. 1, 2, 3 …) throughout the dissertation at the bottom on the right hand side. Page numbers must be displayed on all pages EXCEPT the title page, though this is counted as page one.
- All references must be included in the Bibliography in alphabetical or numerical order. References can use author-date (e.g. Marshall et al, 2014) or numerical citation in the text e.g. (1-3, 5).
The assessment for this unit comprises a 6,500 word literature review and a 2,500 word research proposal (50% each). The reports are doubled marked by a supervisor and an independent researcher who mark the report separately and then meet to agree a mark. Both provide detailed feedback to the student.
The literature review and research proposal are equally weighted and both contribute 50% towards the final mark for this unit.
Literature review -150 hours
Research Proposal -150 hours
300 hours – 30 credits
Credit Rating: 90 (900 hours)
Research project 2 is a major part of the Masters programme. The duration of the research project is 25 weeks research work with a couple of week’s additional writing-up time. This is a full time project and you are expected to spend 5 full days per week working on it with the exception of attendance at other timetabled taught sessions which may still be running. The research project may be laboratory, analytical or clinically based. The location of the project may be away from the main University campus.
- Equip students with knowledge and practical skills to pursue a research career in the area of the Masters.
- Develop practical research expertise in chosen areas of the MRes.
- Develop presentation skills for oral presentation of new research.
Intended Learning Objectives
- Be familiar with the theoretical and practical basis of research methods and techniques.
- Have acquired practical experience of developing research questions, and using research methods to answer these questions.
- Have a detailed and systematic understanding of a chosen area of the Masters.
- Have practical experience of presenting scientific research in oral and/or poster form.
Under supervision, you will carry out a piece of empirical research either laboratory, analytical or clinically based. Initial discussion with the supervisor will involve a process of refinement of ideas into a project that addresses a problem, the solution to which is feasible with the time and resources available. Training and mentoring will be given to achieve the unit aims, including regular meetings with supervisory team and appropriate training in methods and experimental design and in data interpretation. Feedback on research performance will be provided at formal progress meetings throughout the project. Research performed in the project will be reported in a 10,000-13,000 word project report or dissertation which will include; the background, aims, results and conclusions of the study aimed at addressing a specific but limited research question in the area of clinical and/or medical sciences. It will consist of a clear description of methods and analysis of data appropriate for addressing research questions/hypotheses and logical interpretation, presentation and discussion of the findings. Students will also present their findings as an oral presentation towards the end of the project which will be assessed.
31 Jan Project 2 starts
By 4 Feb Initial meeting with supervisor(s). Complete Progress Form 7
By 4 March Progress feedback meeting with supervisor. Complete Progress Form 8.
By 3 June Progress feedback meeting with supervisor. Complete Progress Form 11.
Mid- July Empirical research completed.
End July Poster presentation Symposium
22 July Submit draft of research project 2 report to supervisor for feedback
By 29 July Feedback on draft report given by supervisor. Complete Progress Form 13.
4 August by 4pm Dissertation submission
Ethical and Research Governance Issues
Any research that involves contact with human volunteers, either patients or the general public or human material must be subject to appropriate ethical approval. You should check with your supervisors whether this has been granted BEFORE you start the project. Some projects involve working with animals require a Home Office licence. Again you should check with your supervisors whether this is required/has been granted BEFORE you start the project.
Health and Safety
In laboratories, you will come across potential hazards. Prior to starting work in any laboratory you should undergo a Health and Safety induction by the safety officer of your laboratory project – it is your responsibility to ensure that this happens. You must ensure that you read any relevant literature relating to Health and Safety given to you at this induction or at any other time in the programme. Refer to the on-line Health and Safety course unit that you completed at Induction. Laboratory coats must be worn in laboratory areas and will be provided by your supervisor. Project work must be carried out according to the particular guidelines and COSHH regulations in the laboratory in which the project is undertaken. Any accidents occurring in laboratories should be immediately reported to your project supervisor or the laboratory staff member responsible for H&S. You need to make sure that you have signed appropriate risk assessment forms.
Out of Hours Working
You may need to work out of hours on occasion in the evening or at weekends. If this is the case, you should first consult your supervisor about this as you will need prior written approval.
The RP2 project is assessed in three ways, the main project report, an oral or poster presentation, and on research performance. A successful researcher aims to publish their work in peer reviewed research journals and present it at conferences as both oral or poster presentations. An important part of the research project is training in both these areas and assessment reflects this. There is also some assessment of general research performance. This follows formative feedback on your performance at supervisor/student meetings.
Assessment is divided as follows:
- Written research project 2 report – 80%
- Poster presentation – 15%
- Assessment of research performance – 5%
Progression with the course unit
Research Performance will be assessed one month into Research Project 2. If at that stage achievement is <50% on assessment of Research Performance, the student will be required to attend an additional meeting with the Programme Director and Research Project 2 supervisor. An action plan of support and training and timetable will be agreed. The student must then achieve a mark of ≥50% on assessment of Research Performance two months after the start of Research Project 2. If achievement again does not meet the criteria, the student will normally be referred to the Postgraduate Taught Progress Committee, and may be transferred onto a PG Diploma.
For a PG Diploma, research performed in a 12 week project will be submitted as a 5,000-6,500 word report (9 month exit point).
Research project 2 report is referred to as the dissertation.
One aim of the Masters course is to provide you with training in communicating your work in writing. An essential skill is to be able to describe your work concisely to both an expert and the broader readership. The dissertation (research project 2) should be written in a journal-style format and should be 10,000 – 13,000 words maximum which does NOT include title page and contents, declaration, copyright statement, figure and table legends, references or appendices. You should have a concise Introduction describing the broader topic and how it relates to your research project. The Methods, Results and Discussion should be separate sections. The precise balance will obviously depend to some extent on how your project has progressed. Look closely at how Figures and Tables are designed and annotated. Plan each section beforehand.
You should expect some help from your project supervisor in writing the report. One project supervisor will be expected to read and comment on ONE draft of the whole report. You should however provide your supervisor with adequate notice when submitting your draft report since they have many calls on their time. You will find it helps to prepare figures and to work on aspects of your report during the empirical research, rather than waiting for the empirical research to end before you start writing.
Keep in mind that an aim of the Masters degree is to provide research training. It should be clear to the examiners what training the project has provided. The projects are short and the examiners will know that the students are unlikely to produce a finished piece of work or to have accumulated large quantities of data. There should, however, be a clear demonstration that new skills have been acquired. It is important to remember that one of your markers will not be closely aware of your project. It is therefore important to provide a clear and concise write-up. Given that projects will vary in the number and size of figures/images, the fairest and most consistent method to standardise the length is to impose a word limit. This is also excellent preparation for scientific writing; most journals impose strict and exacting word limits.
Detailed guidelines for the presentation of Research Project 2
Introduction and aims: This section should provide information about the background to the project. The main aim of the Introduction is to inform the reader of why the area of research is important, and how the project contributes to the research field. This section should end with one or two paragraphs that clearly state the overall aims of the project (e.g. what hypothesis will be tested?) and the key objectives (e.g. what experiments will be performed?). The Introduction should be self-contained and should not require the reader to access additional material in order to understand it. Neither should it be a leisurely review of the field. The referencing of reviews to cover large areas of literature is appropriate. However, research that is directly relevant to the project should be referenced in full as primary research papers. The use of figures to illustrate concepts or previous work is encouraged. It is best that figures are originals. Where unavoidable figures may be copied or adapted from journals, in which case they must be cited in full within the legend. It is important to avoid any issues with repetition of material from the RP1 Literature Review and Research Proposal. As all reports are uploaded onto the Turnitin software, any sentences or paragraphs that are direct copies of the literature review will be highlighted as self-plagiarism. It is therefore important to ensure that the text of the introduction is distinct from that of the literature review.
- The literature review had much broader coverage of the general topic and probably contained a greater level of detail in many areas. The introduction should be more focussed and tailored to the specific project conducted.
- It should be similar in format and organisation to the introduction in a paper, focussing on the key background literature in a concise manner. The goal is to provide sufficient relevant information such that the hypothesis and rationale for the study can be understood by someone external to the field.
- You will undoubtedly need to include some information that was presented in the literature review; this is fine but it needs to be re-written rather than directly copied.
- Although there are not defined word limits, we recommend that the introduction is relatively short (recommendation of no more than 4-5 pages), so that more of the word allowance can be conserved for the thorough discussion of the research findings.
In summary, it is important to identify in the Introduction:
- The research topic or area;
- The question or questions being addressed, and why they are important;
- The purpose of the project. In most cases, the project should seek to test a hypothesis, or at least to generate reagents that should allow the testing of a hypothesis. Some projects may be more observational, in which case it is important to identify how these observations will be utilised to advance the field.
- The aims of the work: what did you try to do, how would the experiments allow you to test the hypothesis?
Materials and Methods: This should provide a description of the experimental systems and designs employed to obtain data, the materials used (including suppliers), and the methods of data and statistical analysis. Detail should be sufficient for others to repeat the work and to demonstrate that the student has understood the methods used. The key here is to appreciate which methodologies require detailed descriptions and which standard procedures can be dealt with quickly by referencing previous publications or manufacturers’ instructions.
Results: A detailed description of the results and findings. These should not endlessly restate the aims of the project but should provide sufficient information to allow the reader to ascertain the aim of each experiment/method development and what the result was. The reader should be able to do this without getting bogged down in details. Tables and Figures should be self-contained with appropriately detailed legends and it should normally not be necessary to describe every aspect of the table/figure in the text. There may however be occasions when you want to draw the reader to specific components of the Table/Figure (for example, “note differences between columns X and Y in Table II”, or “note the asterisked bands in lane 6 of Figure 4” etc). The results are often best divided into sections, each with a theme.
The text should be supported with figures and tables. These should be placed in the appropriate position within the main body of the report, i.e. immediately following the first reference to each table or figure, and not all put at the end of the report. Unless there are special reasons, do not present the same data in more than one form.
Tables should be numbered consecutively. They must have an informative heading and an explanatory legend. These should make the general meaning comprehensible without reference to the text. Consider the layout carefully so the significance of the data can be grasped readily. Statistics should be quoted where appropriate. Units in which the results are expressed should be given at the top of each column.
Figures should also be numbered consecutively and should contain appropriate headings, annotations and legends. Do not make the figures over complicated by presenting too many sets of data. On graphs, each line should have a separate symbol and error bars should be shown where appropriate. Gel lanes should be easily identified from the annotations. Micrographs should include scale bars.
Discussion: The Discussion should not be a paraphrasing of the results and is normally headed only by a brief summary of your findings. The Discussion should consist of a logical flow of arguments and reasoning that explains and expands upon the results in simple English, and identifies their relevance to published findings. You will be expected here to refer mainly to primary papers in the literature. The Discussion also provides an opportunity for you to defend your conclusions, identify how research could have been improved upon, and to discuss how the project might develop given more time. A final conclusion should be given at the end.
Acknowledgements: You should acknowledge the people who have helped you in your project.
References. These must use a numerical citation in the text e.g. (1-3, 5). This is to avoid impacting on the word count by using author names. The use of a referencing software package such as Endnote or Reference Manager is recommended. References must be cited in full at the end (all author names and initials, date, title, journal, volume, pages).
Appendices etc: Appendices are useful ways to include supplementary data (e.g. DNA sequences) without breaking the flow of the dissertation. Buffer compositions are best described in parentheses within the Methods section, but their inclusion in an appendix is acceptable.
Guidance for Presentation of Taught Masters Dissertations
The University of Manchester guidance on presentation of taught Masters Dissertations is available at:
Guidance for the presentation of Taught Masters dissertations
The guidance explains the required presentation of the dissertation, and failure to follow the instructions in the guidance may result in the dissertation being rejected by the examiners.
There is more information on taught masters dissertation requirements on Blackboard: https://my.manchester.ac.uk
Guidelines and Assessment of Poster Presentation
The aim of these presentations is to help you to refine skills that are likely to be crucial in your future career, whatever it might be, viz. preparation of posters, visual representations, oral communication, asking questions in public, and question fielding. There may be several occasions during the course when you will be expected to present your work, including in the form of a formal poster presentation (towards the end of research project 2). The poster should consist of the research completed in research project 2. You are strongly advised to seek your supervisor’s help with your presentations.
A 200-300 word abstract must be emailed to the Assessment Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) before the Poster presentation day. This abstract will not be assessed but will be circulated prior to the poster presentation day.
Structure of the poster
All posters should be A0 size portrait or landscape format. Posters should be designed using the University of Manchester template as a guide (www.manchester.ac.uk/photographics). This site, and other internet sites, has some useful advice on poster design.
Posters should include a title, your name and your affiliation. There should be subheadings for: introduction, hypothesis and aims, methods, results, discussion, a section on future work, and possibly references and acknowledgements.
Posters can be printed using a commercial printing service or via the Graphics Support Workshop. It is your responsibility to ensure you allow sufficient time for printing. The poster will be marked based on its quality, ease of reading, style, content, structure, format of figures and colours used.
A pdf of the finished poster should also be sent to us beforehand.
All students will have 10 minutes to present their poster, followed by ~5 minutes for questions. Time keeping will be taken into account. Try to be concise and highlight key points in a sequential manner during your presentation i.e. background and clinical and scientific rational of project, experimental design, main results and conclusions. Prepare in good time so you are able to run through the oral presentation a couple of times beforehand. You are unlikely to be able to discuss all aspects of the poster so you should choose the most important points in order to get the message across in a clear manner within the time frame given.
Each poster presentation will be marked by 2 assessors who are independent of the project. You will be provided with feedback from the assessors. The marks from the poster presentation will contribute to your final mark for research project 2.
Guidelines and Assessment of Research Performance
An important part of research project 2 is training and development of research skills. Many students embarking on a Masters programme have not undertaken any significant research project work previously. As such, many students may not have adequate research skills at the beginning of research project 2. We do, however, expect students to learn and develop these skills during the progression of the project, during which formative feedback of research skills and performance will be given.
Failure to achieve a mark of ≥50% on Assessment of Research Performance, one month after the start of Research Project 2 will result in:
- A meeting of the student with the Programme Director and Research Project 2 supervisor, resulting in an agreed action plan and timetable.
- The student must then achieve a mark of ≥50% on assessment of Research Performance two months after the start of Research Project 2.
- If achievement does not meet this criterion, the student will normally be referred to the Postgraduate Taught Progress Committee, and may be required to submit for a PG Diploma.
At the end of the research project summative assessment of performance will be undertaken (5% of the total marks for the 90 credit Research Project 2 unit).
What are good research skills?
There are many good research skills which need to be developed during the course of the project. Whilst some of these are specific to the project itself – for example ability to conduct a specific experimental technique – some are generic in nature.
Good researchers need to be fully engaged in the research programme. They should be organised, hard-working and highly motivated. While they need to demonstrate that they can follow instructions carefully and accurately follow experimental protocols they should also contribute to project organisation, design and development. This necessitates constant evaluation of the project both with respect to practical progress, data obtained and available and emerging literature. The contribution of this should increase as the project progresses. Good researchers should be able to recognise when they need help in performing a procedure/experimental technique but they should, with support, be able to troubleshoot and develop the skills needed to carry these out independently.
How are research skills developed and feedback given?
You will meet with your project supervisor during the first week of your project. At this meeting (which must be documented on Form 7) he/she will discuss with you the aims and outcomes of the project and the specific approaches to be taken. Health and safety issues will also be discussed and you must read any relevant literature which is supplied surrounding this. At this meeting you should also discuss the proposed research skills with your supervisor and you should highlight any which you think you may need extra support and training in developing.
You will have additional timetabled progress/feedback meetings during your project with your supervisory team at which you will be given formative feedback on how your research skills are developing and where there is a need for further improvement. These should be detailed at 1 month on Progress Form 8 and at 4 months on Progress Form 11. At these meetings agreed actions for the development of these skills will be set. If you feel you need any additional support or training you should raise it with your supervisor and possibly contact the Programme Directors for further guidance. At the end of your project, you will be formally assessed on your generic research skills performance. This will contribute 5% of the total marks for research project 2.
Your final assessment will be completed by two assessors and will be based on your research performance at the end of the project. If you have two supervisors, this should be done by both supervisors independently. If you only have one main supervisor, your supervisor will nominate a senior member of the group who will act as second assessor. This will be someone who is aware of the work you do during the project. The second assessor will be nominated at the start of the project and will be aware that they will be required to assess your performance and will be present at the timetabled progress/feedback meetings.
All students at dissertation level are allocated a Supervisor. Briefly, the responsibilities of the Supervisor include: giving guidance about the nature of research and the standard expected; the planning of the research programme; and pointing the Student towards relevant literature and other sources of information.
The relationship between the Student and their Supervisor is of central importance. Both the Student and the Supervisor have a responsibility to ensure that the dissertation is completed within the prescribed period of the programme. Supervisors and students should establish at their initial meeting clear and explicit expectations of each other in order to minimise the risks and problems of misunderstanding, inadequate supervision and unsatisfactory work.
Progress monitoring meetings must be closely documented. It should be noted that in some instances students may be jointly supervised by staff, and be assigned a principal and second supervisor.
If you have any queries or concerns at any time during your period of study, there is a range of people you can approach:
- The Programme Administration Team
- Postgraduate Taught Education Support Manager
- Your Supervisor
- Programme Directors
- Postgraduate Taught Director
Occupational Health Screening
You are required to attend an occupational health screening appointment. The Programme Administration Team will send you a Occupational Health screening form by email which you should return to Occupational Health directly within two weeks of receipt. The Occupational Health Service will then send you an appointment time.
Please do not assume you can record lectures with a voice recorder or similar device. If you wish to record a lecture or other teaching session, ensure you obtain the prior permission of the lecturer. You may not share any recordings with any other person (including by electronic media) without first being given specific permission by the lecturer.
The External Examiner for this programme is Chris Goldring, Professor of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool.
Please note that it is for information only and it is inappropriate for students to make direct contact with External Examiners under any circumstances, in particular with regards to a student’s individual performance in assessments. Other appropriate mechanisms are available for students, including the University’s appeals or complaints procedures and the UMSU Advice Centre. In cases where a student does contact an External Examiner directly, External Examiners have been requested not to respond to direct queries. Instead, External Examiners should report the matter to their School contact who will then contact the student to remind them of the other methods available for students. If students have any queries concerning this, they should contact their Programme Administration Team in the first instance.
The role of the External Examiner
External Examiners are individuals from another institution or organisation who monitor the assessment processes of the University to ensure fairness and academic standards. They ensure that assessment and examination procedures have been fairly and properly implemented and that decisions have been made after appropriate deliberation. They also ensure that standards of awards and levels of student performance are at least comparable with those in equivalent higher education institutions.
External Examiners’ reports
External Examiners’ reports relating to this programme will be shared with student representatives and details of any actions carried out by the programme team/School in response to the External Examiners’ comments will be discussed. Students should contact their student representatives if they require any further information about External Examiners’ reports or the process for considering them.
Progress and Assessment
Deadlines for Assessed Work
All assessed work must be handed in at the prescribed time. Dates will be published in advance of the deadline. We recommend that you transfer these dates to your diaries as soon as they are published.
Assignment Word Count (Including Dissertation)
In accordance with the University Policy on Marking:
Each written assignment has a word limit which you must state at the top of your first page. It is acceptable, without penalty, for you to submit an assignment within a range that is plus 10% of this limit. If you present an assignment with a word count exceeding the specified limit+10%, the assignment will be marked but 1% will be deducted from this mark for every 100 words over the limit given.
For an original word limit that is 1000 words and an assignment that is marked out of 100. If a submission is made that is 1101 words then it exceeded the 10% leeway, and is more than 100 words over the original limit and should receive a 1 mark deduction.
In accordance with accepted academic practice, when submitting any written assignment for summative assessment, the notion of a word count includes the following without exception:
- All titles or headings that form part of the actual text. This does not include the fly page or reference list
- All words that form the actual essay
- All words forming the titles for figures, tables and boxes, are included but this does not include boxes or tables or figures themselves
- All in-text (that is bracketed) references
- All directly quoted material
Certain assessments may require different penalties for word limits to be applied. For example, if part of the requirement for the assessment is conciseness of presentation of facts and arguments. In such cases it may be that no 10% leeway is allowed and penalties applied may be stricter than described above. In such cases the rules for word count limits and the penalties to be applied will be clearly stated in the assessment brief and in the submission details for that assessment.
Submitting your work
All assignments must be submitted electronically. The published deadlines for assessments all relate to the electronic submission which is completed via Blackboard, using the Turnitin system in the majority of cases. You must submit by the deadline advertised in your timetable/assessment handbook.
- Submitting an electronic copy of the work
- Log onto Blackboard via My Manchester
- Click on the relevant course unit
- Go to assessment folder
- Upload your assignment via the Turnitin process
The University uses electronic systems for the purposes of detecting plagiarism and other forms of academic malpractice and for marking. Such systems include Turnitin, the plagiarism detection service used by the University.
The School also reserves the right to submit work handed in by you for formative or summative assessment to Turnitin and/or other electronic systems used by the University.
Please note that when work is submitted to the relevant electronic systems, it may be copied and then stored in a database to allow appropriate checks to be made.
Please note that you can only upload one document so you cannot save your references/appendices as a separate document.
Guidance for Presentation of Taught Masters Dissertations
The University of Manchester guidance on presentation of taught Masters Dissertations is available at:
Guidance for the presentation of Taught Masters dissertations
The guidance explains the required presentation of the dissertation, and failure to follow the instructions in the guidance may result in the dissertation being rejected by the examiners.
There is more information on taught masters dissertation requirements on Blackboard: https://my.manchester.ac.uk
Extensions to Assignment Deadlines
On rare occasions students may need to request an extension to a coursework deadline due to circumstances beyond their control. If you need to request an extension to your assignment submission deadline then you must submit an extension request form which must be accompanied by supporting evidence (medical letters, certificates or other appropriate evidence). The supporting evidence must justify the length of the requested extension.
The extension request form is available via the Student Support Team (email@example.com).
The form should be submitted as soon as possible before the coursework deadline and should be submitted to the Student Support Team.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your request has been received.
You will be notified of the outcome of your request via email as soon as possible. Please note that an extension to a deadline is classed as mitigation. Mitigation can only be applied once to a piece of work. i.e. you cannot have an deadline extension and also apply for mitigation for poor performance due to the same circumstances.
Late Submission Penalty (Including Dissertation)
Work submitted after the deadline without prior approval will be subject to a late penalty in accordance with the University Policy on Submission of Work for Summative Assessment on Taught Programmes. The penalty applied is 10% of available marks deducted per day/24 hours (from the time of the original or extended deadline), until the assignment is submitted or no marks remain.
Penalties for late submission relate to 24 hours/calendar days, so include weekends and weekdays, as well as bank holidays and University closure days.
The mark awarded for the piece of work will be reduced by:
10% of the available marks deducted if up to 24 hours (1 day) late
20% of the available marks deducted if up to 48 hours (2 days) late
30% of the available marks deducted if up to 72 hours (3 days) late
40% of the available marks deducted if up to 96 hours (4 days) late
50% of the available marks deducted if up to 120 hours (5 days) late
60% of the available marks deducted if up to 144 hours (6 days) late
70% of the available marks deducted if up to 168 hours (7 days) late
80% of the available marks deducted if up to 192 hours (8 days) late
90% of the available marks deducted if up to 216 hours (9 days) late
100% of the available marks deducted if up to 240 hours (10 days) late
If the assessment is submitted within 10 days of the deadline the assessment should be marked and feedback to the student provided. If this mark before the penalty is applied reaches the appropriate pass mark but the applied penalty results in a fail of the assessment, the student should not be required to resit the assessment as the original mark can be taken as the resit mark. Further information and examples can be found in the Policy and associated Guidance documents.
For work submitted more than 10 days late, it is regarded as a non-submission and need not be marked. In this case a mark of zero will be awarded and normal resit regulations will apply.
The sliding scale should only be applied to first-sit submissions. For all referred (resit) assessment, any late submission will automatically receive a mark of zero.
For further information:
Academic malpractice is any activity – intentional or otherwise – that is likely to undermine the integrity essential to scholarship and research. It includes plagiarism, collusion, fabrication or falsification of results, and anything else that could result in unearned or undeserved credit for those committing it. Academic malpractice can result from a deliberate act of cheating or may be committed unintentionally. Whether intended or not, all incidents of academic malpractice will be treated seriously by the University.
The procedures and penalties for dealing with academic malpractice are covered by the same regulation as apply to Conduct and Disciple of Students (Regulation XVII).
You are responsible for ensuring that you understand what academic malpractice is, and how to avoid committing it. If you are unsure, ask your lecturer or academic advisor.
As further support for students, the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health has developed an Introductory Course. This unit must be completed by all postgraduate taught students and will allow you to test your understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and academic malpractice. You can access the resource via Blackboard. Log in to My Manchester and click on the Blackboard tab. The online resource will be listed under the My Communities heading. The module should be completed as soon as possible after you begin your programmes, but must be completed before you submit your first piece of academic work for assessment.
Feedback for Assessments
The purpose of feedback is to provide constructive comments so that you can improve the standard of your work. Thus, in addition to marks you will receive written feedback on most of your assessed coursework.
Marks awarded for your assessments (i.e. everything which contributes to your final degree classification) are subject to ratification by the examination board and the external examiner at the awarding examination meeting. Consequently all marks given before the final examiners’ meeting has taken place must be regarded as provisional. Shortly after the examinations meetings we will publish results and a breakdown of your marks. These will remain provisional until after the final examination board has met.
The marking process involves several steps to ensure appropriate academic consideration and quality assurance processes have been adhered to. Students will be notified by email once the work has been marked and grades are available. We will endeavour to mark work and give feedback to students 15 working days after the hand-in date. However, occasionally there may be delays as a result of staff illness or other unforeseeable factors. In these circumstances, you will be kept informed of this.
Following graduation you may obtain a detailed official written account of all your examination results (called a transcript) from the Student Services Centre on payment of a small fee. This carries the University stamp and is recognised for such purposes as admission to a further course of study at another institution, membership of professional bodies, exemption from sections of professional examinations etc. If you need an official transcript, contact the SSC on 0161 275 5000.
Unofficial transcripts can be provided by the PGT Assessments Team.
How To Find Your Marks
Once work has been marked and moderated you will receive an email from the Assessment Team to tell you that the marks have been released. Work submitted via Blackboard will usually show a mark along with feedback on the Blackboard system.
You can also access marks by logging into your My Manchester account and going to My Services/Self Service and Student Centre. You can choose ‘Assignments’ from the drop down box and choose the relevant unit. Your Final mark for the unit does not appear until the unit is fully completed and marks have been through an exam board.
Examinations may be scheduled at any point during the academic year. The Assessments Team will provide you with details on when examinations will be scheduled. Please be aware that you may be tested on any topic from within a unit. Do not presume that because a piece of coursework has covered one area of a unit that it will not also appear in the exam. More details will be provided by the individual unit leads. Past papers for some units (where appropriate) are available online:
Do not assume that exams will take the same format as previous years. Academic staff should not indicate what will/ will not feature in an exam as this may not be accurate. Staff may have submitted questions that may not, necessarily, appear on the final exam paper. You should presume that anything can appear on the exam paper unless informed officially by the Assessments Team or Programme Directors.
Students are expected to attend all scheduled examinations. If for any unforeseen circumstances you experience any issues in attending, you must report this to the Programme Administration Team/Programme Director who may recommend that you submit a Mitigating Circumstances application.
Student Representation and Feedback
Election of Student Representative
At the beginning of the year you will be asked to elect a student representative. The student representative will be invited to attend the Programme Committees for parts of the meeting that do not involve discussion of individual students and the assessments. The student representative should make students’ views known to the programme management. In addition, they should report any relevant information back to the students.
Feedback from/to students
The University has a Policy on Feedback to Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught Students in relation to the timely provision of feedback for academic progression.
Students will also have the opportunity to feedback their thoughts on the programme via a series of anonymous evaluation forms. Student feedback questionnaires will be made available via the Module Leads at the end of each module. The information will then be collated to assess the performance level of the programme. It is expected that every student will complete these forms. These feedback questionnaires are produced by the programme and allow students to comment on specific aspects of the organisation and delivery of the taught modules. The information obtained is collated and discussed during the next Programme Committee meeting. The quality of teaching on the programme is monitored in part by student feedback. Thus it is very important that you make your views, good and bad, known.
At the end of each semester, you will be asked to complete an anonymous University generated online evaluation form. This is known as a Unit Survey and will address more general issues with the information obtained being used to inform the teaching strategy of the Faculty/University. You will also receive a Postgraduate Taught Unit Survey form at the end of the semester. Again all students are expected to complete these surveys.
Postgraduate Degree Regulations and exemptions
Please be aware this programme has some higher requirements to the University degree regulations and details of these are outlined below:
- The programme will not permit compensation rules to be applied to the following units:
- Research Project 1 (BIOL66121)
- Reassessment will be permitted in up to half of the taught units plus Research Project 1 (50% of total number of taught units (60 credits) + Research Project 1 (30 credits) = 45 credits)
The University Postgraduate degree regulations can be found online:
In order to progress to the dissertation/research project you must have satisfactorily achieved the relevant pass mark in taught course units, including by use of resit and/or compensation as outlined in the degree regulations, in order to continue to this element of the programme.
The nature of your programme and/or project work may require ethical approval.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have followed the correct ethical procedures, and that you have done this in good time.
Speak to your Supervisor or Programme Director at the earliest opportunity to ascertain whether ethical approval is required.
Tier 4 Visa Census Requirements
If you are a Tier 4 visa holder, you must attend census points throughout the year, in addition to complying with your programme’s attendance requirements. Census checks are at specific times throughout the year and usually take place
- September / October
The School must be able to confirm your presence to the UKVI by the end of each census point in the academic year. If you do not attend a census point when required by the School and you do not provide a valid explanation for your absence you will be deemed ‘not in attendance’. Further information can be obtained from the Student Support Team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Student Support and Guidance
Academic Appeals, Complaints, Conduct and Discipline
- The University’s Student Complaints Procedure (Regulation XVIII) and associated documents, including a complaints form, can be found at www.regulations.manchester.ac.uk/academic
- The University has separate procedures to address complaints of bullying, harassment, discrimination and/or victimisation - see https://www.reportandsupport.manchester.ac.uk/
- Students thinking of submitting a formal complaint should, in most instances, attempt informal resolution first (see the procedure). Formal complaints should be submitted on the relevant form to Faculty Appeals and Complaints Team, Room 3.21, Simon Building, University of Manchester, M13 9PL (e-mail: FBMHappealsandcomplaints@manchester.ac.uk).
Conduct and Discipline of Students
- General University information on the conduct and discipline of students can be found at https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/tlso/academic-appeals-complaints-and-misconduct/
- Faculty policies for students on communication and dress code, social networking. and drugs and alcohol can be found at:
- http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=29038 (Communication and Dress Code)
- http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=29039 (Drugs and Alcohol)
- http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=29040 (Social Networking)
- Information on Academic Malpractice and how to avoid it can be found at http://www.regulations.manchester.ac.uk/guidance-to-students-on-plagiarism-and-other-forms-of-academic-malpractice/
- In accordance with the Policy on Submission of Work for Summative Assessment on Taught Programmes, ‘All typed summative assessment, including dissertations, should be submitted online and subjected to plagiarism detection software, where appropriate’.
The University Library has produced online resources to help students in avoiding plagiarism and academic malpractice at:
Students thinking of submitting a formal complaint should, in most instances, attempt informal resolution first. Students can submit complaints to the Head of Teaching, Learning & Student Experience, Kerry Mycock (email@example.com), for the School to respond to.
Grounds for mitigation are unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances that could have, or did have, a significant adverse effect on the academic performance of a student. Possible mitigating circumstances include:
- significant illness or injury;
- the death or critical/significant illness of a close family member/dependant;
- significant family crises or major financial problems leading to acute stress; and
- absence for public service e.g., jury service.
Circumstances that will not normally be regarded as grounds for mitigation include:
- holidays, moving house and events that were planned or could reasonably have been expected;
- assessments that are scheduled close together;
- misreading the timetable or misunderstanding the requirements for assessments;
- inadequate planning and time management;
- failure, loss or theft of a computer or printer that prevents submission of work on time; students should back up work regularly and not leave completion so late that they cannot find another computer or printer;
- consequences of paid employment (except in some special cases for part-time students);
- exam stress or panic attacks not diagnosed as illness or supported by medical evidence; and
- disruption in an examination room during the course of an assessment which has not been recorded by the invigilators.
If you feel there are circumstances in which you may be adversely affecting your performance on the course or in examinations, you should inform your Programme Director and/or Academic Advisor as soon as possible.
You can then complete a Mitigating circumstances form which can be sent to you by the Programme Administration Team. Requests must be accompanied by appropriate, independent, third-party supporting or collaborative documentation, which will be subject to verification.
If the information, and details of the mitigating circumstances, are considered to be highly confidential, you should submit these in a sealed envelope attached to the Notification of Mitigating Circumstances Form, together with the supporting documentary evidence. Mitigating Circumstances Panels have full regard for the confidentiality of any application they receive.
Mitigating Circumstances forms and evidence must be submitted before the release of any results deemed affected i.e. cannot be submitted once the mark and feedback for the piece of work deemed affected have been released to students. Retrospective mitigation cannot be considered without a credible and compelling reason for not being submitted earlier.
A mitigating circumstances panel will meet to discuss any requests for mitigation. The Panel will determine whether there is substantiated evidence of circumstances eligible for mitigation. It will then decide whether the circumstances will have had or could have had an adverse effect on the student's performance, and, if so, it will judge how significant the effect was likely to have been. If the Mitigating Circumstances Panel judges that the effect was or would have been significant, the mitigation request will be approved. Mitigation requests may be approved for a specific assessment or more general impairment over a number of assessments, or for both. If a mitigation request is approved, this will be noted at the Examination Board who will determine how to apply it, given the student's assessment results.
Following the Examination Board students will receive confirmation of the outcome of their mitigation request.
It is the expectation of the University that postgraduate taught students pursue their studies on a continuous basis for the stipulated duration of their programme. However, it is recognised that students may encounter personal difficulties or situations which may seriously disrupt or delay their studies. In some cases, an interruption or extension to your programme of study may be the most sensible option.
Students who wish to interrupt the programme or extend to write up the dissertation should initially discuss their plans and reasons with the Programme Director.
Students should also provide documentary evidence when appropriate, for example, doctor’s letter, sick note etc.
An application must be submitted to the Programme Director who will either support or reject the request. The form will then be submitted for consideration to the School Interruptions Panel who will make the final decision.
The forms required for formal application are available from the Student Support Team.
Students who are considering withdrawing from the programme should discuss this either with the Programme Director and, if in their dissertation year, with their research supervisor, and make the application by formal letter.
Students may liaise directly with the Programme Administration Team who will communicate this information directly to the Fees and Records Departments of the University.
Occupational Health is a specialised area of medicine concerned with the way in which an individual’s health can affect his or her ability to do a job and to study and conversely how the work environment can affect an individual’s health. Their aim is to promote the physical, mental and social well-being of students and to reduce the incidence of ill-health arising from exposure to work place hazards.
The service provides confidential services to protect the health of staff and students at The University of Manchester.
The counselling service is available for all students. It is free and consists of a team of professional counsellors. The service provides confidential counselling for anyone who wants help with personal problems affecting their work or well-being.
The service is open 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday all year round except public holidays.
Fitness to Practise
Postgraduate students at The University of Manchester who are qualified health or social care professionals (e.g. doctor, dentist, nurse, social worker) registered by a healthcare or social care regulatory body (e.g. General Medical Council, General Dental Council, Nursing & Midwifery Council, Social Care Council) are expected to behave at all times in a way that is consistent with the recommendations or code of practice of the relevant professional regulatory body.
Postgraduate students need to be aware that in the event of misconduct, dishonesty, unprofessional behaviour, or other behaviour or illness (e.g. mental health illness) that raises the possibility that the student’s fitness to practise may be impaired; the University has a duty to protect the public and to inform the relevant professional regulatory body. This means, for example, that where a student has been found to be dishonest (e.g. plagiarism, collusion, falsification of research data or other forms of cheating) the matter may be reported by the University to the relevant professional regulatory body.
Students who are dishonest not only risk failing to be awarded the intended degree, but also place at risk their whole professional career.
Further information on Fitness to Practise related matters can be found online:
Disability Advisory and Support Service
The University of Manchester welcomes students with a disability or specific learning difficulties. The University has a Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS), who can supply further information, and staff will be pleased to meet you, by prior arrangement, to discuss your needs. Staff will liaise with your School to make the necessary arrangements for your support during your time in Manchester. The office can also provide a copy of the University's Disability Statement, 'Opportunities for Students with Additional Support Needs at the University of Manchester' which sets out the policy and provision for students with a disability.
DASS is located on the 2nd Floor of University Place (see Campus Map)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone 0161 275 7512; Text 07899 658 790 (only for d/Deaf students);
- Website: http://www.dso.manchester.ac.uk/
- DASS are open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday
Students Union Advice Centre
The Students Union has advisors who can help with any matter ranging from finances to housing and beyond.
University Careers Service
As a postgraduate the demands on your time can seem overwhelming. The University careers service can make your life easier by offering a range of services designed to help you. Advice and support for Postgraduates include:
- Help with CVs and applications, practice interviews and psychometric tests
- Drop in quick query advice service
- Personal Career consultations targeted to your needs
- A range of postgraduate employability training opportunities
- 24-hour access to up to date information, advice, vacancies and details of forthcoming events, including a specifically designed section for postgraduates available through our website: www.manchester.ac.uk/careers
- Information on Job opportunities and vacancies through our fortnightly vacancy paper bulletins
Monitoring attendance and wellbeing of students
In order to monitor their progress, students will have regular, scheduled meetings with their academic advisor. Progress forms should be completed at these meetings. These meetings are in addition to the research project supervisory meetings between the student and supervisor, of which there should be a minimum of 10 per academic year.
Students are required to attend ALL lectures.
Attendance monitoring will take place during ALL sessions. It is your responsibility to make sure you have signed the register. Postgraduates are also expected to sit ALL examinations and coursework tests for their degree programme and to submit ALL coursework assignments by the deadline specified.
Attendance is monitored in conjunction with Regulation XX – Work and Attendance of Students.
Absences supported by medical or other appropriate information will not normally be counted towards the assessment of unsatisfactory attendance. Any absences must be supported by a Mitigating Circumstances Form and supporting evidence.
A-Z of Student Services
Here you can find more information on a wide range of topics such as library services, disability support and careers advice.
IT Services and eLearning
IT Services Support Centre online
Details of what IT support is available and how to access it can be found on the FBMH eLearning Support page.
Login to the Support Centre online to log a request, book an appointment for an IT visit, or search the Knowledge Base.
Telephone: +44 (0)161 306 5544 (or extension 65544). Telephone support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In person: Walk-up help and support is available at the Joule Library, Main Library or Alan Gilbert Learning Commons:
Use Support Centre online for support with eLearning, from where you may make a request, or search the Knowledge Base.
For IT and eLearning support visit:
Blackboard, the University's 'virtual learning environment', will be used for online teaching.
What is Blackboard?
Blackboard is a web-based system that complements and builds upon traditional learning methods used at The University of Manchester. By using Blackboard you can
- view course materials and learning resources,
- communicate with lectures and other students,
- collaborate in groups,
- get feedback
- submit assignments
- monitoring your own progress at a time and place of your own convenience.
Training in the use of software
The Faculty eLearning team have produced a short introduction to Blackboard for new students. The recording is hosted in two places: the Video Portal and on YouTube:
The recording is just over seven minutes long and covers most of the commonly used tools in Blackboard.
The University supports a wide range of religions and will make every effort to support students in observing their religious beliefs.
For centrally timetabled examinations, key dates are to be noted in terms of formally notifying the University on dates in which undertaking assessment will be affected by religious observance. Please contact the Student Support Team with details of any assessments and teaching that may be affected.
Religious Observance and Looking after yourself and your patients during Ramadan
Policy on Religious Observance:
- University Policy
- The Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health has produced guidance for healthcare students on fasting and caring: Fasting and Caring - Looking after yourself and your patients during Ramadan: guidance for health care students.
Library facilities are available across campus including the Stopford Building.
Photocopying is available in The University of Manchester Library. It is important that you abide by the regulations concerning the copying of copyright material.
The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons is a state of the art study and learning centre in the heart of the Oxford Road campus boasting an onsite café, an impressive atrium providing a social meeting space with wifi access and flexible study spaces and environments throughout the building. The Learning Commons is open to students and staff of the University and is open 24/7 during term time.
Additional support for your studies is available through My Learning Essentials.
Online Skills Training Resource
The Faculty has developed a skills training resource to support you through your postgraduate taught programme. This online material should supplement the assessed learning material and activities undertaken in your taught programme.
Accessing the online skills resource
You can access Blackboard through the My Manchester portal (http://my.manchester.ac.uk). The skills training resource is available in an academic community space available to all registered PGT students in the Faculty through Blackboard.
If you cannot see these units in your Blackboard please contact your Programme Administrator.
Full details of all these resources can be found in the introduction to each unit. These resources have been designed to give you formative feedback on your progress through them. If you experience any problems and would like to talk to someone please contact your Programme Director. If you have questions about referencing and how it applies to your own work, please contact your Programme Director or dissertation supervisor/module lead.
|Research Methods*||This course is spilt into 2 units that cover introductions to study design, statistics and dissertation skills. It has a number of online quizzes where you can test your knowledge.|
|Introduction to Statistics*||The course provides a valuable foundation for understanding and interpreting biostatistics. It aims to provide you with the fundamentals of quantitative analysis.|
|Presentation Skills||This short interactive unit is designed to help you to enhance your presentation skills. Regardless of whether you are presenting in public, preparing for conferences, an oral examination or more informal settings this unit will give you the tops tips to improve your delivery. The course also includes a unit on influencing effectively, alongside the presentation and poster information.|
|Qualitative Research Methods*||This unit has been designed to give you an introduction to Qualitative Research.|
|Intellectual Property Awareness Resource||This Intellectual Property (IP) awareness resource has been created in order to improve your understanding of IP. Topics include: Types of intellectual property • Copyright and IP clearance • University policy on IP • IP commercialisation • IP in research or consultancy • IP issues to be aware when dealing with academic materials|
* NOTE: the material in this online resource is for reference and formative learning purposes only. In some of your taught programme you may be required to undertake assessed course units for Research Methods, Qualitative Research or Statistics. If your programme involves taught units then you should refer to the Blackboard material relating to that course unit. Please contact your Programme Administrator if you are unsure which material relates to your assessed work. You will still be able to refer to the online skills resource in later years.
University Proofreading Statement
If a student chooses to approach another person to proofread their written work or seeks to use the services of a proofreading service or agency, they must take account of the following principles:
- it is the responsibility of students to ensure that all work submitted is their own, and that it represents their own abilities and understanding. Any proofreading of work that is undertaken by a third party must not compromise the student’s own authorship of the work;
- proofreading undertaken by a third party must not take the form of editing of text, such as the adding or rewriting of phrases or passages within a piece of student’s work;
- proofreading undertaken by a third party must not change the content or meaning of the work in any way