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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.

Professor Sarah Herrick
Director for Postgraduate Taught Education for the School of Biological Sciences; Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health


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 2022. 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



School PGT Director
• Professor Sarah Herrick

Teaching and Learning Manager
• Mrs Kelly Salimian

Programme Director
• Dr Ingo Schiessl

Student Representative


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


School/University Facilities

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).

International students

The International Society is a busy centre for international students based in the Greater Manchester area. It is located on Oxford Road (see campus map).

The society offers students the opportunity to engage with social events, visit places of interest as well as language support and cultural events.

Sharing Information

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.

We’re adjusting our COVID-19 guidance in line with the latest government recommendations.

We will continue to move forward with caution to protect ourselves, each other, and the most vulnerable in our society. For the latest advice, please refer to the UK government’s coronavirus information.

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:-

 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.

Programme Information

Programme Aims and Objectives

The aims of the programme are:

  • to attract and nurture high calibre students and prepare them for continuing research in industry or academia by providing them with laboratory experience, a comprehensive set of practical research skills, and professional, transferable skills that will be vital for their future professional development;
  • to meet the needs of universities and industrial employers by supplying high calibre graduates with a proven commitment to research, coupled with a broad base of practical research skills, general transferable skills and laboratory experience;
  • to enable students to make an informed decision about their personal suitability and motivation for a research career.

The objectives of the programme are fulfilled because on graduation you will:

  • have acquired a comprehensive set of practical Research Skills in your chosen areas of interest, including the ability to identify and analyse problems, design a series of experiments to test hypotheses, and to analyse and present results and conclusions,
  • have acquired a broad set of transferable skills to help prepare your for the workplace – these will include oral and written communication skills, time management, group skills and leadership, have direct experience and understanding of different research environments,
  • have acquired critical skills in reading scientific documents and responding to the research of others,
  • have acquired the ability to plan and organise an in depth piece of scientific writing which sets a coherent description of the work undertaken, including timeliness, relevance, methodology, and a discussion of the findings.
  • have acquired the ability to summarise the scientific content of a research paper or research presentation,
  • have acquired the ability to write in a scientific style according to given formats e.g. a published paper or an oral presentation,
  • have acquired a high level of library and IT skills, including the ability to use a range of reference tools to search and retrieve information.

Course Units

BIOL60210 Tutorials and Workshops

Credits: 15


The MSc tutorials give the student the opportunity to learn about important concepts and cutting-edge methodology relating to the Biological Sciences. Students work in groups of 8-10 and undertake 2 tutorials with academic staff. The academic member of staff provides a tutorial title and supplies one or two research papers or assigns a particular task. The students will critically analyse the papers or research the task and discuss their findings with the tutor. After the discussion the students will write an essay on the topic that will be marked by the advisor.

The MSc Bioethics Workshop gives students experience of exploring and debating some of the ethical issues that surround current scientific research, including that being carried out in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health. The workshop also provides an opportunity for students to consider the impact that scientific advances may have on wider society.

All MSc students attend the first (introductory) session of the MSc Bioethics Workshop, which is run by the Workshop Coordinator. At the end of this first session, students are assigned to a student group and given a topic in bioethics for further investigation. For the second session of the Bioethics Workshop, each MSc group will meet separately. The students will prepare a group presentation and present this to their academic advisor. Further discussion will follow the presentation as appropriate.

In the report writing workshop the students will prepare an abstract and a figure from their research project. The students will then discuss and peer review the abstract and discuss their figure with their tutor.


The unit aims to:

  • Increase the students’ breadth of understanding in biological sciences
  • Improve the students’ communication and debating skills
  • Develop a sense of ownership in the student’s scientific education and career
  • Increase the students’ awareness of ethical issues that surround scientific research
  • Increase the students’ skills to present their findings in a report

Learning outcomes

Students should:

  • be better able to understand research reports that appear in peer-review publications, both in scientific content and in the methodology used
  • be better able to appreciate the relevance of a scientific study in the context of the broad area of biological sciences
  • be better able to understand the ethical issues that are discussed in peer-review publications, the media and in wider society in relation to current scientific research.
    be better able to present the findings in a research paper to a group
  • understand how the peer-review system works in research and will have a rudimentary understanding of how to appraise yourself and others in a peer group.

General information

Students are required to prepare a group oral presentation following the Bioethics workshop and typically for each tutorial. It is the responsibility of each student to prepare high quality PowerPoint slides for the tutorials. As a group students should be prepared ahead of time. Any requirements such as a computer should be discussed with the Advisor before the tutorial session. Do not turn up at the seminar room or staff member’s office with a memory stick and expect a computer to be available.

General guidelines for a successful tutorial:

  • It is the duty of all students to be active participants in the tutorials. They should have an overall understanding of the topic of the tutorial plus a detailed understanding of at least one sub-area of interest.
  • Each group member produces relevant overheads/PowerPoint slides that are legible and aid discussion of the topic.
  • Group communication is essential. Everyone in the group should participate.
  • The subject matter should be of interest to the students to promote self-learning.
  • The research topic should ideally be multidisciplinary.

Format of written assignments for Tutorials and the Bioethics Workshop

The length of the assignments should be a maximum of 1000 words. The assignment should be typed in Arial 11pt with 1.5 line spacing.

The assignments are marked according to quality and clarity of thought and not on volume. However, unnecessarily brief assignments that lack content might be expected to attract a poor mark. Students are encouraged to write a structured report which can be judged by the criteria listed below. The report should include:

  1. a cover page with title and word count;
  2. an abstract (150 words maximum), which summaries the content of the assignment;
  3. sub-sections that demonstrate understanding of the various aspects of the research topic, including a discussion of the paper(s) in the context of the field and indications of how the work might be relevant to related fields;
  4. a short conclusion that summarises the contribution of the paper(s);
  5. tables, figures, diagrams and references should be included if they help to explain the topic. The reference list is not included in the word count.

Deadline for submission of written assignments

The written assignments should be submitted to Blackboard no later than ONE week after the tutorial. Late submissions are not acceptable so will be awarded a mark of 0.


Bioethics workshop

Students will attend a Bioethics Workshop, which begins with a compulsory introductory session.

All students are required to attend the first (introductory) session of the Bioethics Workshop. Attendance will be monitored at the beginning of the session. Any late arrival or absence will need to be justified in a meeting with your PGT advisor. Prior to this session, you will be given some relevant material that should be read before attending the session. At the introductory session, you will receive information about bioethics, as well as instructions for the second session, the Bioethics tutorial, which will require students to give a group oral presentation.

The Bioethics tutorial will be given in advisor groups. The time and venue for this tutorial will be arranged by your PGT Advisor, but typically will occur one week after the introductory session. At the tutorial, students are required to give one logical presentation that covers aspects of the workshop and the papers that were discussed. Each student should present some of the slides but avoid repetition. Therefore, students must meet as a group before the tutorial to organise what each student in the group will present.

It is expected that the tutorial will be driven by the students with the Advisor acting as a facilitator. The Advisor will award individual marks for the tutorial based on the marking scheme, which is available on Blackboard. The mark will consider the student’s understanding of the topic and ability to discuss the issues. Students also write an individual 1000 word essay and submit a copy via Blackboard one week after the tutorial. The Advisor marks the essay and inputs the marks into Blackboard within 2 weeks of the submission deadline. Students will be informed of the marks via Blackboard.

Guidelines for Writing the Bioethics Workshop written assignment

The aim of the Bioethics Workshop is to increase students’ awareness of ethical issues that may be raised by scientific advances. The written assignment should: provide a background to the research topic that you have been assigned and an account of the ethical issues that are currently associated with that topic; assess whether the current direction of research is acceptable; consider how the ethical issues may change with further advances in this field; and assess the relevance of the ethical issues raised to other fields of research. Each student should provide a discussion of all the issues addressed during the tutorial but can put an emphasis on, the material that they presented. The assignments should aim to discuss the ethical issues in the context of the field, and should not be limited to a review.

Important points to bear in mind are that:

  •  the background information should account for no more than one-third of the report, with the majority (two thirds) dedicated to the bioethics discussion
  •  the report should present an overall balanced discussion of the all the issues, although students are encouraged to put forward their own viewpoint towards the end.


Students are given tutorials in their advisor groups. Students within each group will attend 2 tutorials as well as a Bioethics Workshop. The purpose of the tutorials is for you to critically discuss research papers relating to cutting-edge biological techniques. The tutorials will be will be delivered by PGT Advisors.

The PGT advisor will distribute one or two research papers, relevant to the broad subject area that will form the basis of the tutorial. The Advisor will inform students of the date, time and venue of the tutorial at this stage (dates in the timetable are given as a guide only). The tutorial will involve a critical discussion of the paper and/or individual presentations. Therefore, it is necessary for the students to meet as a group prior to the tutorial to discuss the paper or organise the group presentation, as appropriate. This may involve the students dividing the subject into subtopics, with each student researching at least one subtopic independently.

The tutorial is largely driven by the students, with the Advisor acting as a facilitator. The Advisor will award individual marks for the tutorial based on the marking scheme, which is available on Blackboard. The mark will consider the student’s ability to discuss the paper and comment on it. Students also write an individual 1000 word essay and submit a copy via Blackboard one week after the tutorial. The Advisor marks the essay and inputs the marks into Blackboard within 2 weeks of the submission deadline. Students will be informed of the marks via Blackboard.

Guidelines for writing a tutorial written assignment

The aim of the tutorial unit is to enable students to assess the impact of research paper(s) on the field of interest. The written assignment should provide a background to the scientific area, an account of the main issues that are addressed by the paper(s), and an assessment of the quality/importance of the paper(s). Each student should provide a discussion of all the issues addressed during the tutorial, and should not limit their write-ups to the material that they presented. The assignments should aim to discuss the paper(s) in the context of the field, and should not be limited to a review.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Lectures
  • Orientation meetings
  • Preparative directed reading, private study and preparation of oral presentation and written assignment
  • Pre-tutorial meetings
  • Tutorials and workshops

Knowledge and understanding

  • be better able to understand research reports that appear in peer-review publications, both in scientific content and in the methodology used
  • be better able to appreciate the relevance of a scientific study in the context of the broad area of biological sciences

Intellectual skills

  • be better able to understand the ethical issues that are discussed in peer-review publications, the media and in wider society in relation to current scientific research.

Practical skills

  • be better able to present the findings in a research paper to a group
  • be better able to write a short essay based on evaluation of the relevant literature
  • be able to represent own research data in an appropriate format for publication

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Start to approach research problems and science communication with the mindset of a research scientist including the consideration of ethical concerns.

Employability skills

Analytical skills

Students will analyse the primary literature

Group/team working

Students will collaborate to generate a single, coherent oral presentations for each tutorial and the bioethics workshop. Materials generated for the written report will be subject to peer review.


Each student’s findings need to be incorporated into a single group presentation in a creative manner to maximise impact.


Each tutorial and workshop has a leader who takes responsibility for the final oral presentation.Project management. Students will manage the tutorial and workshop tasks as a group through self-organised sessions.

Oral communication

Oral presentations during the tutorials and bioethics workshop.

Problem solving

Integration of alternative view points during bioethics workshop.


Students will research the literature in relation to the tutorial and bioethics topics.

Written communication

Written assignments for the tutorials and bioethics workshop.

Assessment methods

Staff assessment of oral presentation during the Tutorial – 50% oral presentation

Written assignment following the Tutorial/Workshop – 3 x 1000 words – 50% written assignments

Feedback methods

The PGT advisor will give feedback on the oral presentation and written assignment via the feedback forms and annotations on Blackboard, respectively. Formative feedback will be given on the abstract, figure and figure legend by the advisor and through peer review.

BIOL60330 Scientific Communications

Credits: 15


An essential part of being a successful research scientist is the ability to give clear and interesting presentations, and likewise, to be able to assimilate new information presented in the form of a seminar. In this module, students will acquire the ability to listen to a presentation, understand the key concepts and extract important details, and then summarise its contents in a brief written report. The Science Communication Module also encourages students to develop the ability to positively assess the scientific merit of other scientists’ work.

The oral presentations are based on students’ research projects and are designed to improve communication skills and provide students with skills that are transferable to the workplace. The sessions also allow students to discuss their work with academics and other students and staff.

For the precis write ups, the students will attend scientific presentations at the University of Manchester that are assigned by the programme director. After the talk the students will write a 500 word summary of the science presented in each talk.


The unit aims to:

  • provide the MSc student with a detailed understanding of biological sciences throughout a very broad range of topics,
  • develop in the MSc student the ability to learn key facts and concepts after attending a verbal and audio-visual presentation and to assess the relevance of the work
  • prepare students for the workplace by acquiring the skills to précis data and concepts into a short report
  • to help students to refine skills that are crucial in their future career such as preparing oral communication, asking questions in public.


It is recognised that an essential part of being a successful research scientist is the ability to give clear and interesting presentations, and likewise, to be able to assimilate new information presented in the form of a seminar. In this module, students will acquire the ability to listen to a presentation, understand the key concepts and extract important details, and then summarize its contents in a brief written report. The Science Communication module also encourages students to develop the ability to positively assess the scientific merit of other scientists’ work. The oral presentations are based on students’ research projects and are designed to improve communication skills and provide students with skills that are transferable to the workplace. The sessions also allow students to discuss their work with academics and other students and staff.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Attendance at seminars
  • Private study and preparation of written assignments
  • Attendance at presentations
  • Private study and preparation of presentations

Knowledge and understanding

  • have a broader understanding of research topics in biological sciences and the methodology used

Intellectual skills

  • have acquired the skills to be able to critically assess the work of other researchers

Practical skills

  • have acquired the skills to learn new facts and concepts from an oral presentation whilst at the same time critically assessing the relevance of the topic in the broader context of biological sciences;
  • have acquired the skills to communicate complex and complicated concepts in the form of a short report
  • have acquired the skills to present and communicate research data and ideas to an audience

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • have the ability to present and communicate work; the ability to learn key facts and concepts from oral presentations and the ability to analyse and assess the work of others.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will analyse the material presented in each seminar in order that the key points can be identified for the précis.
Information should be presented in the poster to make the data stand out and maximise impact. Oral presentation should convey the background material and results creatively
Student will take responsibility for the decisions in relation to content for the oral presentation.
Project management
Students will decide on which material should be selected from the seminar for each précis, and which content to include in the oral presentation.
Oral communication
Oral presentation and verbal description of poster material.
Problem solving
Students need to summarise the key points from each seminar presentation in a succinct manner.
Students will describe their findings in relation to the wider field.
Written communication
Precis summaries of the selected seminars.

Assessment methods

Assessment tasks:

3 precis summarizing 3 research seminars – 500 words – each précis contributes 20% to the unit mark

Oral presentation – 40% to the unit mark

Feedback methods

Summative feedback will be given on the précis. For the oral presentations, feedback will be delivered via feedback forms and personal advisors. Students are also advised to ask their supervisor for guidance on their oral presentation.

Guidelines for preparing a precis

The precis of the seminar should be no longer than 500 words, excluding the title, name and affiliation of the speaker. Please be aware that any precis that exceeds the word limit will be penalised by a deduction of 10% for every 50 words over the limit or part thereof. Therefore a précis with 501 to 550 words will get a 10% reduction; a précis with 551-600 words will get a 20% reduction etc. The percent reduction is calculated from the maximum achievable mark, i.e. 100. So for example a 10% reduction will decrease a mark of 60 to a mark of 50. The précis should be typed in Arial 11pt with 1.5 line spacing.

The précis should describe the key questions addressed by the speaker, summarise the findings described and their importance as explained by the speaker in the talk. You are not expected to read other publications for the writing of the précis. Additional papers or work should not be cited. You are not allowed to make an audio or video recording of the talk unless your DASS support requires you to do so.

Points to should consider when attending the seminars and preparing your precis:
• You will need to listen and take good notes during a seminar as this will form the basis of your précis
• You may find it helpful to first write an ‘outline’ or list of bullet points based on the notes you took during the seminar, then expand this outline into an extended written draft, and finally condense this draft into an accurate and succinct summary of the seminar.

The précis should be a technical summary of the seminar you attended and as such should provide a detailed and accurate description of the research presented in the seminar. The structure of précis should also reflect the flow of the speaker. It is important that your assignment includes the following points but only if they were covered in the presentation:
• A brief description of the background to the work, summarising its importance; only one or two sentences of background are required.
• An explanation of the concepts behind the research and the biological problem it sought to answer.
• The hypothesis. Did the speaker explain what her/his hypothesis was? Was this hypothesis-driven research?
• A description of how the speaker approached the problem, giving technical details of the experimental techniques and procedures that were employed in the research.
• A review of the results of the work and how successful the approaches proved to be.
• The conclusions that were drawn.
• The relevance. Did the seminar topic have relevance to other areas of biological sciences?

It is important that the précis should comprise a logical series of arguments and statements. It is inappropriate to list the major findings without describing the importance and relevance of these findings. Your précis should be exclusively based on the presentation of the speaker and not on any other reading you might have done.

Examples of a seminar precis are available on Blackboard.

Deadline for submitting a precis
The précis should be submitted to Blackboard before 4PM, no later than 2 working days after the seminar. This is important so that you can receive feedback on your précis before the next seminar you have to write up. If a précis is submitted late, a mark of 0 will be applied. Students will not be allowed to re-submit. You can expect to receive your marked précis 10 working days from the date of submission or sooner if the next précis falls within this time frame. Students should ensure that a valid reason for late submission is given to the Student Support Office BEFORE THE DEADLINE.

BIOL65161 Statistics & Experimental Design

Credits: 15


The unit aims to introduce students to the methods and tools used in statistical data analysis and the procedures and tools used in the design of experiments.

Learning outcomes

Students will learn to handle, present and analyse data, to design experiments and understand the limits of experimental evidence. More specifically students will learn to:

  • Test hypotheses and assess the statistical significance of results.
  • Handle data, and the best use of graphics and descriptive statistics.
  • Analyse biological data using classical statistical tests.
  • Analyse data using R.
  • Design successful experiments.
  • Critically assess basic experimental designs and analyses in the literature.


Statistical Data Analysis:

Data and graphics using R

  • Overview of statistics and hypothesis testing, types of data and graphs, descriptive statistics, basics of R statistical programming language.

Probability and statistics

  • Probability distributions, Confidence intervals, Bootstraps, Hypothesis testing using a one-sample distribution.

Classical statistical tests

  • Parametric and non-parametric tests to compare variances, means, proportions and counts in contingency tables. Covariance, parametric and non-parametric correlation.


  • Estimating slope and intercept, statistical significance of regression, regression in R, model assumptions, model checking, and transformation.

Analysis of variance

  • One-way, two-way and factorial anova, model simplification, model assumptions and pseudoreplication.

Experimental design

  • This unit provides students with a foundation in experimental design to ensure that they can design effective and efficient experiments. The topics covered include; standardization, sample size, hypothesis testing, experimental units, controls, replication, randomization, independence, pseudoreplication, covariates and power analysis as applied to basic statistical tests.

Teaching and learning methods

Delivery and assessment will be through lectures, workshops, group discussions and e-learning. Students will participate in computer practical sessions, and submit a plan for the experimental design and analysis of their current research project.

Employability skills

Analytical skills-

Students learn how to test hypotheses, analyse data and its significance using various statistical tests on various programmes and how to present data in terms of graphics.

Project management-Students will design successful experiments and manage the processes involved, taking into account the time needed for rigorous data analysis.

Problem solving-Students will understand the limits of experimental design and ways to overcome these problems.

Research-Students will critically assess basic experimental designs and analyses in the literature.

Assessment methods

Online multiple choice exam: 1hr 20mins in length – 50% weighting within the unit

Online Statistics Assessments 1 to 5: 5 x 2 hours in length – 25% weighting within the unit

Critical assessment of literature: 25% weighting within the unit

Statistics practical exercises (compulsory): 5 x 3 hours in length – ( – 5%* )

Project review assignment (compulsory): 1 week in length – ( – 5%* )

(*5% will be subtracted from the final unit mark for each incomplete exercise or assignment)

The overall pass mark for BIOL65161 is 65%. Should you fail to achieve this mark, you will be asked to (re-)submit any missing or failed elements and will have to achieve a mark of at least 65% in the referral exam (online multiple choice format). This unit is not compensatable.

Feedback methods

On-the-spot online feedback will be provided on 5 weekly statistics assessed assignments and a formative test. Students are also provided with oral feedback and individual help in understanding course content and in applying what is learnt to the students’ own projects during practicals and discussion groups.

Recommended reading

The following book is compulsory and is available online via the library.

Crawley, M.J, Statistics: An introduction using R. (Wiley, 2005).

MEDN66111: Laboratory Skills

Credits: 15

Course Unit Lead: Dr Susan Taylor

Administrative Contact: Christie Finegan

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.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

Category of outcome Students should/will be able to:
Knowledge and understanding
  • Develop awareness of current best practice in laboratory health and safety and understand how to keep themselves and those around them safe within a laboratory environment.
  • Develop an understanding of the principles of a range of practical techniques used in the biomedical context and understand how to employ and adapt these within their own research applications.
Intellectual skills
  • Develop critical understanding of the limitations of particular techniques and their applications.
  • Develop an understanding of how to solve problems arising from unexpected results.
Practical skills
  • Acquire the practical skills to enable them to follow written standard laboratory methods and achieve expected outcomes.
  • Acquire technical competence in a range of biomedical and computational techniques.
  • Learn best practice for recording experimental procedures and outcomes in a standard laboratory notebook.
Transferable skills and personal qualities
  • Be able to carry out laboratory techniques alone or in partnership with others safely and efficiently.
  • Demonstrate the ability to record experimental procedures in written form and to interpret experimental results obtained.

Teaching and Learning Methods

The learning and teaching processes will take the form of lectures, practical laboratory classes, laboratory demonstrations and e-learning (completion of on-line formative assessments).

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.

Life Sciences

Students on this programme will be required to sit workshops 4 and 7.

BIOL66121 Research Project 1

Credits: 30


You will conduct the Research Project 1 and 2 in the same lab that you have selected from the options given to you by your programme director at the start of the programme. 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 Research project 1 will involve students formulating a research proposal that arises from their literature studies in close communication with their supervisor.

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 understanding of basic mechanisms, improved diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

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 6 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 if relevant 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 practical skills unit and techniques workshops, and your tutorial and seminar work 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 made good progress with your literature review, you will start to 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. As this is most likely the first time you will create a research proposal it is essential that you start developing this with your supervisor. The preparation of your literature review you will gradually make you more 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 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 MRes, 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 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

Learning Outcomes

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

Feedback from supervisor(s) on drafts of reports

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.

Guidelines for writing the Literature Review

  • 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:

  1. Title (including total word count)
  2. Summary of background literature and research problem
  3. Hypothesis
  4. Aims
  5. Experimental approaches
  6. Significance
  7. Lay Abstract (including word count)
  8. Scientific Abstract (including word count)
  9. References
  • 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.


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

BIOL66132 Research Project 2

Credits: 90

Research project 2 is a major part of the 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 in the initial part of the project. The research project may be laboratory 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 MSc.
  • Develop practical research expertise in chosen areas of the MSc.
  • 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 MSc.
  • 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 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.


The RP2 project is assessed in three ways, the main project report, an oral or poster presentation, and on laboratory 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).

General guidelines for writing an MRes/MSc project report

One aim of your degree 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 broader readership. Your project reports should be based broadly on the format for journal publications and you are advised to look closely at how these are laid out, picking the standard journal of your field. The project report gives you the opportunity to clearly summarise and explain your results independent of if they are positive or negative. You should then use the discussion to demonstrate that you can put your results in the scientific context of current literature in the area. This is a report about your research and not a general literature review.

You should expect some help from your supervisor in writing the report, in the form of one set of comments on a compete draft. You should provide your supervisor with adequate notice when submitting your draft project 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 lab rotation, rather than waiting for the rotation to end before you start writing.

Keep in mind that an aim of the MRes/MSc degree is to provide research training. It should be clear to the examiners what training the research placement has provided. The project reports 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 projects. It is therefore important to provide clear and concise write-ups. 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. The word limit for the project report is 10,000-13,000 words.

Detailed Format of the Project Reports


  • Project Reports should be submitted via Blackboard (details will be forwarded to students nearer the time). It is the student’s responsibility to check that the document uploaded to Blackboard does not undergo any formatting changes or corruption.

(Please note that there are penalties for exceeding the word limit of 13,000 words).

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 reagents will be generated?, 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. It should be limited to around 6-8 pages of typescript. 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 (e.g. for micrographs), figures may be copied or adapted from journals, in which case they must be cited in full within the legend.

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:

  • There is no need to describe at length many standard laboratory procedures. For example, cell culture could be described by: “HeLa cells were grown in a 5% CO2environment, in DMEM supplemented with 10% FBS and containing penicillin (x U/ml) and streptomycin (x U/ml).” Methods of cell splitting etc. need not be referred to unless they are intrinsic to the design of experiments.
  • Many standard protocols use kits (protein assays, mutagenesis kits, in vitro translation kits). These can be described by identifying the kit and stating that methods were followed according to the manufacturer’s instructions (with details of any modifications or specific information, such as the amount of radioactivity used for a translation, or the amount of DNA used for a transfection).
  • The amount of detail also depends on the context. For example, transient transfections can be dealt with briefly by naming the kit, stating the DNA/cell ratio and stating how long after transfection were cells used for the experiment. The raising of stable cell lines will require more significant detail; selection basis, strategy for selecting clones etc. PCR reactions normally require no more description than the primer, polymerase, and reaction cycle details but should be described at length if they are central to a project (quantitation of message, identification of polymorphisms etc.). Standard cloning strategies (digests, ligations, transformation) need only a brief description that identifies reagents and method (e.g. electroporation/heat shock), but should include more detail if methodologies were adapted to overcome technical difficulties or if esoteric strategies were used.

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 experiments could have been improved upon, and to discuss how the project might develop given more time.

Acknowledgements: You may wish to acknowledge the people who have helped you in your project.

References: References must be cited in full (all author names and initials, date, title, journal, volume, pages). References can be cited in the text either by author and date (e.g. Smith, 1996 or Smith and Brown, 1980 or Smith et al., 1990) or by numbering e.g. (34). You are encouraged to use a referencing software package such as Endnote or Reference Manager.

Appendices etc.: Appendices are useful ways to include supplementary data (e.g. DNA sequences) without breaking the flow of the dissertation. Abbreviations should be listed on a separate page, preferably after the Table of Contents. Terms that are abbreviated should be used 3 or more times in the text. They should be written in full the first time they are used, followed by the abbreviation in parenthesis.

Key Dates

Important dates relating to your programme can be found on the timeline which will be provided to you in due course. Your timeline should be your first point of reference and you should ensure you manage your time effectively. Please note that as a postgraduate student you do not have the same semester dates as an undergraduate student. This means that you are expected to be in the lab, or in private study, throughout the month of January as long as the University is open. As a student on an MSc programme, the majority of your time will be spent in the lab (see below) however there are other activities that will also take place. If you have to spend any time out of the lab you should inform your supervisor.

In addition, as part of your MSc, you will be required to attend seminars and tutorials that will not necessarily have a structured timetable. The timeline is a list of each week of the year. In some weeks you will not have any timetabled activities however you are expected to be working either in the lab or in private study writing up your project report.

BIOL65161- Statistics and Experimental Design

This unit is split into two sessions, Statistics and then Experimental Design. This unit will run throughout semester 1.

The dates and times of these sessions are on your timeline.

BIOL60210-Tutorial & Workshop unit

This unit runs from October until August. The Bioethics Tutorial is timetabled to take place in October (please see your timeline). You are also required to attend 2 group tutorials which should be organised with the academic staff member who is leading the tutorial. There are deadlines for the completions of the tutorials. Tutorial 1 should have taken place by Week 30. Tutorial 2 should have taken place by Week 45.

BIOL60330 Scientific Communication is based on the Faculty Seminar Series. The timetable for this unit is dependent on when the seminars run. Your Programme Director will communicate dates of what seminars to attend and when. This unit usually runs from January through until April however this can vary depending on the seminar series. This unit also includes oral presentation and poster sessions, details of which can be found in the timetable below.

Seminars in the Scientific Communications unit

It is recognised that an essential part of being a successful research scientist is the ability to give clear and interesting presentations, and likewise, to be able to assimilate new information presented in the form of a seminar.

In the seminars students will acquire the ability to listen to a presentation, understand the key concepts and record important details, and then summarise its contents in a brief written report. The seminars also encourage students to develop the ability to critically assess the scientific merit of other scientists’ work.
The Faculty of Life Sciences seminar programmes provide an excellent and unique teaching opportunity at postgraduate level. The seminar programme you are required to attend for assessment depends on the type degree you are studying. You will be informed of the seminars you are required to attend in semester 1.

Students are required to attend all of the seminars in their designated seminar series.

The seminars are assessed as follows:

Each student is required to write four assignments that are based on four different seminars.

Each written assignment should be a 500 word précis of a seminar attended by the student.

All four assignments are marked and the best three marks are used for the assessment.

Conduct in Seminars

Students should be aware that it is not appropriate to record or film seminars without the permission of the speaker.

BIOL66121 Research Placement 1 – see timeline for dates.

BIOL66132 Research Placement 2 – see timeline for dates.

Further information on each course unit can be found on the individual course unit specifications.

MSc Research Placements

Your MSc degree requires students to complete two research placements. Note that the placements will run alongside other units, so you should expect to spend 4.5-5 days in the lab. The placements will be in laboratories within the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health.

How to select your research projects and how to get started

In the first week your Programme Director will give you a list of potential research projects. When choosing potential supervisors that you would be interested in undertaking the research project with, you should read recent research papers published by the lab and other relevant papers. It is not necessary to learn each subject area in detail but it is important to have some knowledge of the research topics.

When you have decided which research placements are of interest to you, you should rank your top five in order of interest (1=top choice) and submit your list to your programme director. Your programme director will then allocate projects, to best fit all the students’ interests.

Once your research project placement has been confirmed, make sure that you:

Arrange a time when you can meet with the supervisor either on the first day of your placement or very soon after. You will have to complete an online form to confirm this meeting has taken place.

Have regular meetings with your supervisor.

Discuss with your supervisor a timetable of progress (i.e. what he/she expects you to achieve and when).

Leave time at the end of the placement period to write up your report.

Discuss the draft of the report with your supervisor before you start writing.

Give your supervisor a complete draft before you hand it in.

Restrictions on the choice of research placement:

We aim to provide you with the widest choice of research placements. However, the following restrictions apply:

Students who have performed an undergraduate project in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health cannot return to those labs for placements 1 or 2.

Some placements will involve working with animals. In order to participate in these you must register for the Home Office training course (optional for all students) that takes place in October. Details can be obtained from your PGT Advisor.



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.

Health and safety

In most laboratories, you will come across potential hazards. To minimise the risks to yourself and others you must complete a lab induction form with your supervisor at the start of the first lab placement and forward it on to the Student Support Office. Laboratory coats must be worn in laboratory areas. Project work must be carried out according to the particular guidelines for that piece of work or project in the laboratory in which the project is undertaken. Any accidents occurring in laboratories should be immediately reported to your lab supervisor.

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 since any out of hours working occurs at their discretion. In addition you should make sure that you have signed appropriate risk assessment forms.

Recording Lectures

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.


Programme Management

The programme is managed and operated in accordance with the policies, principles, regulations and procedures of The University of Manchester.

The Programme Directors, have day-to-day responsibility for the management of the programmes and are assisted by the Programme Administration Team.

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee meet 3 times a year. The committee’s functions and responsibilities are to maintain the standards of teaching, to evaluate and revise the programme in the light of feedback, to monitor student progression and to provide a forum for discussion between the University and the students.

The Programme Committee reviews the annual monitoring report and acts on recommendations arising from the annual monitoring process.

The membership of the Programme Committee includes: the Programme Directors; the Programme Administration Team; Teaching Staff and Student Representatives.

The Programme Committee report to the Consortium and School PGT Committee.

External Examiner

The External Examiners for these programmes are:

MSc Biological Sciences, MSc Developmental Biology, MSc Neuroscience – Professor Kevin Moffatt, University of Warwick

MSc Biochemistry, MSc Cell Biology, MSc Cancer Research and Molecular Biomedicine – Professor Alexei V. Tepikin, Institute of Translational Medicine, 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 Administrator in the first instance.

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 at the Staff Student Liaison Committee and/or Programme Committee where 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 Master's Dissertations

The University of Manchester guidance on presentation of taught Master's Dissertations is available at:
Guidance for the presentation of Taught Master's 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 master's dissertation requirements on Blackboard: 


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 (

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:

Guidance on Late Submission

Policy on the Submission of Work for Summative Assessment on Taught Programmes


Academic Malpractice

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.

University Regulations

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 Research Project 1 or BIOL 65161.

The Pass mark for BIOL65161-Statistics and Experimental Design is 65% but is Pass/Fail and not included in averages.

Reassessment will be permitted in up to half of the taught units plus Research Project 1 (i.e. 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:

Postgraduate Degree Regulations

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.

Ethics Procedures

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
  • January
  • May/June
  • July

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 (


Student Support and Guidance

Academic Appeals, Complaints, Conduct and Discipline

Academic Appeals

  • Students have a right of appeal against a final decision of an Examination Board, or a progress committee, or a graduate committee or equivalent body which affects their academic status or progress in the University.
  • Students thinking of appealing should first discuss the matter informally with an appropriate member of staff, in order to better understand the reason for the result or decision and to determine whether the matter can be resolved informally by the School prior to making a formal appeal.
  • Should you wish to proceed to a formal appeal, this must be submitted within the timeframe outlined in the Academic Appeals Procedure to the Faculty Appeals and Complaints Team, Room 3.21, Simon Building, University of Manchester, M13 9PL (e-mail:
  • The Academic Appeals Procedure (Regulation XIX) and associated documents, including the form on which formal appeals should be submitted, can be found at

Student Complaints

  • The University’s Student Complaints Procedure (Regulation XVIII) and associated documents, including a complaints form, can be found at
  • The University has separate procedures to address complaints of bullying, harassment, discrimination and/or victimisation - see
  • 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:

Conduct and Discipline of Students

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 (, for the School to respond to.


Mitigating Circumstances

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

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.


Counselling Service

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:
  • Phone 0161 275 7512; Text 07899 658 790 (only for d/Deaf students);
  • Website:
  • 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:
    • 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

The A-Z of Services can be found on the My Manchester website or here.

Here you can find more information on a wide range of topics such as library services, disability support and careers advice.


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.


Religious Observance

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:

Library Facilities

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.

Royal Literary Fellows (Writing Support)

The Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health has two ‘Writing Fellows’: Sarah Jasmon and Frances Byrne, who are funded by The Royal Literary Fund.

The Writing Fellows provide students with free and confidential one-to-one advice on effective writing, including writing essays, lab reports, literature reviews or other coursework. Students can sign up for a one-to-one tutorial (up to 50 minutes) to help you:

  • plan your study time
  • focus your reading for essay, dissertation or thesis writing
  • express your ideas more clearly
  • answer grammar and punctuation questions
  • discover reading to improve your writing and editing skills
  • increase your writing skills with the aim of improving your grades
  • improve any academic writing – essays, reports, dissertations, etc.


Students can make an appointment during term-time with one of the Fellows by emailing them directly. Their availability and contact details are listed below:

Writing Fellow Availability Contact details
Sarah Jasmon Monday & Tuesdays
Frances Byrne Wednesday & Thursdays


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 ( 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 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.

 * 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