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Year 1 Student Tutorial Handbook

The School of Biological Sciences Tutorial Programme

All Year 1 SBS students are enrolled in the tutorial unit BIOL10000. Tutorials will provide you with knowledge and expertise related to your degree programme as well as transferable skills. The tutorial programme includes small group tutorials and plenary sessions. In the first semester, tutorials are also linked an online unit (Writing and Referencing Skills (WRS); BIOL10741) that will help you to improve your written communication skills. Figure 1 shows the components of the Year 1 Tutorial Unit.

Figure 1. Tutorials in Year 1 include small group and plenary sessions. The Writing and Referencing Skills (WRS; BIOL10741) unit complements tutorial activities and must be passed in order to pass the tutorial unit.

Small group tutorials will take place with other students from your degree programme and your Academic Tutor. Please note that times for your small group tutorials will be arranged by your Academic Tutor and will NOT appear on your ‘myManchester’ timetable.  Please check with your Tutor if you are in any doubt about scheduling of small group tutorials.

Plenary sessions will be delivered by specialists to larger groups of students from multiple degree programmes. This format ensures consistent delivery of information to students, and the plenary sessions cover topics that are relevant to all SBS students. Attendance is compulsory, apart from the optional MCQ Q&A session. Plenary sessions will show on your ‘myManchester’ timetable, but there are usually two sessions for each title, and you will be expected to attend a specific one of these. You must check the dates for plenary sessions on the tutorial Blackboard site (BIOL10000), where there will also be instructions on when and how to attend.  Some plenary sessions have associated pre-session work, which should be completed in advance of your timetabled session. Table 1 lists the Year 1 plenaries.

Table 1. Year 1 plenary sessions.

Plenary title Teaching


Pre-session work Who must attend/complete
Semester 1
Understanding University Assessments 1 YES All Year 1 students
Frontiers of Science 3 No All Year 1 students
How to Write a Scientific Essay 5 (attendance deadline) This is an online plenary. Attendance quiz deadline  Thursday 27/10/22;  16:00. All Year 1 students
MCQ Q&A Session 10 No Attendance is optional
Semester 2
How to Write a Mini Lab Report 4 (deadline TBC) This is an online plenary. Completion deadline TBC. Students enrolled in BIOL10412 or BIOL10422
Employability: Make the most of your First Year 7 No All Year 1 students
Experimental Reporting: Field Course 8 No Students enrolled in a Field Course Unit

Table 1. Year 1 plenary sessions.  Timetabling information, descriptions of the sessions, ILOs, and instructions for pre-session work can be found in the relevant folder in the ‘Plenary Sessions’ area of the BIOL10000 Bb site. Semester 1 teaching week 1 begins on Monday 26th September 2022; Semester 2 teaching week 1 begins on Monday January 30th, 2023. TBC = to be confirmed.

The tutorial programme builds year-on-year and focuses on four major strands of skills: communication (written and oral); professional skills; experimental reporting; and employability, as shown in Figure 2.  Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) for the Level 1 tutorials are available here. The activities in Years 2 and 3 build on the skills you acquire in Year 1.

Figure 2. Summary of the topics you can expect to cover in small group tutorials (top) and plenary sessions (bottom). Your Tutor and Programme Director may, at their discretion, alter the content of your tutorials. FSB = Focused study in Biosciences.

What are the roles of your Academic Tutor and Academic Advisor?

Your Academic Tutor will arrange your small group tutorials and mark your tutorial assessments. Your Academic Tutor will help you to:

  • Develop skills and knowledge relevant to your degree subject during tutorials. Your tutorial studies will help you to put the information given in lectures and practicals into the context of your degree programme.
  • Enhance your employability by helping you acquire a range of transferable skills. These include skills in written and oral communication, organisation of information, personal interaction, teamwork and the use of information technology. Employers value these ‘transferable skills’. Tutorials will also help you learn to manage your time during your degree course and improve your revision and examination techniques. A detailed list of skills valued by employers and suggestions for how you can develop them is provided in Appendix 1.

Every student in the School is assigned an Academic Advisor. In Year 1, your Academic Tutor will also be your Academic Advisor. Your Academic Advisor is normally the same person throughout your course and is your main link to the School and the University. They can advise you on academic matters, personal problems (if needed), and can provide references when you are applying for jobs. Further information about Academic Advisors and One-to-One Academic Advisor Meetings is in the First Level Handbook.


Your tutorial assignments are listed in Table 2. These will be marked by your Academic Tutor and returned to you with feedback that will allow you to improve your work for the next assignment. It is important that you download and view your feedback as soon as possible once it is available. Instructions for doing so are here. If you don’t understand some of the feedback you have been given you should ask your Academic Tutor about it.

In order to pass the Tutorial Unit, three separate elements are required:

  1. You must have satisfactory attendance at small-group tutorial and plenary sessions.
  2. You have to obtain an overall mark of at least 40% in your tutorial assignments.
  3. You must pass the Writing and Referencing Skills unit (BIOL10741).

Tutorials are an important part of the attendance requirements for your degree course and compensation for partial failure of unit examinations is available only to students who have passed their tutorial unit. In addition, students who fail their tutorial unit due to poor marks or absences will be removed from Four Year Programmes, and are required to complete a re-sit essay during the summer vacation. For further details see the First Level Handbook.

Failure of the Tutorial Unit

Level 1 students can fail the tutorial unit:

  1. by having more than one unexcused absence from small-group tutorials or plenary sessions, OR
  2. by getting an overall mark below 40% in tutorial assignments, OR
  3. by failing the Writing and Referencing Skills unit (BIOL10741).

Tutorial Assignment Deadlines

Table 2 shows the deadlines for tutorial assignments common to all degree programmes. Note that you may have additional, program specific, deadlines for assignments that will be set by your Academic Tutor. Late submission (i.e., after the deadline without an agreed extension) of tutorial assessments will be penalised by mark deduction every day (or part thereof, including weekends and holidays) beyond the deadline.

DASS-related automatic extensions, if applicable to you, can be used for the Semester 2 Essay and may apply to the Programme-Specific Assignment, depending on its nature, as group work or presentations don’t qualify for the extension.  Other tutorial assignments do NOT qualify for DASS-related automatic extensions. 

Table 2. Year 1 tutorial assignments.

Assignment Deadlines (usually Thursdays at 16:00) Marks Submission Feedback type
Semester 1
Scientist Summary TBA with Academic Tutor (week 1) 0-100% By email to Academic Tutor Formative
Frontiers of Science Summary 20/10/22 0-100% Assessments area BIOL10000 Bb Formative
Semester 1 Essay – Draft 10/11/22 Plagiarism report only Assessments area BIOL10000 Bb Formative
Semester 1 Essay – Final 24/11/22 0-100% Assessments area BIOL10000 Bb Formative
Semester 1 Poster TBA with Academic Tutor (week 10) 0-100% (33% of mark for BIOL10000) Via email to tutor and presentation in tutorial Summative
Semester 2
Semester 2 Essay 9/3/23 0-100% (33% of mark for BIOL10000) Assessments area BIOL10000 Bb Summative
Programme-specific assignment TBA with Academic Tutor 0-100% (34% of mark for BIOL10000) TBA with Academic Tutor Summative
Semester 2 Mini Lab Report Q & A* TBA with Academic Tutor (week 11 or 12) 0-100% TBA with Academic Tutor Summative



BIOL10412 or 10422 only)

Table 2. Year 1 tutorial assignments. Additional assignments may be specified by your Tutor. TBA = to be arranged; Bb = Blackboard. The BIOL10000 Bb site can be accessed here. Formative feedback: this is intended to highlight areas that you need to work on and any marks awarded are not included in the overall mark for BIOL10000. Summative feedback: also helps you to improve your work and marks awarded count towards the total for BIOL10000 or another unit. *Students enrolled in a Field course unit will be given instructions by their Tutors on an alternative experimental reporting activity in Semester 2.

Table 3 shows the deadlines for the Writing and Referencing Skills unit. The first module, ‘Academic Malpractice’ will be open from Welcome Week, with a deadline at the end of week 2. Gaining a score of 100% in this module is required to gain access to the other modules. The remaining modules can be completed any time after this date and before their respective deadlines.

Table 3. Writing and Referencing Skills unit (BIOL10741) deadlines.

Assessment Available from: Deadline week Deadline dates (Fridays at 16:00)
Academic Malpractice 19/9/22 2 7/10/22
Essential Language Skills Once Academic Malpractice module has been passed with a score of 100% 4 21/10/22
Academic Style 5 28/10/22
Text Handling 6 4/11/22
Referencing the right way 7 11/11/22
Planning ahead 8 18/11/22
Performing a search 9 25/11/22
Endnote online 10 2/12/22

Table 3. Writing and Referencing Skills unit (BIOL10741) deadlines. Weeks correspond to Semester 1 teaching weeks, where week 1 begins on Monday 26/9/2022.

Formatting of Tutorial Assignments

All written tutorial assignments apart from posters should be formatted in the following way: Arial 10pt font, 2.5cm margins, 1.5 line spacing. Page limit and referencing style for each assignment will be specified by your Academic Tutor. Mark penalties will be applied where assignments are formatted incorrectly or exceed the specified page limit.

How to submit tutorial assignments

Most assignments should be submitted via the Assessments area of the BIOL10000 unit Blackboard site, as outlined in Table 2. Your Academic Tutor will advise you how to submit any other tutorial assignments. The submission area for each BIOL10000 assignment that is submitted via Blackboard specifies whether or not the assignment is eligible for an automatic extension. You may want to remind your tutor if you qualify for a DASS-related automatic extension.


Attendance at small group tutorials and plenary sessions is compulsory. More than one unexcused absence from either small-group tutorials or plenary sessions over the academic year will result in failure of the tutorial unit; exclusion from Four-Year (e.g., language, MSci, Enterprise, and Industrial Placement) programmes; loss of compensation for exams; and a summer re-sit essay assignment. Additional unexcused absences from tutorials may lead to the issuing of a formal warning letter. Unexcused absences may have detrimental effects on decisions on progression to subsequent years of your degree programme, or even lead to exclusion from study in the Faculty. For further information on this and other related matters, please read the relevant sections of the First Level Handbook.

Small group tutorials

Attendance at small group tutorials will be monitored by your Academic Tutor. In the case of student-led tutorials, where students meet in the absence of their tutor, attendance is also compulsory and will be recorded by a person chosen in advance and passed on to the Academic Tutor. If you are absent from a tutorial or unable to complete a tutorial assignment due to illness, make sure that you follow the guidelines on ill health set out in the First Level Handbook. You must inform your Academic Tutor of an absence no later than the day and start time of your tutorial session AND submit a self-certification form to the Student Support Office no later than the day of the tutorial session that you will miss. It is your responsibility to provide this information.

If you are unable to attend for any other good reason, you must supply documentary evidence to your Academic Tutor strongly supporting your reasons for absence.

Plenary sessions

Attendance at all plenary titles, apart from the MCQ Q&A session in Semester 1 week 10 (see Table 1), is compulsory. Failure to attend a Plenary Session will count as a tutorial absence. This includes completion of the attendance quizzes for the online plenaries – e.g., ‘How to Write a Scientific Essay’ in Semester 1 week 5. It is your responsibility to regularly check the ‘Plenary Sessions’ Area on the BIOL10000 Blackboard site for information about timetabling and attendance, as this is subject to change during the year. Most plenary titles will have two identical sessions scheduled to accommodate all students. Both of these will display on your timetable but you only need to attend one session. However it MUST be the one timetabled for your degree programme or unit, as detailed on the BIOL10000 Blackboard site. If the session allocated to your degree programme clashes with a language or other unit, you may be permitted attend the other session but only by prior arrangement (at least one working day’s notice) with the student support office.

If you are ill on the day of a plenary session, you must contact the student support office prior to the start of the plenary session in order to obtain an excused absence. Contacting your Academic Tutor instead of the student support office will result in your absence being unexcused.

Small Group Tutorial Activities and Plenary Sessions

The content of small group tutorials will depend on your degree programme and your Academic Tutor, but you should expect to participate in most of the activities listed below.

Semester 1: Developing Communication Skills

Introduction and Semester 1 Tutorial Schedule

Your small group tutorials, the Writing and Referencing Skills Unit and the tutorial plenary sessions all work together in semester 1 to develop your skills in communicating science. Activities and assignments that are linked to small group tutorials, plenaries and/or the WRS unit are indicated by the appropriate logo, as per Figure 1. An outline schedule for Semester 1 is shown in Table 4. Tutorial activities and assignments, including plenaries, are often described by week number (e.g., Semester 1 week 3). These refer to teaching weeks, with week 1 of teaching starting on Monday September 26th 2022 for Semester 1 and on Monday 30th January 2023 for Semester 2.

Table 4. Semester 1 Outline Tutorial Schedule. 

Teaching Week Small-group Tutorials Plenary Sessions BIOL10000 submission DEADLINES
1  1 Tutor-led tutorial Understanding University Assessments Submit summary of scientist by email to Tutor.
2  1 Tutor-led tutorial  
1 Student-led tutorial to be held by week 4
Frontiers of Science (FoS)  
4 Submit FoS summary via Bb. Thursday 16:00
5  1 Tutor-led tutorial  How to write a Scientific Essay [Online] Attendance quiz for Scientific Essay online plenary (Bb). Thursday 16:00
6 Reading week: no tutorial
7  2 Tutor-led and 1 student-led tutorial(s) Submit draft essay via Bb. Thursday 16:00
9 Submit final essay via Bb. Thursday 16:00
10 Semester 1 Poster Presentations (Tutor-led) MCQ Q&A Session Poster submission date TBA by tutor.
12 1 Tutor-led tutorial

Table 4. Semester 1 Outline Tutorial Schedule. Your Tutor or Programme Director may provide an alternative schedule at their discretion. Bb = Blackboard; TBA = to be arranged. MCQ = multiple choice question.

This schedule doesn’t contain the dates and times of your small group tutorial sessions, which will be arranged by your Academic Tutor. You should ensure that you record times of your tutorials and the assignment deadlines. More information about each plenary session, including details of pre-session work, will be available on the BIOL10000 Blackboard site in advance of each plenary.

BIOL10741 Writing and Referencing Skills (WRS) Unit

This compulsory online unit is available on Blackboard. It provides resources to help you with written communication, scientific referencing, and avoiding academic malpractice. These skills are essential for the year 1 tutorial assessments, including essays and lab reports and will form the basis for written assessments during your time at University. A PDF covering the writing skills content is available to download to help with future assignments.

Please ensure that you read the BIOL10741 course content pages on Blackboard for information on the running of the course. You MUST achieve 100% in the Academic Malpractice module AND achieve an average score of 70% or above for the seven WRS modules to pass BIOL10741 and therefore the tutorial unit. You will receive a mark for the WRS unit from the seven WRS assessments.

The ‘Academic Malpractice’ module will be available from Welcome Week and must be completed by 4 pm on Friday 16th October (week 2). The ‘Academic Malpractice’ module must be passed with a score of 100% to pass and gain access to the rest of the WRS course. The remaining WRS modules and assessments can then be completed at any time before their respective deadlines (Table 3). Submission deadlines are 4pm on the Fridays of weeks 4-10. Extensions are not permitted.

Queries about the BIOL10741 WRS unit should be directed to the Unit Coordinator, Lindsay MacDougall. Technical queries, including problems accessing the course, need to be reported to the eLearning team via the dedicated link on Blackboard (a tab, marked technical support, can be found in the menu on the left-hand side of the BIOL10741 Blackboard unit site). Queries on the library modules (5-7 on database searches and EndNote) should be addressed to (for technical queries) or (for queries on content).

Semester 1 Tutorial Activities and Plenary Sessions

Understanding University Assessments Plenary

This plenary session will familiarise you with assessments at University, including marking schemes and feedback. Further information is available in the Plenary Sessions area of the BIOL10000 Bb site. There is pre-session work to complete in advance of this plenary. Please ensure that you attend the session specified for your degree programme and follow the instructions to record your attendance.

‘Avoiding Plagiarism’ Activity

Plagiarism is a type of Academic Malpractice that you need to understand and avoid. Plagiarism is the use (theft) of someone else’s work without proper acknowledgement, presenting the material as if it were one’s own. It is totally unacceptable in any form. The First Level Handbook gives further information on plagiarism, and the University’s guidance academic malpractice can be viewed here. It is important to note that ‘self-plagiarism’, where parts of your own previously submitted work are re-used, is also unacceptable.

In Semester 1, you will do an activity with your tutorial group on how to recognise and avoid plagiarism. The first module in the Writing and Referencing Skills unit will also teach you about plagiarism and other forms of academic malpractice. An online resource with more information on plagiarism and how to avoid it is available via MLE.

Later in Semester 1 you will have to opportunity to use the University’s plagiarism detection software on an essay that you will submit.

Any first-year student found to have plagiarised work will have to attend an interview with a panel of academic staff. The panel will determine a suitable penalty, which may include a mark of zero for the assignment or for the course unit. Penalties for Academic Malpractice are increasingly severe in later years of the programme!

Scientific Summary Assignments and Frontiers of Science Plenary

Effective summarisation is essential for lecture note-taking, exam preparation, and written communication. In semester 1 you will write two summaries:

  1. Weeks 0/1: You will write a summary about a scientist related to your degree programme. Further guidance on this activity will be provided by your Academic Tutor.
  2. Weeks 3/4: You will write a summary of a plenary lecture given by a leading researcher from the Faculty. This is the ‘Frontiers of Science’ plenary session, and it will be aimed at a general audience, so don’t worry if you know little about the subject before you attend. Following the lecture, you should summarize the content of the talk in less than 1 A4 page, following the general tutorial formatting guidelines and the assignment brief. Your summary should be submitted via the Assessments area of the BIOL10000 Blackboard site.  Your Academic Tutor will provide feedback on this summary, but his assignment does not count towards the tutorial unit mark.

Semester 1 Essay writing Assignment and ‘How to Write a Scientific Essay Plenary’


Success in every degree programme involves learning how to organise your thoughts and communicate an understanding of a topic. An essay is not simply a series of facts, but a structured presentation of a logical argument, backed up with evidence, to establish a point of view. Writing an essay therefore requires careful research and planning, which you will learn how to do through small group tutorial activities, the ‘How to write a Scientific Essay’ plenary’, and the Writing and Referencing Skills Unit. The WRS PDF also contains ‘A practical Guide to Writing Essays’, which you may find useful.

In Semester 1 you will complete a three-page essay on a topic selected by your Academic Tutor. Your essay should be formatted according to the guidelines for tutorial work; references and figures are not included in the page count. To facilitate your understanding of plagiarism and how to detect and eliminate it from your work, a draft essay will be submitted in week 7 via Blackboard and put through the University’s plagiarism detection software TurnItIn. Once the draft essay submission deadline has passed, you will be able to see the plagiarism report on your essay, which you should save as a PDF for future reference. Instructions for how to interpret the plagiarism report are available here.

If necessary, you should then edit your essay to eliminate plagiarised material. Even if no edits are needed, the final essay must nonetheless be re-submitted in week 9. The final version of your essay will also go through a plagiarism check, but this will only be for staff use and will be considered when your essay is marked. If you do not submit a draft of the essay in week 7 you may still submit a final version for assessment, but you will not be allowed to see the plagiarism report on your final version. The final essay will be marked by your Academic Tutor, who will provide feedback that you should read and save so that you can improve your writing for future assignments, including the Semester 2 Essay, which counts towards your tutorial mark. Instructions for how to view feedback are available here. Late (if not approved by your Tutor or the Student Support Office) or non-submission of the final essay will result in a Fail for this assignment.

You will find the submission site and instructions for submitting your essay in the Assessments area of the BIOL10000 Blackboard site. Should you have any technical difficulties uploading your file you should submit an eLearning enquiry through Blackboard (a tab can be found on the left-hand side of the tutorial unit site) or contact the Student Support Office.

Semester 1 Poster Assignment

Towards the end of Semester 1, you will choose a topic for a group poster in consultation with your Academic Tutor. As part of a group, you will research the topic, design, and prepare a digital poster for submission to your Tutor by an agreed deadline prior to Thursday of week 10. Further information and instructions will available from the BIOL10000 Blackboard site.

Semester 2: Developing Programme-specific Skills

Introduction and Semester 2 Tutorial Schedule

As in Semester 1, this schedule doesn’t contain the dates and times of your small group tutorial sessions, which will be arranged by your Academic Tutor.

Table 5. Semester 2 Suggested Tutorial Schedule.

Teaching Week Small-group Tutorials Plenary Sessions BIOL10000 submission DEADLINES (Thursdays 16:00) Related submission DEADLINES (not BIOL10000)
1  1 Tutor-led tutorial

3 tutor-led and 1 student-led tutorials before the end of week 7

4 How to Write a Mini Lab Report [ONLINE] (BIOL10412/22 students only.) Attendance quiz for Mini Lab Report online plenary (Deadline TBC)
6 Submit Semester 2 Essay via Bb. 
7 Employability: Make the most of your First Year
8 1 Tutor-led tutorial (or week 9) Experimental Reporting: field course.  
9 1 Student-led tutorial     Submit individual lab reports on BIOL10412/22 Bb sites. BIOL10412/22 students only.
10 Submit group reports on BIOL10412/22 Bb sites. BIOL10412/22 students only.
11 1 Tutor-led tutorial

Table 5. Semester 2 Suggested Tutorial Schedule. Your Tutor or Programme Director may provide an alternative schedule at their discretion. See Table 1 for details of which students should complete each of the Experimental Reporting plenaries. TBC = to be confirmed; Bb = Blackboard. Teaching week 1 of Semester 2 begins Monday 30th January 2023.

Semester 2 Tutorial Activities and Plenary Sessions

Semester 2 Essay Assignment

In Semester 1 you were introduced to the basic process of essay writing through the ‘How to Write a Scientific Essay’ plenary, the Writing and Referencing Skills Unit, work in small group tutorials, and preparing the Semester 1 Essay. In Semester 2, you will extend and develop the skills you learnt in Semester 1 by researching and writing a three-page essay of relevance to your degree programme. Your Academic Tutor will agree a title for the essay with you. You will be expected to avoid plagiarism and to apply the principles taught in Semester 1 relating to referencing. However, you will not be given the chance to see the plagiarism report and make edits to this essay after submission and the essay you submit must be the final version. Submission is via the Assessments area of the BIOL10000 Blackboard site.

Experimental Reporting

Mini Lab Report or Field Course Report Assignment and Plenaries

In Semester 2, students enrolled on field course units will need to produce a field course report, and students enrolled on lab-based practical units (BIOL10412/10422) will produce a mini lab report. To help with these assignments, all students will take part in tutorial activities aimed at improving experimental reporting skills. Generic guidelines for writing lab reports can also be found in the WRS unit (BIOL10741) PDF.

Students enrolled on lab-based practical units (BIOL10412/10422) will work individually and in small groups to produce a mini lab report that describes an experiment from their practical unit. Students will then answer questions about the content of their report during a question and answer tutorial session. There will be an online  ‘How to Write the Mini Lab Report’ plenary available to help with preparing the report. The deadline for completing this plenary will be provided in Semester 2.

Field course students will be provided with information regarding the format and length of their project report in the assessment area on the Blackboard of their field course unit. There will be a plenary session for Field Course students (Experimental Reporting: Field Course Report) in Semester 2 week 8.

Professional Skills

Programme-specific Assignments

Your group will complete one of the following types of programme-specific assignments. Details will be provided by your Academic Tutor.

Data analysis/Problem Solving

These activities are designed to complement skills acquired in the Practical Module BIOL10401 and will focus on quantitative and analytical problem-solving tasks relevant to your degree programme.

Group-based learning (GBL) sessions

GBL provides a means of developing team-working skills while exploring a topical issue relevant to your degree subject (see Appendix 2 for guidelines on running a GBL activity). Your group will choose or be allocated a subject for investigation, in consultation with your Academic Tutor. As a group, you then research the subject, deciding amongst yourselves who should do what and the approach that should be taken. On completion of your research, all members of the group should contribute to the final outcome, which could be an oral presentation, written article or poster. The performance of the group will be assessed by your Academic Tutor and this will contribute to your overall tutorial mark. Note that, if you are asked to give a short talk, the My Learning Essentials website has some excellent resources to help with preparing and delivering oral presentations.


What are Employability Skills?

Employability skills are the skills needed in working environments. Employability skills can be very specific and technical, like understanding HPLC or how to run a PCR; or they can be general, such as demonstrating effective communication skills.

Why are employability skills important in year 1?

Employability skills are always important, and you will already have developed a range of skills from your experiences that have led you to The University of Manchester. If in year 1 you’re looking for a part-time job or summer internship, or plan to go on placement later on in your course, you will be asked to write about and discuss your employability skills during application and interview. The sooner you have the chance to build your range of skills and reflect on these – the better.

What skills will I get this year?

In year 1 the employability focus is about settling in and trying new things. You will experience a lot of new subjects, people and activities. We want to help you make the most of your time here and getting off to a good start is a key part of that. To help with this, there will be an Employability plenary session entitled ‘Make the most of your First Year’ in Week 7 of Semester 2. For a specific run-down of all the employability skills you can gain this year check out Appendix 1: Employability; your module descriptions also detail the skills you will have the chance to develop.

Keep a record of your employability skills

It’s worth thinking about how you can keep a record of the skills and new experiences you develop during the year. One way is to create a ‘living CV’ which acts like a list or summary of all the things you’ve done and what you’ve learnt. The benefit of this approach is when you come to write your CV to send out then you have all the evidence in one place. Typical headings would be education, jobs, volunteering, positions of responsibility and interests. For more information on CVs check out the advice on Careers Service website and follow the Get CV Ready Pathway on CareerConnect.

The Careers Service

The Careers Service offers support and advice throughout your time at The University of Manchester, to help you make the most of your time here and best prepare you for your future.

Common queries from first year students are:

  • How can I get work experience or a part-time job?
  • How can I find out about career options?
  • I don’t like my course, what else can I do?
  • I don’t know what I want to do!

For full details of how the Careers Service can support you plus a wealth of help and information, visit the website. To find out about opportunities, events and other activities, visit CareerConnect. They have an information desk in the Atrium in University Place staffed from Monday to Thursday 10-4pm, Fridays 10-1pm.

They run events for first year students through to postgrads, advertise part-time jobs and internships, and bring alumni and employers on campus for you to talk to. They offer a personalised service with guidance appointments, applications advice as well as a programme of drop-ins, workshops and careers fairs.

The Biology, Medicine and Health Careers Consultants are: Suzanne Creeber and Elizabeth Wilkinson. They organise workshops and activities in collaboration with the school, alongside delivering the annual Employability Plenary. You can contact Suzanne and Elizabeth at, connect with them on LinkedIn and book individual guidance meetings using CareerConnect.

Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellows

The Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellows are professional, published authors whose role is to help you strengthen your writing.

Sign up for a one-to-one tutorial to help you:

  • Plan your study time.
  • Focus your reading for essay 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.

Further information about the writers’ expertise, and instructions for appointment booking are available on the BIOL10000 Blackboard site.

Help with English Language Skills

Should you need help with English language skills, you can contact the University Language Centre.

The PASS Scheme

PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) is a peer support scheme whereby Year 1 students come together to study under the guidance of higher year students – PASS leaders and PASS advisors – who provide pastoral and academic support. For academic support, weekly unit-specific PASS workshops will be run by PASS leaders who will propose collaborative activities to check your understanding, and help you catch up or revise with peers. For pastoral support, your tutorial group (~10 students) will be assigned to a PASS advisor, who will provide timely PASS advice sessions on student life, university expectations, study skills and more. They will also set up a chatgroup with you, so that you can support each other daily. PASS is overseen by a dedicated staff coordinator: Dr Michael Smith

The current schedule for PASS 2022 is shown below. The academic sessions are degree specific and will focus on the units most relevant to your tutor group to study/revise.

Week Material
0 PASS Scavenger Hunt
1 Organisation – using Blackboard, sorting timetable and not missing deadlines, time management. What is expected of me? How should I organise myself?
2 Not taking – why, what, how, and how long?
3 PASS academic session
4 PASS academic session
5 Essay writing and referencing – get started
7 PASS academic session
8 House hunting
10 PASS academic session
11 PASS academic session

More information about PASS can be found on the SBS-PASS Blackboard site, where you will find:

  • The PASS workshops material available after the sessions have taken place.
  • PeerWise: our peer-assisted MCQ database, created and curated by students. Test yourselves with questions created by others, but also benefit from creating your own questions (best way to learn) and entering model answers, which others can improve on.
  • Mentoring resources on various study skills, our pre-arrival guide for settling in Manchester and FAQs (frequently asked questions) for international students.

Student Feedback

In order to help us maximise the benefits that you gain from tutorials, we need feedback from you, both on the tutorial activities and on your Academic Tutor’s performance. For this purpose, you will be asked to complete unit surveys at the end of each semester. There will be a general survey for BIOL10000 to give feedback on the tutorial plenaries, and a separate survey run via Blackboard to give feedback on your small group tutorials.  It is important for us to have your opinion, as these surveys will be used to determine how plenaries and tutorials are conducted in future years. Details of how to access and complete the surveys will be emailed to you each semester.

Appendix 1: Employability

This table outlines some transferable skills that employers seek and ideas for developing these so that you can use them for job applications and in interviews in the future.

What are employers looking for? What does that mean? How can you develop this skill?
Ability to articulate what you have to offer Reflect on the skills you have gained throughout your tutorials and other units.

Develop good communication skills so that you can talk about your skills and provide evidence that you have them to potential employers.

Reflection: keep updating your CV and keeping a record of new skills.

Communication Skills
Oral presentations (tutorials; some lecture units; lab meetings). Essays (tutorials; many lecture units). Debates (some tutorials; some lecture units).

Creativity & innovation Being able to come up with new ideas, approaches and solutions. Thinking ‘outside the box’ and being able to suggest new/improved ways of doing things. You will have the opportunity to be creative in terms of your approach to assignments – e.g., ideas for poster topics in tutorials. Your final year project will present opportunities to be innovative in overcoming obstacles.
Critical thinking Being able to analyse an idea or a piece of work objectively and weigh up its strengths and weaknesses. Recognise your own biases and be open to new ideas if evidence supports them. Essays and oral presentations will include structured presentations of a logical argument. You will read and critically analyse primary literature in tutorials, and build on these skills during your extended essay and literature review.
Cultural awareness & sensitivity Experience of interacting with individuals from a range of different backgrounds and ability to adapt your approach to suit the needs of the people you are working with. We have a diverse staff and student body so you are likely to interact with individuals from a range of backgrounds during your tutorials and project, or as an ambassador or PASS leader. The Manchester Leadership Programme (MLP) and any volunteering you undertake provide opportunities to work within the local community, which is also diverse.
Leadership skills Proven ability to lead a team effectively. You may have the opportunity to act as a leader in a tutorial assignment or project, or as a senior ambassador. You can also seek leadership opportunities in the MLP or as a PASS Leader.
Numeracy Being able to work with numbers is a key skill and may range from basic mental arithmetic to being able to analyse and interpret data. Data Handling modules, practicals, field courses and projects will help you develop your numerical skills and ability to use statistics. Numerical skills are required in practicals and experimental reporting to work out concentrations and dilutions, and to calculate whether results are statistically significant.
Presentation skills Proven ability to communicate your ideas both visually and orally. You will undertake presentations in tutorials, field courses and as part of your final year project. Becoming an ambassador, PASS leader or student representative gives you further opportunity to develop your presentation skills.
Project management Project management requires effective planning, and management of resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project objectives. Your final year project will be the main opportunity to develop this skill, but you may also manage smaller projects in some lecture units, within the MLP, or as a PASS leader or PASS co-ordinator.
Problem solving Grasp what needs to be done and reach a satisfactory solution to a problem. Tutorials will include practice of problem solving in preparation for data handling in practical write-ups and the final year programme specific problem paper.
Self-awareness Know what your skills, strengths and weaknesses are. Think of examples of how and when you have demonstrated these. When you have completed a task (e.g., formal presentation, essay, exam) reflect on your performance. Write examples and state what you intend to do differently next time.
Self-management (ability to manage learning) Effectively manage your time and complete work within deadlines. Most units will require you to manage your time and submit assignments to deadlines. Your final year project will hone this skill, and will need to fit around other demands on your time such as coursework essays and reading for lecture units.
Self-esteem & confidence Belief in your capabilities to achieve a goal or an outcome effectively. If you have a strong sense of self efficacy you are more likely to challenge yourself with difficult tasks and be intrinsically motivated. You will have the opportunity to rise to the challenges provided by completing independent work to deadlines (e.g., extended essay) and to learn from constructive criticism and feedback (e.g., peer review in tutorials; discussion groups and feedback from tutor or project supervisor).
Teamwork Proven ability to work well within a team AND an understanding of the role you take within a team. Most projects and tutorial activities involve some teamwork, as do some final year lecture units. Aim to take on different roles so that you experience as many as possible. Reflect on your strengths and development needs.
Research skills This may refer to researching literature, searching databases, identifying appropriate resources and extracting key information or may refer to practical scientific research. Research is also an important skill when looking for and applying for jobs. You should do extra reading around your lectures including reading recent primary literature and review articles. More extensive research will be required for essays, your extended essay and literature review. Your main opportunity for research will be during your final year project.
Written Communication Effectively organising your ideas and communicating these in a coherent manner. Being able to use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. Throughout your degree you will develop your written communication skills through your assignments such as essays, Year 2 extended essay and project write ups.

For further help see The ‘Develop your skills’ section contains ideas on how to develop these skills beyond your degree (plus guidance on how recruiters assess for them).

The My Learning Essentials training programme offers careers advice through face–to-face workshops and online resources.

Appendix 2: Group Based Learning (GBL) Tutorials

What happens in a GBL tutorial?

These are general guidelines for GBL tutorials, which may be modified at the discretion of your Academic Tutor. GBL tutorials are run by students and the Academic Tutor is the facilitator and does not take part, other than to provide guidance if needed. Further guidance on group work is available on the My Learning Essentials website.

A specific topic, short article from a journal or a research paper is chosen. In the first session students decide on the primary learning objectives of the topic and how they are going to go about researching these. This should be done using a wide variety of information resources focused on the primary literature.

At the second session (usually student-led; the Academic Tutor is not present) the group have a full detailed discussion of the topic, focusing on the primary learning objectives. During this session one of the students should act as chairperson. Students should also decide on how the material will be presented the following week to their Tutor. The final session is either a formal presentation of the topic to the Academic Tutor or a discussion of the topic between the Academic Tutor and students.

Attendance at all sessions is compulsory as a primary aim of GBL is to develop an awareness of teamwork skills and increase the knowledge base of the whole group. Non-attendance jeopardises the learning of all other group members as individuals. For this reason, recordings of attendance and minutes of meetings in the absence of the Academic Tutor must be taken and be open to review by the Academic Tutor at any time.

Guidelines for the running of GBL tutorials

  • A chairperson must be appointed at the beginning of each GBL to control the running of the discussion. Attendance must also be recorded.
  • Another student is appointed as secretary and should record the agreed learning objectives and email these to all members of the group.
  • All students should make a record of the agreed topics to be researched.
  • Group communication is essential and everyone in the group should have input (this is strongly dependent on the chairperson).
  • The sessions should cover set one-hour time periods. This helps to focus the group and develops time and resource management.
  • The research information should come from a range of sources (for example, primary literature, textbooks, internet, reviews, personal experience etc.).