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2016handbookfound2022 entry

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Welcome to this issue of the undergraduate programme handbook for the Foundation Year programme in Biosciences of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Manchester.

We would like to extend a warm welcome to you as a new student who has recently joined this programme, as the first part of a period of study leading to a bachelor’s degree (BSc) or Undergraduate Master’s degree (MSci) from The University of Manchester. The Foundation Year of study is delivered primarily by staff on the premises of Xaverian College, Manchester, with some teaching undertaken on the University campus. We hope you thoroughly enjoy your Foundation Year and subsequent further studies and we hope that in four or five years’ time you will have obtained a degree of which you can be proud.

Remember that, as a registered student of the University, all of the facilities that are available to other students are available to you. This includes recreational and social facilities such as the Students’ Union (UMSU) and Advice Service, the academic support services such as the Library, Computing Facilities, Careers and Counselling Service and the full range of university accommodation, plus lots more.

There are many exciting things to do as a University student so ensure you make the most of the facilities, both academic and social, and enjoy yourself.


One of the University’s three core goals is “To provide a superb higher education and learning experience to outstanding students, irrespective of their backgrounds, and to produce graduates distinguished by their intellectual capabilities, employability, leadership qualities, and their ability and ambition to contribute to society” (from the University of Manchester Strategic Vision 2020).

Our Student Charter, developed jointly by the University and the Students’ Union, is an important part of how we establish and maintain clear mutual expectations for the experience of all students: undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research. It sets out what we can expect from each other as partners in a learning community.

The Charter provides an overview of the Manchester experience.

To access the Charter please go to:

General Information

Sources of Information

This handbook gives you much useful information. It is designed to serve as a starting point if you have questions or problems.

It gives the aims and objectives of this year of study and a brief description of the programme.  It tells you about the
support that is provided for you as a student and how you can influence the development of your programme. It tells
you about the resources available to you as a student, those you will use as a compulsory part of your programme such as lecture rooms, laboratories and computer facilities and those available to support your learning such as the College and University libraries. Perhaps most important of all it tells you how your programme is assessed.

During Induction Week, you will meet your Xaverian advisor. If there is anything you want to know, or any help you need, talk first to your advisor. If you need help, advice or clarification on any academic or personal matter, seek help straight away. Any member of staff is willing to help, but, where possible, you should initially contact one of a number of designated people as outlined below.

Advisors at Xaverian College

At the start of the academic year, you will be allocated to an advisor at Xaverian College. Your advisor will be one of the following members of staff:

Mr Ray Skwierczynski (Ray Ski) (

Mr Carlton Pass (

Mr Geoff Garnham (

First and foremost your advisors are people with whom you can discuss any difficulties that you are experiencing whether these are related to your academic study or to your personal life. An advisor cannot be expected to know the answer to every problem but will talk things over with you and set out your options wherever appropriate and will refer you elsewhere within the College or the University if needed.

Secondly, your advisors will monitor your academic performance in your assignments and in-class tests and will discuss your progress with you. You will be allocated appointments to speak to your Xaverian College advisor to discuss academic matters and any personal problems. Your advisor will also be available at other times should you need to speak to them.

The Programme Director

The Programme Director for the Foundation Year is Dr Katherine Hinchliffe (

The Programme Director is involved in overseeing the smooth running of the Foundation Year and ensuring the Foundation Year course is delivered to a high standard. The Programme Director liaises with Xaverian staff at management meetings and chairs the exam board and student-staff liaison committee meetings. If you have any academic or personal concerns please feel free to get in touch with your Programme Director.

Academic tutors/Academic Advisors at the University of Manchester

At the start of the academic year, you will be allocated to a tutorial group at the University. You will be allocated to one of the following members of academic staff:

Your allocated tutor will lead your academic tutorial group at the university and will also be your allocated academic advisor. Although there are no scheduled one-to-one meetings with your academic advisor, you can arrange to meet with your academic advisor for advice on academic matters or to discuss any personal problems.

Senior Advisor at the University of Manchester

There is also a Senior Advisor and Deputy Senior Advisors for the School of Biological Sciences who are available (via the Student Support Office in the School of Biological Sciences at The University) to discuss any particularly serious problems, or anything you would rather not discuss with your Academic Advisor (including the situation where you may feel it necessary to request a change in Academic Advisor).  If you would like to meet with one of the Senior Advisors, the Student Support Office reception staff will be able to arrange an appointment for you.  The Senior Advisor team can also be contacted via email at

Essential Dates

Monday 12 September to Friday 16 September

Monday 19 September to Friday 23 September

Online Welcome Week

University & Programme Induction

Monday 26 September Semester 1 teaching starts
Thursday 20 to Friday 28 October ‘Reading Week’
Friday 16 December Last day of lectures before Christmas vacation
Tuesday 3 January Christmas vacation ends
Tuesday 3 January to Friday 13 January Revision period
Monday 16 January Semester 1 examinations commence
Friday 27 January Semester 1 examinations end
Monday 30 January Mitigating Circumstances Form Deadline (12 noon)
Monday 30 January Semester 2 teaching starts
Friday 17 February to Friday 24 February Reading Week
Friday 24 March Last day of classes before Easter vacation
Monday 17 April First day of classes after Easter vacation
Friday 5 May Last day of teaching
Monday 8 May to Friday 12 May Revision Period
Monday 15 May Semester 2 examinations commence
Wednesday 24 May Semester 2 examinations end
Monday 12 June Mitigating Circumstances Form Deadline (12 noon)
Monday 26 June Examination results communicated to all Foundation Year students by 5pm
Wednesday 30 August Re-examination period commences
Friday 1 September Re-examination period ends
Monday 4 September Mitigating Circumstances Form Deadline (12 noon)
Friday 8 September Examination results communicated to students who have taken resit examinations by 5pm

Note: On the following dates there are no lectures at Xaverian. However, you still will be required to attend any seminars or tutorials at the University arranged on these days.

  • Thursday 20 October
  • Friday 21 October
  • Monday 28 November
  • Tuesday 29 November

Administrative & Management Staff at Xaverian College

Address and telephone:
Xaverian College
Lower Park Road
Victoria Park
M14 5RB

College Office Telephone:   0161 224 1781

Teaching Staff at Xaverian College

Mr Ray Ski
Dr. Geoffrey Garnham
Mr Carlton Pass
Mr Mick Crowe
Ms Caroline Andrews
Ms Louise McKee
Mr Edward Hillman
Mr Tom Simpson
Dr. Geoffrey Garnham
Mr Carlton Pass
Mr Asif Ahmed
Mrs Helen Parkin
Mr Tom Lee
Mr Jon Griffin
College Counsellor
Ms Zoe Riley
Ms Marianne Garside
College Chaplain
Ms Esther Knowles

Staff at the University of Manchester

School of Biological Sciences address and telephone:

School of Biological Sciences Student Support Office

Tel: 0161 275 1487 Email:

G.483 Stopford Building
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PT

Senior Advisor: Dr Tracey Speake
Deputy Senior Advisors: Dr Liz Fitzgerald, Dr Katherine Hinchliffe and Dr Richard Prince


Programme Director: Dr Katherine Hinchliffe
Tel: 0161 275 5492 Email:

Programme Communication

Email is a frequently used means of contacting individual students and the programme cohort as a whole. You should check your email regularly (at both Xaverian and University email addresses).

Any announcements or changes to the programme, along with a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section will be posted on your Virtual Learning Environment Blackboard community area ‘Biosciences with Foundation Year’. You can access Blackboard via

This site can be used as a chat forum for students on the course and to find out more about studying in the School of Biological Sciences, Manchester. Copies of the Course Syllabus and Programme Regulations handbooks will also be on this site. Timetables for the University-taught unit BIOL10900 will also be available on Blackboard, in a separate course unit area specifically for this unit.

Make sure you check your university email inbox on a frequent basis (at least once per day). Your university (or Xaverian) email address should be used to contact university staff. Personal email addresses are ignored!

My Manchester: My Manchester is a personalised online space for current students, which provides easy access to learning resources, services, student support and information, all in one place.

A-Z of Student Services

The A-Z of Services can be found on the MyManchester website.

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

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This handbook relates to the Biosciences Foundation Year. This is a one year programme and does not result in a qualification or award (other than of attendance) on completion. The Foundation Year is the first year of an extended programme of study of four years or five years leading to the award, on successful completion, of a bachelor’s degree or a UG Master of Science (MSci).

The Biosciences Foundation Year, on successful completion, leads to further study in a number of programmes in the School of Biological Sciences. The programmes are: Biochemistry, Biology, Biology with Science and Society, Biomedical Sciences, Biotechnology, Cognitive Neuroscience & Psychology, Genetics, Immunology,  Medical Biochemistry, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Medical Physiology, Zoology.

The Purpose of this Programme

This Foundation Year programme provides an entry route into the School of Biological Sciences for those students who do not meet required entry qualifications and the programme aims to give students a solid and sufficient platform in the core science subjects for successful further study.

Programme Aims and Objectives

The Foundation Year programme of study has the following aims;

  • to meet the need of students from a range of educational backgrounds to access programmes in biosciences so addressing the University’s aspirations to widen participation,
  • to prepare students in a number of fundamental science subjects for subsequent successful study in a range of existing University programmes,
  • to encourage students to develop independent study skills and extend their communication and IT skills so as to provide the best platform for subsequent study,
  • that students will be supported by an academic and pastoral tutorial system that is responsive to their range of backgrounds, that includes a ‘needs’ aspect and that includes links to the University,
  • that students, although mostly not taught on University premises or by University staff, will be full members of the University and will have access to all support facilities,

The one year, pre-degree, programme of study has the following learning outcomes.

On successful completion of the year students will have:

  • a knowledge across the underlying science subjects of Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics that is appropriate for university study,
  • depending upon the subsequent degree programme to be pursued, a knowledge and understanding of certain topics within that discipline, that have characteristics of HE learning and that are outside the core subjects in order both to smooth the transition to university study and to assist students to make informed choice about their future educational path,
  • developed their skills in application of number and communication and will have been given the opportunity to develop their skills of working with others improving their learning and performance and problem solving,
  • experienced teaching and learning principally through small group and individual sessions,
  • demonstrated their knowledge and understanding primarily through time constrained formal examinations together with elements of continuous assessment,
  • experienced a student support and guidance system that includes scheduled sessions with Xaverian Advisors and contact with relevant recruitment and subject specialist staff of the University,
  • experienced learning that is supported by laboratory, library and IT facilities that are appropriate for the level of learning,
  • had an opportunity to comment upon their programme of study anonymously and in writing and to have a mechanism through which concerns may be addressed.

 The Programme Structure

A programme of study has been devised consisting of 120 academic credits.

Students will study a common core of units in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics. Biology will form approximately half the academic core content and lectures will cover a wide range of areas including cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology, microbes and disease, ecology and physiology. Regular laboratory work will reinforce some of the subject material and help develop practical skills.

A third of the academic core will consist of Chemistry involving the study of atomic structure, bonding, rates of reaction, inorganic and physical chemistry, organic and medicinal chemistry. Lectures on these subjects will be supported by relevant laboratory practicals.

The units in Mathematics will enable students to manipulate and analyse experimental data accurately and to use statistical and mathematical techniques in a biological context.

The table below shows the course units which form the compulsory elements of the programme of study. The BIOL10900 unit outlined in the table below will be taught on University campus. The unit involves the delivery of tutorials each semester in addition to seminars and practicals revolving around four different biological themes.

Students should expect on average to spend approximately 10 hours of study on each credit of each course unit. Thus a 10 credit course unit is expected to require 100 hours of study, a 20 credit course unit 200 hours and so on. For each hour of lecture you should typically spend between about one and one and a half hours of private study. For each laboratory session you should spend some additional time divided between prior preparation and post reflection.

The assessment for each course unit is achieved by the summation of up to three aspects; an end-of-semester examination; laboratory; coursework and/or in-course progress test:


XABY01 Molecules Cells and Variation Mr Mick Crowe/ Mr Edward Hillman / Ms Louise McKee
XABY02 Microbes and Disease Ms Caroline Andrews / Dr Geoffrey Garnham/ Mr Tom Simpson
XABY03 Energy and the Environment Ms Caroline Andrews / Dr Geoffrey Garnham/ Mr Tom Simpson
XABY04 Physiology Mr Mick Crowe/ Mr Edward Hillman/ Ms Louise McKee
XA0201 Fundamental Principles of Chemistry A Mr A Ahmed/ Mr T Lee / Mrs H Parkin / Mr J Griffin
XA0221 Fundamental Principles of Chemistry B Mr A Ahmed/ Mr T Lee / Mrs H Parkin / Mr J Griffin
XA0212 Inorganic and Organic Chemistry A Mr A Ahmed/ Mr T Lee / Mrs H Parkin / Mr J Griffin
XA0222 Inorganic and Organic Chemistry B Mr A Ahmed/ Mr T Lee / Mrs H Parkin / Mr J Griffin
T01/T02 Tutorials Mr Ray Ski / Mr Carlton Pass / Dr Geoffrey Garnham
XAMA01/02 Maths Mr Carlton Pass
BIOL10900 Tutorials, Practicals & Seminar Series Dr Katherine Hinchliffe / Dr Shazia Chaudhry / Dr Tristan Pocock / Dr David Hughes / Dr David Boam /  Professor Amanda Bamford

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Credit Rating and Study Time

Degree programmes at this University are organised around a credit-rating scheme based on course units. A course unit is a self-contained part of a degree programme with its own distinct objectives, syllabus and marks assessment scheme. You will be told more about this when you progress from this Foundation Year and enrol for a particular degree programme because there are specific requirements for the number of credits needed for a degree.

Course units of this Foundation Year are assigned at level 0 (to indicate that they are preliminary to the normal levels of degree study) and vary from 5 to 20 credit units. Credit points assigned to a course unit reflect the amount of time that most students will need to spend in the study of that unit. You will need to spend about 10 hours of study for each 1 unit of credit. These programmes are 30 weeks in length and you study 120 credits. This gives 1300 hours in total or about 40 hours per week. Being a student is a full time activity. Clearly, every student will not need exactly the same amount of study time for each unit, it will depend upon your individual strengths, interests and weaknesses, but you should expect to spend about 40 hours each week in study. About half of this is timetabled time (or contact time). In addition to this contact time you will need to study individually, in the library, at home or in your hall of residence.

The Teaching Approach

You are on a programme of study of The University of Manchester and you will find both differences and similarities to the teaching and learning styles employed in the degree programmes of the School of Biological Sciences. The main similarity to University study is that you are responsible for organising your time so that you devote appropriate effort to your studies whilst also experiencing the benefits of University life. It is your responsibility to ensure you hand work in on time, prepare properly for in-semester tests and plan your revision for examinations.

You will be provided with regular problem sheets for each of your subjects and you should ensure that you allocate sufficient time to attempt these sheets. As with all examinations, the key to success in the examination is to have prepared properly through the coursework.

 In the laboratories you will normally work in pairs. You will be trained in any necessary techniques for safe working and you will be supervised in the laboratories. You must at all times comply with health and safety requirements, including social distancing guidelines, as advised by the University or the College. The requirements and background information for successful conduct of experimental work will be given to you in course notes. Where you are given these in advance you should read through them and understand the tasks required of you so that you gain maximum advantage of the time spent in the laboratory. You will be expected to attend all the laboratory sessions and to maintain a record of the procedures and results.

Continuous Assessment

Every course unit includes elements of continuous assessment. In Biology, Chemistry and Maths this will include in-semester progress tests held at regular intervals. These tests will allow you to monitor your progress in acquiring the knowledge and in its understanding and application. You will be in a good position to assess your own learning needs and to allocate your time to each subject.

Continuous assessment in Biology and Chemistry will include coursework based on laboratory work and/or researching scientific literature.

The overall assessment of a course unit is achieved by integrating the examination and continuous assessment marks.

Students must ensure they pass the tutorial, seminar and practical unit BIOL10900 taught on the University campus in order to progress on to their degree programme course. Failure of the tutorial unit will involve a resit over the summer period (resit essay).

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Criteria used to determine achievement

The criteria used for determining achievement will be similar to that used for ‘A’ level qualifications. Xaverian staff have considerable experience in the setting, marking and grading of ‘A’ level examinations. Marks will be determined for each academic course unit according to the weighting of continuous assessment and examinations.

The total mark for each of the three academic components of the Foundation Year will be proportional to its credit rating. Thus:

  • Biology will be marked out of 600 equivalent to 60 credits.
  • Chemistry will be marked out of 400 equivalent to 40 credits.
  • Mathematics will be marked out of 200 equivalent to 20 credits.

First Semester

Course Unit Method of Assessment Credit Rating
Molecules Cells, and Variation Examination at end of first semester (80%)Progress test during first semester (10%) Coursework (10%) 15
Microbes, and Disease Examination at end of first semester (80%)Progress test during first semester (10%) Coursework (10%) 15
Chemistry 1 Examination at end of first semester (80%)Progress test during first semester (10%) Coursework (10%) 20
Mathematics 1 Examination at end of the first semester (80%)Progress tests during first semester (20%) 10

Second Semester

Course Unit Method of Assessment Credit Rating
Physiology Examination at end of second semester (80%)Progress test during second semester (10%) Coursework (10%) 15
Energy and the Environment Examination at end of second semester (80%)Progress test during second semester (10%) Coursework (10%) 15
Chemistry 2 Examination at end of second semester (80%)Progress test during second semester (10%) Coursework (10%) 20
Mathematics 2 Examination at end of the second semester (80%)Progress test during first semester (20%) 10

Full unit outlines are provided in the Syllabus handbook.


Many of the texts that you will require for this Foundation Year of study will be provided to you by Xaverian College. Additional books may be recommended to you either to use for reference from the library (both Xaverian College and The University of Manchester have libraries you can use) or to purchase.

Those students who are not based on campus will be able to access the library’s electronic resources via e-books and e-journal articles.  More information about this is available here:

Please also see the Library’s ‘Get started’ pages here:


Lecture, tutorial and laboratory timetables are published separately from this booklet and are distributed after registration. They are displayed on the programme notice board and will be made available online. The timetable for BIOL10900 will be available via Blackboard ( Please note that the weeks in which teaching takes place may differ slightly from those of students on other programmes: do not let this confuse you if you are talking to other University students.


Your work will be assessed in several different ways during your programme. The primary written forms of assessment are coursework, progress tests and the formal time constrained examinations. The course unit syllabuses give information on the assessments of each unit. You will also find assessment criteria for the different types of work that will be assessed in mathematics and in the laboratory based subjects. These criteria should help you to understand what is expected of you and what the marker of your work will be looking for.

Arrangements for Examinations

Timing of Examinations

The examination periods for these Foundation Year programmes may differ slightly from the periods for other University examinations. Do not let this confuse you if you are talking to other university students.

You will have formal time-constrained University examinations at the end of each semester in the course units of biology, chemistry and mathematics.

Examination procedure

Xaverian College will organise your examinations but they will be run in accordance with the examination rules of the University. All examinations are marked anonymously.

Please note that, as University of Manchester students, you may receive automatically generated email communication about University examinations from the University’s Student Services Centre. This information will contain information about how to access your examination timetable via the Student Portal. These emails do not apply to you as your examinations are organised by Xaverian College, and not by the University. Examination timetables will be provided by Xaverian College.

Location of Examinations

Further information about first semester examinations will be provided to you during the semester by Xaverian College.

The Examiners

Your examinations will be set and marked by Xaverian College. To ensure comparability of standards, the University appoints an External Examiner to inspect your programme content and to assess the examination questions and specimen answers before you sit the papers and to review the marking of those papers and any other assessed work. The External Examiner participates fully in the examiners meeting.

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.

The current External Examiner for the Biosciences Foundation Year is Mr Ian Robertson, A-level Lead Examiner.

For the Foundation Year programme the internal examiners are teaching staff of Xaverian College who set and mark the papers and assignments.

External Examiners’ reports relating to this programme will be shared with student representatives at the Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC)/programme committee, where details of any actions carried out by the programme team in response to the External Examiners’ comments will be discussed. You should contact your student representatives if you require any further information about External Examiners’ reports or the process for considering them.

Requirements to complete the programme successfully

To pass the Foundation Year a student must acquire the equivalent of 22 points from the maximum of 30 points attainable. The number of points allocated to each of the three academic components of the Foundation Year will be proportional to its credit rating and the mean percentage achieved in the relevant assessments over both semesters.

In Biology a grade A (80%) will be equivalent to 15 points.

In Chemistry a grade A (80%) will be equivalent to 10 points.

In Mathematics a grade A (80%) will be equivalent to 5 points.

The grades of A to E will be associated with the mean percentage achieved in each component, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics according to the uniform modified score system. The associations will be subject to discussion by the board of examiners:

A 80%             B 70 %            C 60% D 50 %            E 40 %

Biology Component

Grade A B C D E
Points 15 12 9 6 3
Mean % 80 70 60 50 40

Chemistry Component

Grade A B C D E
Points 10 8 6 4 2
Mean % 80 70 60 50 40

Mathematics Component

Grade A B C D E
Points 5 4 3 2 1
Mean % 80 70 60 50 40

There will be no separate requirement for a particular mark/percentage in a single course unit e.g. Molecules and Cells, so incorporating internal compensation within a programme component.

Progression to a student’s preferred degree programme in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Medical Biochemistry will require a grade B in chemistry.

Compensation procedures

You may hear from other University students about ‘compensation’, that is, that each separate course unit does not have to be passed to be considered as having passed the year. Compensation applies to you but it is already built into the above rules for progression. Weakness in one course unit can be compensated by strength in a related course unit in awarding the grade for the subject and weakness in one subject can be compensated by strength in other subjects in award of the overall points total.

Resit Arrangements

There will be one opportunity for re-examination during August/September of the year of study. You may be re-examined in any course units that you choose.  You will be advised of the most sensible units in which to be re-examined so as to meet the requirements for progression. Progression following a re-examination will be according to the same rules as given above.

When the examination board in September considers your marks and grades to determine whether you meet the criteria for progression the marks that will be used will be those obtained in your most recent assessment for any particular course unit. The mark used will NOT be the higher mark of your two attempts. The mark will be derived solely from the resit examination and will not include any coursework component carried over from the first sitting.

If you should fail to pass the Foundation Year after the one re-examination opportunity you will not normally be permitted any further opportunities to pass or an opportunity to retake the year in attendance except on the grounds of ill health.

Because you are a registered Undergraduate student at the University of Manchester, you may receive automatically generated email communication about University resit examinations from the University’s Student Services Centre.  This communication will contain information about how to access your resit examination timetable via the Student Portal and how to pay your resit examination fees.  These emails do not apply to you as your resit examinations are organised by Xaverian College, and not by the University.  Examination timetables will be provided by Xaverian College and you are not required to pay a resit examination fee.

Please note that it is not possible to reschedule examinations.

Release of Marks and Results

You will be informed using the ‘my messages’ facility of the School of Biological Sciences intranet – an email will be issued to your university email address to inform you when the results have been released and how to access your results.

Please note that the marks provided after the first semester examinations are provisional and are provided for information only. They may go up or down at the examinations board in June, when all marks are confirmed.

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Registration is the formal process that you must complete before you can be considered to be a student of the University. The University of Manchester has a student record system that allows you to complete most of the registration process online from home. We strongly recommend that you complete registration before you arrive by referring to the information in the Crucial Guide posted to you and available at


Your first few weeks at The University of Manchester may at times be daunting. Not only do you need to familiarise yourself with the University (and its many buildings) but you also need to come to know the buildings and staff of Xaverian College.

Exceptionally, in 2022-23, there will be two weeks of induction for students at the start of the year:

Week commencing 12th September: Online Induction

Week commencing 19th September: University & Programme Welcome Week.  This will include School of Biological Sciences and Xaverian College introductions and a programme-level induction.

Further details about Welcome Week will be provided to you in early September.

Change of Address

If you change your term time or home address during the academic year you must make this change to the University of Manchester Student System (which you can access My Manchester –

Selecting your Degree Programme

To pass the Foundation Year you must acquire the equivalent of 22 points from the maximum of 30 points attainable. Progression to your preferred degree programme in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Medical Biochemistry will require a grade B in chemistry.  During the Foundation year, you will have the opportunity to learn about the various degree courses in the School of Biological Sciences. In order to inform the University about which programme you wish to pursue, subject to gaining sufficient points on the Foundation Year programme, a ‘Degree Preference Form’ will be made available via Blackboard, and a link to the form will be circulated to you via email in semester 2.

Changes to Programme and Course Units

There are very few choices that you have to make about your academic study during this Foundation Year. The course units in the syllabus handbook are compulsory.

If you would like to make a change to your degree choice after you have submitted the Degree Preference Form (see above), you should contact the Foundation Year Student Support Office at

Withdrawal from the Programme

We very much hope that once you have embarked on the programme you will wish to see it through to the end of the year and you will not wish to withdraw from it. However, if you do think you wish to withdraw talk things over first with a Xaverian or University Advisor and with the Programme Director.

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The structure of the School of Biological Sciences is intended to give you opportunities to express your views and to influence School and University policy. Specific problems should be dealt with by your Xaverian or University Advisor, but from time to time matters of a general nature may arise which need to be discussed in a wider, more formal setting. In addition, the School of Biological Sciences values your views on academic and organisational matters and welcomes the contributions you can make to the work of its committees. So if you feel you could serve as a student representative for your Degree Programme please discuss this important and rewarding role with your Programme Director as early as possible. Training is provided by the Students’ Union for Student Representatives.

The Student-Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC)

The Biosciences Foundation Year Student-Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC) meets, as a minimum, twice during the year of study. The School of Biological Sciences Programme Director chairs this committee. Students on the programmes of study will elect student representatives who will be the student members of this Committee.

The Student-Staff Liaison Committee gives your representatives the opportunity to discuss aspects of the programme in a semi-formal setting. Minutes are taken and these are reported to the Management Team and Board of Studies. Obviously we have given careful thought to the design and delivery of your programme of studies and we all hope that you enjoy and benefit from it. By listening to your views we may be able to make it even better.

If there are any matters about the programme which are causing you concern you can raise these with your student representatives who will be in a position to form a collective opinion before raising the matter through the appropriate channels. Contact your student representatives in person in class or online/via email.

Student Feedback

Course unit questionnaires

You will be provided with a questionnaire to fill in about the content and delivery of the course units. This forms a standard part of the monitoring of provision both of the University and of Xaverian College. A summary of results of these questionnaires and a brief report by the programme director will be considered at relevant meetings of the Programme Management Committee.

Programme questionnaires

You will be provided with a programme questionnaire in the summer term. This gives you the opportunity to comment on issues relating to the structure and quality of the year of studies as a whole and to comment on other aspects of the University.

External Examiner

The External Examiner may meet with a number of students, not for the purpose of making any academic decisions, but to discuss the programme with you and to form an opinion of the quality of the programme.

Day-to-day problem solving and other ways of making your views known

You are welcome to make comments about any aspect of your programme at any time. If you have difficulties or suggestions please be aware that they should be raised promptly, and that the resolution of problems is likely to be most effective via face-to-face interaction. You should feel free to comment on unit content, delivery or assessment direct to the teacher and with your Advisor at Xaverian in the first instance. If you feel this is not appropriate, you are encouraged to discuss matters with your Programme Director.


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:

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.

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

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Computing facilities in the Stopford building

Computing facilities are available to students within the School of Biological Sciences in three computer clusters situated on the ground floor: Stopford PC Clusters 1-3. Although these clusters are used for scheduled classes, the School tries to ensure significant free time on these computers for student use (email, word processing etc). Standard word processing, spreadsheet and database software is pre-installed (Microsoft Office Suite), as well as any software related to your studies. Printing facilities are available in each cluster and technical help can be obtained via the IT Service Desk (see here for contact and further information).

In addition, the University of Manchester provides several large public computer clusters based around the campus, which are available to all students. All the PC clusters run the same operating system and have the same software installed. Visit for the location of these clusters.

Guidance notes for students wishing to access their University email accounts outside the University can be found at

Further information about IT and eLearning Support can be found on the Faculty pages here:


The School of Biological Sciences intranet ( is a service provided for staff and students in the School of Biological Sciences. Like any other electronic medium there may be occasional outages caused by power surges beyond the control of the School and/or malfunctions, so its operation cannot be guaranteed. Any material on the intranet, as well as that on any other platform, should be accessed well in advance of any deadlines. Non-availability of the service for 48 hours or less would not be considered a circumstance to mitigate against non-completion of an assignment.

The University Of Manchester Library

The University of Manchester Library provides you with the resources and support you need throughout your Foundation Year programme. The Main Library and Stopford Library house all of the essential text books whilst the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons provides a learning environment in addition to study skills workshops. The Library also has an extensive collection of eBooks, databases and journals available online.

The My Library tab in My Manchester has quick links to all of the Library’s resources and services available to students. 

Getting Started

Please see the Library’s ‘Get started’ website here:

You will need your student card to access all library sites around campus. Many of our services and resources also require you to confirm that you are a registered student. This authentication can be your student card, the ID number on the card, your Library PIN, the central username and password you use to log on, or a combination of these.

The Main Library

The Main Library holds the principal collection of Life Sciences books and journals available.
Life Sciences textbooks are available on Floor 2 of the Blue Area but some copies are held in the High Demand Collection for either 1 or 2 night loan. Books and periodicals in other related subjects such as Biology are located in other areas of the Main Library. The library search facility will let you know what items are available and where to find them including eBooks and online journals. All the main biosciences databases are available including Web of Knowledge, Biosis Previews, the Cambridge Scientific Abstracts Biological Sciences Collection, Medline, Embase, Scopus and Zoological Record. These can be used to discover what has been published on a particular subject. The electronic resources can be accessed both on-campus and remotely.

The Main Library offers group study rooms, individual study space options and computer clusters. Wi-Fi is available throughout the building and a cafe lounge can be found on the ground floor. The Library has long opening hours and extends these during exam periods. Please check Locations and Opening Hours for full details on opening hours and facilities.

Xaverian College Library

The Xaverian College Library is currently open between 08.15 and 16.30 on weekdays during term time. It contains the books which are recommended for the programme to which reference may be made in the library. Facilities for borrowing books should be discussed with the librarian.

The library also provides space for quiet private study.

The Stopford Library

The Stopford Library is a smaller site library for Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Life Sciences and holds multiple copies of all new editions of core and useful texts. Full details of what is available can be found using library search or asking a member of customer service staff.

The Stopford Library also has a computer suite, wifi and 6 groupion study rooms with a large table and 14 chairs, a 32 inch LCD monitor and a large “squiggle” board. Bookings can be made via My Manchester or at the customer service desk in the Stopford Library.

Please check Locations and Opening Hours for full details on opening hours and facilities.

 The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons

The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons is a state-of-the-art learning environment. The Learning Commons has flexible open learning spaces with multimedia facilities, computer clusters and 30 bookable group study rooms with whiteboards and media screens and ipads available for loan.

My Learning Essentials

My Learning Essentials is the Library’s comprehensive programme of online resources, workshops and drop-ins designed to support you in your personal and professional development.

Workshops and drop-ins are held throughout the year and include special sessions during exams and the summer. Our online resources are available at all times, providing flexible support for your development from undergraduate to postgraduate level and beyond.

Full details of workshops and online resources can be viewed on the My Learning Essentials website.

The My Learning Essentials programme is run by The University of Manchester Library in collaboration with other services across campus.‌

The Manchester Museum

(Note that the Manchester Museum is currently closed for refurbishment).

The Manchester Museum is part of The University of Manchester. It has a distinctive role in engaging the public with the work of the university. The Museum has the third largest natural sciences collection in the UK, with four million specimens, from birds and plants collected by Charles Darwin to specimens of new species collected and classified by present curators. Many of the collections can be searched from the Museum’s website ( There are also numerous additional resources, such as library materials and associated archives. The Museum has around 380,000 visits per year and over 20,000 visits by schoolchildren.

  • Museum staff work to make the collection available for teaching, research and public engagement and are always keen to explore new opportunities to engage students with the collection. Many museum staff teach on lecture courses and field courses, practicals and research skills modules. They also offer a number of studying opportunities, including final year projects, industrial placements, use of the Museum resources in PhD and Post-Doctoral work and co-supervision of PhDs. These may involve the collections or the specialist interests of staff. Students are encouraged to contact museum staff to self-arrange projects.
  • The Museum is heavily involved in local biodiversity and sustainability work and helps to deliver the Biodiversity Action Plan for Manchester.
  • The Museum can help students develop employability through its many volunteering opportunities, particularly useful to those who wish to enter careers in public communication, education and, of course, museums.
  • Anyone—staff or student—can visit collections that are not on display. This is done by arranging a visit with the appropriate curator (details below) or by arranging to visit the Collections Study Centre. The collections are a wonderful source of inspiration and information for research on scientific subjects and the history of science.
  • Entry to the Museum is free. It has fantastic galleries and a busy programme of temporary exhibitions and public events. The museum café is a popular meeting place for both students and staff.

Zoology: internationally important collections of many groups of animals, particularly birds, mammals, skeletons, molluscs and many other invertebrates, around 250,000 specimens. Contact Henry McGhie, Head of Collections and Curator of Zoology, who has a particular interest in bird biology and ecology, email:

Botany: an internationally important collection of over one million specimens of worldwide plants, mostly herbarium sheets. Contact Rachel Webster (email:, Curator of Botany.

Entomology: internationally important collections of over two million insects from most taxonomic groups. Contact Dmitri Logunov, Curator of Arthropods, who has a particular interest in spiders, email:

Earth Sciences: one of the five regional Earth Science Collection centres in the UK; one of the largest mineral collections with over 30,000 specimens and important collections of fossil plants and animals, with over 100,000 specimens. Contact David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Earth Sciences, email:

Vivarium: a unique collection of live animals with over 270 specimens of 40 species. Contact Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology, who has a particular interest in tropical frogs, email:

Also humanities collections, notably an important Egyptology collection and Archaeology collection.

To book a visit to the museum Collections Study Centre, telephone 0161 275 2643 or email

The University Language Centre

The University Language Centre (ULC) provides courses and language learning resources for students from a wide variety of disciplines wishing to include a modern languages element within their studies. It also offers a wide range of courses and services for international students for whom English is not a first language.

English Language Programmes and Advice

If English is not your native language, you may wish to make use of our classes and tutorials.

In our classes, experienced tutors will help you get the most out of your studies by exploring the key features of both written academic and spoken English. A particular emphasis is placed on communicating well with your intended audience. We also aim to boost your confidence to work independently in English. The writing classes are delivered on a broad disciplinary specific basis: Engineering and Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Medical and Human Sciences, Business-related disciplines, Humanities. You can find out more about these helpful classes on our website.

Please refer to the Academic Support Programmes section of the ULC webpage via the link given below.

Face to Face – This is a reciprocal language learning scheme, in which students can meet with native speakers of the language they are learning. International students find that this is a good way to meet home students and to become more integrated into the University.  Home students can prepare themselves for study abroad by finding out about their partners’ home universities and cultures. For more information, please enquire at the ULC reception.

Open Learning Facilities – The University Language Centre’s open learning facilities, situated in the Samuel Alexander Building, offer:

  • A well stocked library of materials in text, audio, DVD and CD-ROM formats
  • Materials in some 80 languages
  • Two suites of dedicated multimedia PCs for computer aided language learning, DVD playback and access to TVoverIP (for viewing live satellite channels via the University network)
  • Booths with LCD screens for group viewing of DVDs
  • A conversation room for group work and voice recordings
  • Short-term loan of digital recorders, cameras, webcams, etc
  • Support and advice for learners from expert staff and through on-line resources

A full guide to the University Language Centre’s courses, services and its language learning resources is available at:

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Although you have an academic tutor/advisor and access to all members of academic staff in the School of Biological Sciences, there may be occasions when you need or would like to talk to someone else about issues that may be worrying you. The services listed below are able to offer you confidential help and advice on a number of matters. The following website also contains further useful links to support students’ wellbeing:

The Student Services Centre

The majority of the University’s administrative services for students (except Accommodation Office) are available from our centralised Student Services Centre, off Burlington Street.

Student Services Centre
Burlington Street
The University of Manchester
Oxford Road
M13 9PL

Telephone enquiries: 0161 275 5000


The University Counselling Service offers you help in understanding, dealing with, or overcoming the many sorts of difficulties that may prevent you getting the most out of your life and studies at university.  These may include problems at home, pressures from personal relationships, and difficulties in coping with stressful events, now or in the past, such as examinations, separation, bereavement or forms of abuse.  There are also some group sessions/workshops on specific issues, e.g. confidence and self-esteem, managing low mood, managing exam stress, coping better with academic pressure, speaking out in groups, etc. Please see the Counselling Service website for more details and up-to-date information.

The Counselling Service is open between 9:00 and 16:00, Monday to Friday and can also offer online appointments. Students who have not used the service before, need to complete a brief questionnaire before contacting the service ( This should take no more than 3 minutes to complete. Those students who have used the service within the past 2 months, can make an appointment with their counsellor through the reception service (

You can also book an appointment through the Wellbeing tab in your MyManchester: At certain times the Service experiences especially high demand and waiting times can increase. To ensure the best possible service is provided and waiting times are managed effectively, a Duty Counsellor is available each day (during opening hours) for those who feel they need to talk to someone before the earliest available appointment date. 

Opening times

The Counselling Service is open from 9:00 to 16:00, Monday to Friday, except on public holidays and during the University’s Christmas closure period.

Contact details

Tel: 0161 275 2864 (52864 from an internal phone)
University of Manchester Counselling Service
5th Floor, Crawford House
Booth Street East
M13 9QS

Whilst you are most welcome to make use of any of the University support services, you will be spending most of your time at Xaverian College and you may feel it is more convenient to discuss any problems with someone local to where you are studying. The College Counsellor is listed at the start of this handbook (see ‘Administrative & Management Staff at Xaverian College’).

The College Counsellor is regularly available to discuss any problems whether connected with your study or with your private life. These discussions are in complete confidence unless you wish the circumstances to be made known to the academic staff or to an examination board. You can discuss with the Counsellor whether you should be referred elsewhere within the College, University or wider support facilities.

College Chaplain
Esther Knowles      
Chaplaincy, Main Building, First Floor

As with the Counsellor, conversations with the Chaplain are in complete confidence and can extend to any aspect of your life, not just religion.


The Accommodation Office provides information and guidance on a range of issues including ways to deal with any problems that students might encounter over accommodation choices, special needs, existing accommodation difficulties, accommodation for students with families and on temporary accommodation, including provision available outside semester time.

The Accommodation Office contact details are as follows:

Tel: +44 161 275 2888


For private sector accommodation see the Manchester Student Homes website at Manchester Student Homes (MSH) is owned, managed and funded by the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University and their respective Students’ Unions.

The Students’ Union Advice Centre is also an excellent source of help and advice on problems with private accommodation – see

Students with additional support needs

The University of Manchester welcomes students with additional support needs arising from a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, an unseen medical condition, or a disability or impairment.  The University has a central Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS).  In order to access the full support that the University can offer, you should contact the DASS to discuss your support requirements. They can be contacted by the following means:

Email –
Telephone – 0161 275 7512
Text (only for deaf students) – 07899 658 790
Minicom – 0161 275 2794

Or you can just drop in to the DASS on the second floor of University Place, Block 2, where you can speak in confidence to a Disability Adviser about your needs. The DASS is open:

Monday to Friday 10:00-16.00

If you are a student who has, or suspects they have, support needs and have not yet informed the DASS, then please contact them in the first instance. The Stopford Building has car parking spaces reserved for blue badge holders, wheelchair access and an adapted lift at the car park end of the building.

Financial help

If you are a UK student for fees purposes, you can apply to Student Finance for a Student Loan for Maintenance and a Loan for Fees.  Payments for the Maintenance Loan are made directly into your bank account. If you choose to take one, the Loan for Fees is paid directly to the University. If you get into difficulties while you are a student, the Student Services Centre on Burlington Street can help with money advice and budgeting. Further information is available on the web pages here:

Discrimination and Harassment

Information and University policies on discrimination and harassment can be found at

For further information about the University’s Policy on Harassment, or if you have been a victim of some form of harassment, contact the Equality and Diversity Office on 0161 306 5857 or the Students’ Union Advice Service on 0161 275 2952.


The University recognises the importance of the health and wellbeing of all students. Occupational Health Services aim 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.

You can access advice and guidance by going to see the Service or by visiting their website below. Some students will undergo regular health surveillance as required by their School etc, but you can also refer yourself for an appointment.

Where necessary the Service work closely with other services at the University e.g. the Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS) to support students with health problems or disabilities.

The Occupational Health Service does not deal with medical or first aid emergencies and cannot diagnose or provide treatment. If there is a serious medical emergency you should phone (9)999 for an ambulance, remembering to call University Security (69966) immediately afterwards so that they can assist the ambulance in getting to you.

The Occupational Health Services receptions are open for enquiries from Monday to Friday between 09.00-16.00.

You will need an appointment to see an Occupational Health Adviser or Physician as the Service does not have the capacity to see you as a ‘drop-in’. Their contact details are:

Tel: 0161 275 2858
Campus map location: Building 38
Address: 182/184 Waterloo Place, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9GP

Additional information on health issues can be found in the MyWellbeing tab of MyManchester.

International students

The International Society, based in the University of Manchester Student’s Union, offers advice, information and a social base for students.  Telephone: 0161 275 4959, email: Further information can be found on the International Society website.

The International Team forms part of the Student Services Centre. The advisors see students on an individual basis to discuss any problems (e.g. visas, finance) you may have. Telephone: 0161 275 5000 to make an appointment or see

Further information can also be found in the My Wellbeing Section of MyManchester.

Night-time telephone advice/listening service

The Students’ Union runs Nightline, a telephone advice and listening service operated by students that offers a point of contact throughout the night. You can contact Nightline by telephone on 0161 275 3983 / 0161 275 3984 from 20:00-8:00. If you’d feel more comfortable emailing Nightline rather than phoning them, you can send an email to Further information is available at

Security on campus

The University Security Service should be contacted if you have concerns about personal security or theft (0161 275 2728) or wish to speak to a member of the security staff. You can also contact the Police Liaison Officers on 0161 275 7042 or  Information on safety can also be found in the My Wellbeing section of MyManchester.

Students’ Union advice centre

The Students’ Union Advice Service (see their website at offers free and confidential information and advice to students on personal and academic issues. It is run by professional Advisors who are independent of the University. The Advice Service is based on the ground floor of the Students’ Union building on Oxford Road, M13 9PR.

The Advice Service is open Monday to Friday, 10:00 – 16:00 (closed 13:30 – 14:30) all year round – both in and out of University terms – with the exception of public holidays and occasional training days.

During these times you can drop-in, book an appointment, telephone and email.

Telephone: 0161 275 2952

Internal phone: 52952

The Careers Service

Becoming a Manchester Graduate starts with your degree, but the secret to future career success is using your time as a student to explore options, build your connections and reflect on what you learn. Working in collaboration with the School of Biological Sciences, other partners in the University and with organisations across the world, the Careers Service can help you reach your potential – but it all starts with you.  What can you do to improve your chances of getting into the kind of work you’d love to do?

Making the most of your time at Manchester

Actively seek out opportunities to build your experience; this could be work experience, voluntary work, being active in a University society or developing new skills. Careers Service research proves that students who do so move swiftly into the kinds of careers they want after they graduate. From the Manchester Gold Mentoring Scheme to Student Experience Internships and Work Experience Bursaries*, the Careers Service can help you achieve your (*funding to be confirmed for 2022-23)

The Careers Service has a dedicated FBMH Faculty Careers Team which offers a programme of activities for Biological Sciences students, organised in collaboration with the School’s employability team and the Alumni Relations Team. This includes the Biological Sciences Careers Fair in Semester Two.  These events are advertised internally by the School of Biological Sciences and also highlighted on the School’s Careers Facebook Group.

Build and broaden your connections

Learn from other people, including people like you i.e. other students in your School, PASS Leaders, house-mates, lab demonstrators, people you work with and people you socialise with.  Talk about careers and options, your ideas and aspirations; share ideas and connections. Our research shows that people who do this are more likely to make a smooth transition to work or further study after their

Your Future Toolkit

The My Future Self Reflection Tool is a short online questionnaire and report, developed exclusively for University of Manchester undergraduates. It can help you figure out what to do next, to put you on target for a successful future. You’ll find it on My Manchester when you log in.

The Atrium in University Place is where you can access face-to-face Careers information and guidance.  It is open all year round, including vacation time. Tel: 0161 275 2829. The Information Team can help you research your options and there is information on reference and to take away. You can book a guidance appointment with a Careers Consultant to explore options, and get feedback on applications and interviews from an Applications Adviser. The FBMH careers team also offer guidance in your School at specific times during semester time.

The Careers Service Website contains information, advice and interactive services. Explore tailored sections for each year of study and international students, plus general sections on job hunting, career options and applying for jobs.

Your Careers Account “CareersLink” lists job vacancies and careers events. You can also choose to receive email alerts about relevant jobs and events.  We advertise thousands of vacancies each year: everything from summer internships and part-time jobs, to industrial placements and graduate jobs and internships.

Use Social Media?  Check out our Facebook page, Careers Blog and Twitter feeds.  Join the Careers Facebook Group for Biological Science students to stay on top of careers and for specific tips and advice for Biological

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Important information including University Regulations is available here:

Work and attendance regulations

The college monitors your work and attendance throughout the course. Your work and attendance is also monitored by the University for your BIOL10900 unit. This monitoring is for your own benefit (to make sure that you are coping with your programme and keeping up with any continuous assessment elements) as well as to confirm that you are actually attending the University and College. In practice, only a small number of students contravene these regulations and are called to account for their actions.

You are expected to attend all of the classes for which you are registered, and to be familiar with their content.

You must submit all associated work (e.g. essays, practical reports) by the dates stipulated. Completion of all appropriate examinations and tests is compulsory.

If your work or attendance gives cause for concern you will, in the first instance, be asked to explain your position to your Xaverian Advisor (in the case of absences from classes at Xaverian College) or your Academic Advisor (in the case of absences from University sessions). This will be triggered if your attendance at Xaverian College classes falls below 75% or if you miss more than one scheduled University teaching session for BIOL10900 without a valid reason. If you continue failing to meet the work and attendance requirements, you will be issued with a written warning informing you that, should your work and attendance not come up to the required standard, you will not be allowed to take examinations.

On receipt of a warning letter you will be given the opportunity of meeting with the Programme Director to explain your position.

If you are refused permission to sit an examination, you have the right to appeal. Information on Academic Appeals can be found here:

Permitted Absences

Permitted Absences from Xaverian College

If you need to be absent from a class or tutorial, for reasons other than ill health you must supply documentary evidence to your teacher strongly supporting your reasons for absence well in advance of the occasion in question. If you are granted leave of absence your attendance will be recorded as a permitted absence.

Permitted Absences from The University

If you need to be absent from a practical class or tutorial activity, for reasons other than ill health you must supply documentary evidence to your Academic Tutor and the School of Biological Sciences Student Support Office strongly supporting your reasons for absence well in advance of the occasion in question.  If you are granted leave of absence your attendance will be recorded as a permitted absence.

Religious Observance

If religious observance affects your attendance at normal teaching and learning activities including any assessments in ways that will cause problems, you should discuss the issue with one of the Advisors at Xaverian College. The School and College will give sympathetic consideration to your problems and will try to make reasonable adjustments. However, adjustments can only be made provided they maintain the standard of your programme (e.g. you will not simply be excused from parts of the programme affected by your religious observance or from satisfying overall attendance requirements). You must ensure that you make arrangements to copy notes from another student for any missed classes.  Similar principles apply if religious observance affects your attendance at assessments (e.g. presentations or practical tests). You should discuss the issue with the Senior Advisor before the assessment date, and the College/School will use its best efforts to reschedule the assessment to accommodate your needs (e.g. by changing your scheduled slot in a programme of assessed presentations).

Deadlines for handing in assessed work will not normally be extended to allow for religious observance, and you must therefore schedule your work accordingly.

For guidance on the University’s examinations and religious observance policy please see .

Guidelines on ill health

You should register with a local General Practitioner who is willing to provide evidence in the form of letters, or comments and a signature on a self-certification document. A list of GP practices can be obtained from the Student Occupational Health Services, any University Hall of Residence and some pharmacies. According to guidance issued by the General Medical Council it would not be regarded as good practice for a family member to be the registered GP or to offer treatment, except in the case of an emergency.

You should always consult your GP (or for emergencies the Accident and Emergency Department of a hospital) if your illness is severe, if it persists, or if you have any concerns about your health. Your Xaverian Advisor will give you guidance on the effect of any absence from your studies and your options if you consider your illness has affected your studies. If you have repeated episodes of ill health that are affecting your attendance and/or studies, you may be referred to the Student Occupational Health Services.

Absence due to illness affecting attendance at Xaverian College

If you are unwell and feel unable to attend the College to attend your classes then you must inform Mr Ray Ski at Xaverian by email You should ensure that you keep a copy of both the email itself and the confirmation of reading the email. You must do this as soon as possible, so that all options can be considered, and certainly no later than the day and start time of your compulsory class.

If you do not do this then you will normally be considered to have been absent from the class without good reason in which case you will be recorded as having an unauthorised absence. Until your return to the College you must also inform us of any further missed classes.

Absence due to illness affecting attendance at University sessions (BIOL10900)

If you are unwell and feel unable to attend the University to take a tutorial (whether this is delivered face to face or online) then you must inform the School of Biological Sciences Student Support Office immediately and they will complete a Notification of Absence form for you. You can inform the office in person, through a friend or family member*, by telephone (0161 2751487) or by email ( If you send an email you must ensure that you keep a copy of both the email itself and the confirmation of reading the email, as there may be serious implications of being absent and consequences for your academic progress. You must do this as soon as possible, so that all options can be considered, and certainly no later than the day and start time of your compulsory class. You must also notify your tutor by email, as s/he records student attendance after every tutorial.

If you do not do this then you will normally be considered to have been absent from the class without good reason in which case you will be recorded as having an unauthorised absence. Until your return to University you must also inform us of any further missed tutorials.

On your return you must report to the Student Support Office to complete a Self-Certification Form. This MUST be completed within 7 days of your initial absence.

If illness keeps you away from the University for more than 7 days including weekends, you must consult your GP. If you do consult a GP and he/she considers that you are not fit for attendance at the University, then you should obtain a note from the doctor to that effect or ask him/her to complete Part III of the University form ‘Certification of Student Ill health’ copies of which are available at local GP surgeries. You should hand this certificate to the Student Support Office as soon as you return to University and no later than 7 days after your return. The use of the “Certification of Student Ill Health” form by GPs, as described above, has been agreed by the Manchester Local Medical Committee. A GP may make a charge for completing the form.

* If you are so unwell that a friend or family member has to contact the Student Support Office on your behalf it will only normally be possible for them to provide information for you – they will not be able to learn of the implications of your absence on your academic progress, which you must discover for yourself on your return to health. The Faculty staff will not engage in any dialogue with third parties regarding your studies without your explicit, written consent.

Absence affecting submission of written coursework or attendance at progress tests for Xaverian College

If, as a consequence of illness or other mitigating factor, you wish to seek an extension to a deadline for submitting written coursework for a course unit at Xaverian, you must contact one of the Advisors at Xaverian by email and provide appropriate supporting evidence. The application for extension must be made BY 10AM THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY OF THE DEADLINE and NOT retrospectively.

If, as a consequence of illness or other mitigating factor, you are unable to attend a progress test for a course unit at Xaverian, you must contact Mr Ray Ski by email ( and provide appropriate supporting evidence. This must be done BY 9AM OF THE DAY OF THE PROGRESS TEST and NOT retrospectively.

Absence from examinations due to illness

You should make every effort to attend all examinations; it is often surprising how well candidates who are ill can perform in written examinations. If necessary (e.g. contagious diseases), special arrangements can be made to take the exam in isolation from other candidates; if you cannot write (e.g. due to a broken arm), it may be possible for someone to write for you. If you feel you might experience any examination difficulties, you must inform Xaverian College as soon as you can.

If you are so ill you are unable to take an exam you must contact Mr Ray Ski ( as soon as possible, and certainly no later than the day and start time of your examination. You should complete a School of Biological Sciences Mitigating Circumstances Form which must be supported by appropriate independent third-party supporting or collaborative documentation such as a Doctor’s note or letter signed by your GP or a letter from your health care professional. If the information is of a highly confidential nature, you may submit your evidence in a sealed envelope, marked for the attention of the ‘Chair of the Mitigating Circumstances Committee’, School of Biological Sciences. Students who attend a hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department must obtain written confirmation of attendance either from the hospital or subsequently from their GP confirming their attendance and stating the nature of the emergency. A hospital attendance card alone will not be accepted as appropriate evidence of illness. Submission must be made via the online Mitigating Circumstances form by the deadlines given at the start of this handbook. Requests for mitigation submitted after this date for the end of an examination period cannot be considered without a credible and compelling explanation as to why the circumstances were not known or could not have been shown beforehand (and in no circumstances after results have been released).  Any requests for mitigation made after the deadline will need to be submitted as an Academic Appeal:

If you miss a unit examination through illness, you will be required to take the examination again in the resit examination period. Provided that you have followed the procedures described above, this re-examination will normally be counted as your first attempt.

The link to the Mitigating Circumstances Forms will be available on the Blackboard programme area and will also be sent to you via email.

Please note: Some doctors surgeries can take 2 weeks to provide you with a letter of evidence, so it is important to organise this as soon as possible. If your evidence will not be available until after the deadline, you must ensure your application form is submitted on time and notify the Student Support Office when they can expect to receive the evidence.

Illness not resulting in absence from examinations

You may be unwell but able to proceed with an examination, but feel that your performance will have been impaired. If you wish this to be taken into account you must follow the same procedures as in the section above. Note that long-term chronic conditions or suffering from stress, anxiety or feelings of panic would not normally be considered a mitigating circumstance. If you anticipate or experience any of the latter problems you are strongly encouraged to contact the counselling service (further information available at and your GP.  If you suffer from chronic conditions, including mental ill health, you are strongly advised to obtain support from the DASS:

Interruption of Studies

It is the expectation of the University that students complete their programme in one continuous period of uninterrupted study.  It is understood, however, that students may encounter personal difficulties or situations which may seriously disrupt their studies.  In such instances, students may be granted a temporary interruption to their studies.  If students have been, or are being, affected by mitigating circumstances that have lasted or are expected to last for a significant period, or that may impact upon a significant number of units, it may be better for students to apply for an interruption to their studies.

If an application to interrupt a programme of study is approved, it would normally be to help students recover from medical problems, or problems of a personal or financial nature which are having, or may have, a negative impact on performance. However, the School has the flexibility to consider and make decisions on whether to approve requests for interruption in relation to other circumstances too, e.g. work placements.

In the first instance students should speak to members of staff within the School – Academic advisor, Programme Director, Student Support Office, Senior Advisors – about whether a period of interruption would be the most appropriate course of action.  If students decide to make an application, they need to make an appointment (via the Student Support Office) to meet with either the Senior or Deputy Senior Advisor who will provide the application form and go through it with students.  Students will need to include evidence to support their application, e.g. medical evidence.

Mitigating Circumstances Committee

Further information about Mitigating Circumstances can be found on the University website here:

Sometimes circumstances or events beyond your control may adversely affect your ability to perform in an examination/assessment to your full potential. The University defines mitigating circumstances as ‘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; or worsening of an ongoing illness or disability, including mental health conditions; (please see the following DASS webpage for examples of disabilities:
  • the death or critical/significant illness of a close family member/dependant;
  • significant family or personal crises or major financial problems leading to acute stress and
  • absence from the University for public service, for example, jury service.

Circumstances or events that would 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;
  • the act of religious observance;
  • 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;
  • disruption in an examination room during the course of an assessment which has not been brought to the attention of, or recorded by, the invigilators (including instances such as fire alarms or other noise disruption).

Please be aware, mitigation will NOT result in the changing of any marks. Instead, mitigation may result in you being permitted to sit the examination again in the next available examination period.   In the case of mitigation being granted for an examination taken in the August resit period, this will involve taking an interruption year and returning to sit your examinations in the next relevant examination period (January or May).

Please note some doctors surgeries can take 2 weeks to provide you with a letter of evidence, so it is important to organise this as soon as possible, if your evidence will not be available until after the deadline, you must ensure your application form is submitted on time and notify the Student Support Office when they can expect to receive the evidence.

You will be notified of the outcome of your submission during February for Semester 1, June for Semester 2 and September for the resit period.

If you are found to have been deceitful or dishonest in completing the Faculty Self-Certification form or the Mitigating Circumstances form you will be liable to disciplinary action under the University’s General Regulation XVII: Conduct and Discipline of Students (

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The work that you do this year will require knowledge of and conformity with health and safety rules. It is consequently important for you to gain a wide understanding of the legal and practical requirements for working safely.

The University of Manchester is subject to British and European Community law on health and safety. The University has therefore, a duty to formulate health and safety policies and to promote these. From time to time the University issues its updated “Health and Safety Policy Statement”, as well as Codes of Practice and Guidance Notes. Following the requirements stipulated in the latter, the School of Biological Sciences is required to devise regulations that are suited to its work.  These regulations apply to staff, students and visitors to the Faculty. Similar obligations and procedures apply to all employers in the UK, so that preparation and familiarity gained now could stand you in good stead for future employment. Please see the Health and Safety pages on the Faculty intranet.

An important set of regulations that require close attention are those that relate to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health; the COSHH Regulations. Everyone is required by these regulations to make an assessment of the risks that might arise during the storage or use of the substances that they use in their work. You must ensure that no one will be adversely affected as a consequence of the decisions that you make. During undergraduate practicals you will find that all risks will have been assessed for you by the practical coordinators (for specific risks relating to individual practical classes) and by the Teaching Laboratory Technicians (for COSHH; also known as single substance risk assessments). Bear in mind that the term substance covers a wide range in relation to risk – biological as well as chemical. See

It should be understood that these rules are not designed to prevent potentially hazardous work from taking place, but that they are designed to make sure that the work is done safely. This means that substances that might be hazardous to health can continue to be used when due precautions are taken by those engaged in the work. You are thus obliged to take these things into account yourself.  You are entitled to expect that due care has been taken by those responsible for supervising your work, but it is important to remember that your willing co-operation for the implementation of safety measures is required. It is thus reasonable to expect that, so far as is reasonably practicable, you prepare in advance for the work that you will undertake. You are required to take notice of the relevant safety information provided at the start of each practical laboratory class and to wear the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  In all cases this will consist of a white laboratory coat and goggles that must be worn for the full duration of  all ‘wet’ practicals.  Other items of PPE will be made available as appropriate e.g. gloves.  You are required to keep the use of all personal items to a minimum in the laboratory in line with Good Laboratory Practice (GLP).  This includes mobile phones and other electronic devices.  If digital devices are required then iPads will be provided, which are fully disinfected between classes and do not get used outside of the laboratory to minimise the risk of contamination to other users.

The first stage in the COSHH process is called risk assessment. You are required to refer to published information and, where appropriate, to ask for advice when carrying out this assessment. Manufacturers and suppliers are legally obliged to provide written information about the storage and use of substances. The range of examples to be considered is large, so that each individual substance must be considered, both alone and in conjunction with other substances to be found adjacently e.g. the same cupboard or in a mixture. The fact that a substance is within a container may not provide sufficient protection in all the circumstances that might arise, i.e. you are required to anticipate what could happen in the event of an accident.  Flammability is one example of the information to be provided but you would also need to know if a substance became hazardous or more hazardous upon heating (physically and/or chemically): i.e. would it become explosive; how it might react in combination with other things?  Then, what safety precautions and remedies must be provided?

The next stage is to decide how and in what circumstances a substance might be used safely, even if there is a risk. If there is a risk or the consequences of an accident could be serious, it would be necessary to consider the use of a satisfactory substitute. Someone in authority must decide this.

The principles of risk assessment cover all forms of activity in the place of work, and every activity should be assessed before you start work.  A person in authority will normally have carried out this assessment on your behalf, and it is important to adhere to the protocol you have been given.  You must be familiar with the contents of the relevant Risk Assessment before you start any form of work, and you must not make any changes to work procedures without the permission of the practical coordinator or supervisor.  Risk Assessments for most common procedures can be found at on the Faculty intranet.

Finally, a decision has to be made by a person in authority, e.g. your supervisor; about who should do the work and in what circumstances should the work be done. You can expect to be informed about any particular hazards and methods that apply in a laboratory, so please take note during the safety briefing at the start of any practical class. Please note that if you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should inform the relevant member of academic staff (e.g. Practical Unit Coordinator or Supervisor) immediately, so that an individual risk assessment can be undertaken.  Please be assured that your confidentiality will be maintained and the outcome of the risk assessment will be handled with discretion.

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It is important that all students should have the best possible learning experience throughout their course and that this should not be disrupted by fellow students. To ensure this happens, we expect you to:

  • Show consideration in your behaviour towards other students, and towards the staff, including administrative, technical and academic staff and occasional lecturers.
  • Show respect for the professional team of Teaching Technicians who prepare your practical classes and support your learning experience.  It is important for your own safety and the safety of your fellow students and other laboratory users that you adhere to laboratory safety rules and behave in a professional and respectful manner at all times.  Any student found to be behaving in a way that it not deemed acceptable will be excluded from the laboratories immediately and further action will be taken by the Technical Manager.
  • Participate fully in all timetabled practical teaching/examining sessions.
  • Ensure that you do not commit yourself to other activities (e.g. part-time work) which interfere with your ability to devote sufficient time to your studies. The maximum amount of part-time work recommended by the University is 15 hours per week, but you should consider carefully whether this will interfere with your studies. If possible try to obtain work which is flexible such that you can reduce your hours near to examination periods.
  • Maintain good communications with the administration of your degree programme. This will be via the Student Support Office, your Academic Tutor and Academic Advisor and your Programme Director. In addition, you should check your University and Xaverian College email accounts on a daily basis. You should make sure that any change of address is notified promptly.
  • Attend all compulsory teaching sessions. If you are unable to attend, for instance because of illness, then you must follow the appropriate notification procedures. You should arrive on time and remain within each session until told that you can leave.
  • Attend all lectures: this is the best way for you to understand the unit content and the context of the material you are expected to cover. Make use of the supplementary material provided by Xaverian College and The University. Note that attendance will be recorded at all Xaverian College sessions and, if you are unable to attend, for instance because of illness, then you must follow the appropriate notification procedures.
  • Behave in lectures, labs, clinics, and in the learning support areas of Xaverian College and of the University in an appropriate manner. e.g. arriving on time, not talking in lectures, not using mobile phones or tablets to make calls, send texts/email, or use social media sites.
  • Respect the general health and safety requirements that apply to all work in laboratories and clinics, and any additional advice given to you in relation to particular procedures. You should ensure that you wear clothing appropriate to the laboratory.


The life sciences are observational and experimental sciences concerned with living systems. It is therefore important that your education should be appropriate and that you should gain experience of working with tissues of living organisms. Some of the practicals may require the use of invertebrates or tissues or cell components from vertebrates, including humans.

In some units it is important that you gain experience in human experimentation. Some practical classes may require human volunteers and the only possible source is those students registered for the units. In the many years that similar practical classes have been held, students have found them interesting and worthwhile. None of the procedures which volunteers are asked to undergo are inherently dangerous. No volunteer has ever suffered serious ill effects and there is no compulsion for students to act as subjects. You will be given full information and asked to complete a Consent form if you volunteer. All practicals involving human volunteers have been approved by the University Committee on the Ethics of Research on Human Beings. Such practicals have been banded into Band 0, 1 and 2 according to an assessment of Health and Safety risk and medical ethical considerations. You will be given full information and asked to complete a Consent form for each Band 1 and 2 practical.

If you have any reservations about participation in practicals using animals or their tissues, you should discuss them with your Programme Director before registration.


Plagiarism is a serious offence – it is treated as seriously as cheating in exams.

  • As a student, you are expected to cooperate in the learning process throughout your programme of study by completing assignments of various kinds that are the product of your own study or research. Coursework, dissertations and essays submitted for assessment must be your own work, unless in the case of group projects a joint effort is expected and this has been indicated by the Unit Coordinator. For most students this does not present a problem, but occasionally, whether unwittingly or otherwise, a student may commit what is known as plagiarism, or some other form of academic malpractice, when carrying out an assignment. This may come about because students have been used to different conventions in their prior educational experience or through general ignorance of what is expected of them or of what constitutes plagiarism.
  • This guidance is designed to help you understand what we regard as academic malpractice and hence to help you to avoid committing it. You should read it carefully, because academic malpractice is regarded as a serious offence and students found to have committed it will be penalized. At the very least a mark of only 30% would be awarded for the piece of work in question, but it could be worse; you could be awarded zero (with or without loss of credits), fail the whole unit, be demoted to a lower class of degree, or be excluded from the programme, depending on the severity of the case.

Academic malpractice includes plagiarism, collusion, fabrication or falsification of results and anything else intended by those committing it to achieve credit that they do not properly deserve. You will be given exercises and guidance on plagiarism/academic malpractice in tutorials and if you are unsure about any aspect of this you should ask your Academic Tutor for advice.  The University Library has produced online resources to help students in avoiding plagiarism and academic malpractice at:

All students are required to confirm that they have read and agree to the University’s declaration on Academic Malpractice as part of the online registration process.

Further information on Academic Malpractice and how to avoid it can be found at

The University uses electronic systems for the purposes of detecting plagiarism and other forms of academic malpractice and for marking. Such systems include TurnitinUK, the plagiarism detection service used by the University.

As part of the formative and/or summative assessment process, you may be asked to submit electronic versions of your work to TurnitinUK and/or other electronic systems used by the University. If you are asked to do this, you must do so within the required timescales.

The School also reserves the right to submit work handed in by you for formative or summative assessment to TurnitinUK 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.

You will be given an opportunity within the tutorials to submit a draft essay through this system, and it is very much in your best interests to do this so that you understand how it works.

Conduct & discipline of students

General University information on the conduct and discipline of students can be found at  

Faculty policies for students on communication and dress code, social networking. and drugs and alcohol can be found at: (Communication and Dress Code) (Drugs and Alcohol) (Social Networking)

The University Library has produced online resources to help students in avoiding plagiarism and academic malpractice at:

Information on Academic Malpractice and how to avoid it can be found at

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.

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