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Unit information: Current Topics in Biology in 2020/21

Unit name Current Topics in Biology
Unit code BIOL10001
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Whitney
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


Biology is frequently in the news, often within the headlines. The subjects covered are numerous and often controversial, yet rarely explained in any depth. Within this unit we aim to introduce the current topics in an unbiased manner, introducing all the arguments so that Biology students are well informed about these subjects and can access peer-reviewed factual information on which to base their opinions. This will enable the students to participate in conversations on such topics in an informed manner. The topics will vary from year to year based on what is timely and getting press attention, but it is likely to include subjects such as the use of animals in research, use of GM crops, relevance of conservation work, cloning/stem cell research etc etc. The unit will also showcase new research outputs from the school and broader subject area. The aim of the unit is to help inform our student of the unbiased background to the current controversies in Biology and give a grounding in the current research from the School to allow them to develop a better appreciation of the scientific approach within Biology.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit a successful student should:

1. Have gained experience in critically assessing the quality, scope and impacts of new research findings;

2. Have good comprehension of the framework in which science is now performed within the context of personal, social, ethical and cultural standards;

3. Have an appreciation for the impacts that new scientific findings can have on society, individuals and the environment;

4. Be able to find, interpret and critically assess sources of scientific information;

5. Have gained experience in written communication skills with an ability to relay scientific information with clarity.

Teaching details

Lectures and practical workshops.

Assessment Details

The unit mark is based on two essays, each worth 50% of the unit mark. These assess ILOs 1-5.

Reading and References

Hendersons Dictionary of Biology. (2011) Lawrence. Pubs: Benjamin Cummings