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Unit information: SWBio DTP: Science in Society, Business and Industry in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name SWBio DTP: Science in Society, Business and Industry
Unit code BIOCM0013
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Curnow
Open unit status Not open



SWBio DTP: Statistics and Bioinformatics, SWBio DTP: Core Skills for Life Scientists, SWBio DTP: Rotation Project 1, followed by SWBio DTP: Rotation Project 2

School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


Whether one is a researcher working in an academic or an industrial environment, one is answerable to various stakeholders for the conduct of research and its outcomes. The overall aim of this unit is to explore these various interest groups and their expectations of a professional researcher.

Academic research is usually funded directly or indirectly from tax revenues, charities or by industry and is regulated by policies set by various government agencies. We will explore what science delivers for society, and what the expectations are on researchers to meet these goals.

Using a UK and Europe-based perspective we will explore the current funding framework, policies and legislative structures surrounding research and how such policies are devised. It will include how publicly funded science is communicated to various interest groups, and how success is measured in research.

With respect to industry and business, we will explore the ways in which academic and industry-based research might differ, gaining an understanding of commercialising intellectual property and how research outputs can be protected and commercialised.

On completion of this unit, the student will have developed a thorough understanding of the societal context in which they are working, an appreciation of the relevant ethical and legislative frameworks that dictate how they can operate, an understanding of how their research is managed and constrained by various interest groups. The student will also be familiar with how academic and industry-based research interact and how such research is exploited for financial or societal gain.

Intended learning outcomes

To be able to:

  • Describe the expectations of a professional researcher, in terms of the legal and ethical frameworks that control research
  • Communicate research to the wider community.
  • Understand the expectations of what scientific research delivers both to society and industry
  • Identify the likely outcomes and impacts of their research. The student will understand how these are best communicated and have an appreciation of how these might be exploited for societal or commercial benefit.

Teaching details

This unit will have an intensive two weeks of classroom-based instruction, comprising lectures, workshops and seminars, including some small-group activities. This will be followed by recommended- and self-directed study, to prepare the student for the various assessment activities.

Assessment Details

There are three items for summative assessment, and together these span the breadth of the subject areas included within the unit: There will be three assessments: (1) to demonstrate an understanding of communicating research to a wider community by writing a Press Release (30%); (2) to demonstrate an understanding of the likely impacts of research by writing a Pathways to Impact Statement (40%), and (3) to demonstrate an understanding of the expectations of researchers and scientific research by writing a Policy Document (30%)

Reading and References

This will be provided throughout the unit, but will change from year to year depending on what is topical at the time.