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Unit information: Biosystems and Biorobotics in 2022/23

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 Biosystems and Biorobotics
Unit code EMATM0062
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director . Zhang
Open unit status Not open
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School/department School of Engineering Mathematics and Technology
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Unit Information

This class brings together life scientists and engineers in an interdisciplinary environment where solutions are imagined with stakeholders in mind. The aim is for students to learn a common language, and the inspirations and techniques needed to design, build and deploy novel biorobotic solutions in the real-world. From microrobots for cancer treatment, to swarms monitoring wildlife, or soft robots for prosthetics, they will engineer solutions to today’s global challenges.

Classes will alternate between short lecture introductions to bio-inspirations useful for a new generation of robotics solutions (e.g. synthetic biology, animal behaviour, material science, biomechanics, medicine), and hands-on demonstrations by experts of their robot technologies that are either bio-inspired (soft robots, swarm robots, tactile robots), or are used to aid in the exploration of life-sciences (e.g. monitoring wildlife, automatic scientific discovery, microrobots).

Your learning on this unit

By the end of the class, students should be able to:

  • Exploit knowledge and a common language in both disciplines (life sciences and robotics) to design cross-disciplinary solutions in biorobotics.
  • Generate new ideas of bio-inspired technologies for robotics and new robotics applications for life-sciences.
  • Design examples of biorobotics with stakeholder relevance.
  • Assess the societal/environmental impact of their technologies.

How you will learn

The unit will be taught through online or in-person short lectures introducing key concepts in life-sciences that may serve as an inspiration or challenge for robotics, and hands-on demonstrations (which can also be filmed and put-online) of roboticists walking through how their robots works (programming, hardware), and how it is deployed. Breakout sessions (in-person or online) will allow students to reflect on the material, brainstorm new ideas, assess stakeholder relevance, and ethical and societal implications.

How you will be assessed

  • Assessment 1 (30%) Demonstrate knowledge and a common language in both disciplines (life sciences and robotics) to design cross-disciplinary solutions in biorobotics through a blog post explaining an area new to you.
  • Assessment 2 (35%): Pretend to be a consultant, and produce a series of ideas for biorobotics solutions for a given stakeholder challenge (mind map or other similar visual presentation of ideas), highlight ethical/societal issues and mitigations (short video).
  • Assessment 3 (35%): Exam assessing key knowledge of Biorobotics concepts.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EMATM0062).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.