Natural Sciences

NSC1001 - Frontiers in Science 1 (2013)

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MODULE TITLEFrontiers in Science 1 CREDIT VALUE30
MODULE CODENSC1001 MODULE CONVENERProf Geoffrey Nash (Coordinator)
Number of Students Taking Module (anticipated) 40
DESCRIPTION - summary of the module content

This module will introduce you to the wide range of interdisciplinary scientific research being undertaken across the University, and beyond, through a series of seminars and workshops.

It will give you a broad foundation in experimental science, through laboratory sessions, which you will build upon in Stage 2 and your research project in subsequent years.

It will also help you to develop and reflect on a portfolio of transferable skills essential to all scientists including scientific writing, group working, and presentation skills. These will be developed through activities such as the creation of a science blog and a student conference.

This is a compulsory module for students on the BSc/MSci Natural Sciences and should be taken in parallel with NSC1002 Mathematics and Computer Science: Integrative Tools for Natural Sciences and NSC1003 Foundations in Natural Science.

AIMS - intentions of the module

The aims of this module are to give you a foundation in the key skills required to become a successful scientist including learning how to apply the experimental method, developing your ability to make reliable measurements and reporting them in an effective and ethical manner. This module also aims to help develop your understanding of the history, philosophy and methodology of science and the mechanisms by which science advances, and to give an overview of what it is like to be a scientist and the environment and context in which scientists work.

INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES (ILOs) (see assessment section below for how ILOs will be assessed)

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

Module Specific Skills and Knowledge

1. Describe current areas of scientific research
2. Plan and execute experimental investigations
3. Analyse and interpret scientific results

Discipline Specific Skills and Knowledge

4. Critically assess and summarise a scientific article or presentation
5. Prepare and maintain a neat and accurate laboratory notebook
6. Recognise ethical frameworks that apply to science

Personal and Key Transferable / Employment Skills and Knowledge

7. Communicate effectively and accurately both orally, including through presentations, and in writing
8. Use the library and a range of online resources to research a topic of interest
9. Operate effectively within a team


SYLLABUS PLAN - summary of the structure and academic content of the module

The module will begin with a short (approximately 10 lectures) introduction to the History, Philosophy and Ethics of Science, together with workshops designed to equip you with the professional skills required to undertake the laboratory sessions.

The laboratory sessions consist of core experiments designed to complement and support the biology, chemistry and physics taught in the first year. Each week there will be one three hour laboratory session, with six sessions each for biology, chemistry and physics.

Each week there will also be a research seminar, or a professional skills workshop. The seminars will be given by leading researchers and will be followed by group activities. The professional skills workshops will cover areas such as communication, scientific literature, science funding, and career paths in science. There will be a student conference at which there will be a group presentation summarising one of the research seminars, or a piece of recent scientific research.


Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities 100.00 Guided Independent Study 200.00 Placement / Study Abroad 0.00
Category Hours of study time Description
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 10 Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 16 Scientific research seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 54 Laboratory practicals (18 x 3 hour practical laboratory sessions)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 16 Professional skills workshops
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 4 Student conference
Guided independent study 200 Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments


FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT - for feedback and development purposes; does not count towards module grade
Form of Assessment Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
Oral review of laboratory notebooks 2 x five minute oral assessments of notebooks within class 2,5 Oral
Oral review of practical skills 3 x five minute oral assessment of practical skills within class 2,5 Oral
Individual presentation 10 minutes 3,7 Oral
Blog review Two pages 1,3,4,6,7,8 Oral


Coursework 85 Written Exams 0 Practical Exams 15
Form of Assessment % of Credit Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
Data analysis assignment 10 3-5 pages 2 Individual marksheet
Ethics essay 10 1000 words 5 Individual marksheet
Formal laboratory report 1 7 1000 words 2, 3, 5, 6 Individual marksheet
Formal laboratory report 2 7 1000 words 2, 3, 5, 6 Individual marksheet
Formal laboratory report 3 7 1000 words 2, 3, 5, 6 Individual marksheet
Formal laboratory report 4 7 1000 words 2, 3, 5, 6 Individual marksheet
Formal laboratory report 5 7 1000 words 2, 3, 5, 6 Individual marksheet
Formal laboratory report 6 7 1000 words 2, 3, 5, 6 Individual marksheet
Group presentation 15 20 minutes 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 Marksheet and oral feedback
Skills portfolio 23 6-8 pages 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 Individual marksheet


DETAILS OF RE-ASSESSMENT (where required by referral or deferral)
Original Form of Assessment Form of Re-assessment ILOs Re-assessed Time Scale for Re-assessment
Data analysis assignment Data analysis assignment 2 August ref/def
Ethics essay Ethics essay 6 August ref/def
Formal laboratory report 1 Formal laboratory report 1 2, 3, 5, 6 August ref/def
Formal laboratory report 2 Formal laboratory report 2 2, 3, 5, 6 August ref/def
Formal laboratory report 3 Formal laboratory report 3 2, 3, 5, 6 August ref/def
Formal laboratory report 4 Formal laboratory report 4 2, 3, 5, 6 August ref/def
Formal laboratory report 5 Formal laboratory report 5 2, 3, 5, 6 August ref/def
Formal laboratory report 6 Formal laboratory report 6 2, 3, 5, 6 August ref/def
Group presentation Individual presentation 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 August ref/def
Skills portfolio 1000 word report summarising two research seminars 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 August ref/def



Eight assessments are required for this module. The re-assessment will be the same as the original except the group presentation and the skills portfolio.

The group presentation will be re-assessed by individual 10 minute presentation summarising one research seminar, including a review of presentation skills

The skills portfolio which will be re-assessed through the submission of a 1000 word report summarising two research seminars, including the broader/ethical context of the research.

The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 40%. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

INDICATIVE LEARNING RESOURCES - The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of
information that you are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Convener

Basic reading:

Kuhn, T. S. (1996) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 3rd Ed.).

Popper, K. (1959 [1935]) The Logic of Scientific Discovery (New York: Basic Books).

C. G. Hempel, The Philosophy of Natural Sciences, Prentice Hall 1966.

S. Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, Chicago University Press 1998.

Hacking, Ian (1983) Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science.

Okasha, S. Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction.

Resnik, DB (1998) The Ethics of Science. Routledge.

Rollin, B (2006) Science and Ethics. Cambridge University Press.

Michael P. Marder (2011) Research Methods for Science, Cambridge University Press.




Web based and Electronic Resources:

Web of Science


Other Resources:


Reading list for this module:

There are currently no reading list entries found for this module.

ORIGIN DATE Wednesday 09 July 2014 LAST REVISION DATE Thursday 10 July 2014
KEY WORDS SEARCH Natural science, scientific ethics, practical science, research methods