In this year, you can focus on your favourite areas of biology through a wider range of optional modules. The major themes of this year include health and disease in humans and other animals, evolution, biodiversity, imaging and wildlife photography.
You will be researching primary scientific literature and learn how to communicate effectively in your own scientific writing.
Higher Skills in the Biological Sciences
You will gain confidence and skills in using the biological literature. Your knowledge of statistical methods will be reinforced and developed, and, through designing your own experiments, you will learn to build statistical principles into their experimental methodologies. Through writing a dissertation, you will learn to collate information from multiple sources, and describe a field clearly and concisely, revealing the state of present knowledge and prospects for future developments.
The Genome and Human Disease
In this module you will learn about the structure and function of the eukaryotic genome, including that of humans, and the approaches that have led to their understanding. You will learn about techniques that are employed to manipulate genes and genomes and how they can be applied to the field of medical genetics. By using specific disease examples, you will learn about the different type of DNA mutation that can lead to disease and how they have been identified. Practical elements will teach you about basic techniques used in medical genetics such as sub-cloning of DNA fragments into expression vectors. Practical classes and problem based learning will be used to explore the methods used for genetic engineering and genome manipulation.
Students MUST choose a minimum of 60 credits and a maximum of 80 credits from the modules below. At least 10 credits MUST be from either:
Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics
Primary objective of the module
This module will examine in depth the analysis of drug action, and its application to the design and use of current therapeutics.
This module will examine in depth the analysis of drug action, and its application to the design and use of current therapeutics. We will define what drugs are, the different ways they act at the cellular and molecular level, and pharmacokinetic principles underlying drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination. This framework will provide the basis to explore the rationale and goals of treatment for clinical therapeutic case studies. These will highlight major current challenges to human health – in cardiovascular and respiratory disease, diabetes and obesity, CNS disorders, cancer and infectious disease. Overall, the student will develop a deep understanding of what the discipline of pharmacology represents, and its application to both basic biological research and current and future medical advances.
Infection and Immunity
You will study microbiology, learning about pathogenic microbes including viruses, fungi, parasites and the roles of bacteria in health and disease. You will learn how the body generates immunity; the causes of diseases associated with faulty immune responses will be considered. In applied microbiology you will be introduced to recombinant DNA technology and prokaryotic gene regulation.
Evolutionary Biology of Animals
Introduces key evolutionary concepts and their application in the animal kingdom. Areas you will study include the history of evolutionary thinking, natural selection versus the neutral theory, sexual selection and human evolution.
You will learn about the forces determining the distribution and abundance of species and be able to use models to predict the dynamics of populations under a range of conditions. You will recognise how interactions between species can drive co-evolutionary processes leading to an understanding of the organisation of natural systems working systematically from populations through to communities, ecosystems and biogeographical scales.
Studying this module, you'll be able to explain how the nervous system develops, is organised, and processes information. This will be achieved through presentation of comparative invertebrate and vertebrate studies, consideration of evolutionary concepts, and a detailed analysis of the development, structure, and function of the mammalian brain. The lecture sessions are complemented by workshops on Drosophila and chick embryo development, on the neuroanatomy of the human spinal cord, and dissection of pig brains subject to the availability of tissue.
Biodiversity Field Course
This seven day residential field course module is based in the English Peak District. The module aims to introduce students to practical techniques in field biology and data presentation and analysis against a background of awareness of the variation in British habitat types. You will be encouraged to use self-collected data to learn about basic concepts in ecology and conservation such as species-area relationships, the measurement of richness and diversity and the design of reserve networks.
In this module you’ll learn about the development, physiology and regulation of mammalian reproduction, the control of avian reproduction, and lactation. You’ll cover mammalian reproduction, including physiological control, cyclicity and reproductive efficiency. You’ll also consider avian physiology and reproduction in domestic fowl, with an emphasis on the nutritional and metabolic challenges associated with commercial rates of egg lay. Lactation will also be covered, where you’ll learn about the development of mammary tissue, the biochemistry of milk synthesis, the endocrine control of milk secretion, and the metabolic correlates of lactation in dairy ruminants. You’ll have a mix of lectures and practical laboratory sessions for experimental work and dissection.
Animal Behaviour and Physiology
A comprehensive introduction to the study of animal behaviour, from the physiological and genetic bases of behaviour to its development through learning and its adaptive significance in the natural environment. Through practical classes, you will learn about the physiological basis of fundamental behaviours. Using examples from across the animal kingdom, you will learn how predictive modelling, experimental and observational approaches integrate to explain how and why animals behave as they do.
Behavioural Ecology Field Course
This is a residential field course in Portugal based on research projects in animal behaviour, ecology and parasitology, carried out in small groups. You’ll stay at a purpose-built field centre in beautiful countryside outside Lisbon. Typical projects involve finding out why birds carry feather mites, how honeybees choose where to forage, and why frogs make so much noise in the mating season. This module takes place over 15 days in the Easter vacation.
The Green Planet
This module explores the evolution of key plant systems through deep time, and the significance of this process for understanding modern ecology and food security. You will learn about the challenges that plants faced when moving onto land and evolutionary innovations within the early spermatophytes. You will also gain an understanding of the power of natural selection in producing plant diversity over deep time.
Examines the basic concepts of vertebrate embryonic development. You will discuss specific topics including germ cells, blood and muscle cell differentiation, left-right asymmetry and miRNAs. The teaching for this module is delivered through lectures.
Biological Photography and Imaging I
Through practical sessions, you will learn the techniques of biological image production and manipulation, including the ability to generate biological images of the highest technical quality and scientific value. You will build an understanding of the principles behind photography and how to get the most out of state of the art photographic and imaging equipment.
Neurobiology of Disease
This module will teach you the underlying neurophysiology and pathology associated with several common CNS disorders and the neuropharmacology of currently available medication. You will learn about the neurotransmitters and pathways involved in normal brain function and how changes in these contribute to abnormal function. You will also decipher the pharmacological mechanisms of drugs used to treat these CNS disorders. You will cover numerous human diseases including those with great significance such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia and autism.
Bacterial Genes and Development
Molecular events that occur during the control of gene expression in bacteria will be explored. You'll learn by considering case studies, which will show you how complex programmes of gene action can occur in response to environmental stimuli. You will also study the regulation of genes in pathogenic bacteria.
You'll cover the key groups of eukaryotic and prokaryotic microorganisms relevant to microbial biotechnology, principles of GM, and strain improvement in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The impact of “omics”, systems biology, synthetic biology and effects of stress on industrial microorganisms are explored, alongside the activities of key microorganisms that we exploit for biotechnology.