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The University of Southampton

BIOL1020 Core Skills in the Life Sciences

Module Overview

This module is to generate an awareness of how biological research is carried out and reported. This will include an introduction to some of the online tools available for the storage, manipulation and computer visualisation of experimental data. It will describe the final goal of research - a scientific paper - as well as laboratory and data analysis techniques that are commonly used. It is expected that this module will give students skills that they can use in other modules and elsewhere.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Search online databases efficiently for scientific literature on specific topics
  • Use a spreadsheet to perform a simulation of a biological process
  • Perform and interpret simple descriptive statistics and statistical tests
  • Interpret and evaluate numerical scientific data
  • Investigate nucleotide/polypeptide sequences using online bioinformatics tools
  • Prepare presentation graphics of numerical data and molecular structures
  • Describe and explain common laboratory techniques for isolation, visualisation and investigation of biological samples


Topics covered on this module include: online sources of information and tools; graphical presentation of scientific data; biological units and measurements; the manipulation, analysis and generation of data in spreadsheets (including statistical analysis); introductory bioinformatics; molecular modelling; and an overview of common laboratory techniques for the isolation, visualisation and investigation of biological samples.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module is delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials and self-directed learning using the core textbook, plus online sources of information. There is also a hands-on library workshop covering efficient use of search engines and other skills related to finding information.

Independent Study122
Total study time149

Resources & Reading list

Practical Skills in Biomolecular Sciences - Biochemistry/Biomedical Sciences/Neuroscience/Pharmacology degrees. 

BLAST server. Software

Practical Skills in Biology - Biology/Ecology/Zoology degrees. 

ExPasy tools webpages. Software

Engage in Research.

JMol. Software



MethodPercentage contribution
Academic Integrity Test 
Data Analysis 5%
Essay 5%
Exam  (40 minutes) 35%
Knowledge database searching test 5%
Oral presentation 5%
Poster Project 10%
Project 5%
Project 20%
Referencing task 5%
Statistics assignment 5%
Synoptic exam 


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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