AP0518 - Investigative Biotechnology

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn how to conduct a scientific investigation, including how to formulate a scientific hypothesis and then initially write an investigative proposal on how the actual laboratory work will be carried out. You will learn specific methods that will enable you to safely grow, identify and count various food spoilage micro-organisms. The effects of these organisms on various beverage products will be investigated by using various scientific methodologies such as Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrophotometry (GC-MS) and the abundance of certain microbes will be investigated using Next Generation Sequencing.

How will I learn on this module?

The module will be a mix of educational sessions, lectures in the early weeks, to increase your knowledge of how to conduct a scientific investigation, followed by student centred learning and further lectures on specific topics related to the investigation – e.g. the use of the scientific equipment that will be used throughout the investigation. The laboratory sessions on the microbiological part of the exercise are then undertaken over a 7 week period. Once the microbiological parts of the work are finished, then you will analyse the microbial populations as well as the volatile components. Results seminars will be held to discuss the outcomes of the analysis followed by summative and then formative peer assessed presentations, prior to the final formal write up being submitted at the end of the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

As well as formal lecture time which will include questions and answer sessions, you will be supported in the laboratory sessions by Academics and technical staff. Many of the skills that you will learn will be taught during these laboratory sessions and these are hands on skills, for instance microbial identification and the counting of these populations. Results tutorials are also a part of the module and these allows groups of students to discuss not only the results you have obtained within your research group, but also with other groups within the class with academics. Group student presentations to peers will also allow peer review and feedback from academics within these sessions will inform the writing up process for all students.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. You will be expected to build on your research skills knowledge. To move to hypothesis lead research that is both industry and research linked.
Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
2. You will be able to understand the theory behind the investigation and when to implement each technique. You will be expected to retrieve, analyse and summarise your data using the correct analytical methods and data handling. You will be able to present your data and critically analyse through peer review other groups work compounding the skill set acquired during this module.
Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
3. Personally you will achieve further experience and confidence, sharing and critically analysing scientific data produced by your peers.

How will I be assessed?

There will be three assessments: One formative and providing practice and feedback but no marks. Then there will be two summative assessments providing 20% and 80% of the module marks. (MLO 2,3)
Formative Powerpoint presentation re results obtained from the laboratory investigation. Feedback will be in session
The Summative Powerpoint presentation (20%) will be informed by results obtained from the laboratory investigation. Feedback will be in session from academics and peers (MLO 1,2, 3)
The Summative written report (80% and 2500 words), feedback will be supplied on a standard University feedback sheet




Research methods

Module abstract

Food spoilage is a serious problem for the food processor as well as the food retailer and the consumer. This module offers the opportunity to investigate specific aspects of food spoilage (and its consequences) and revolves around the microbial contamination of commercially available fruit juices by various strains of yeast and bacteria. The investigation will take into account nutritional content of the chosen beverages, any additives used in their production and various storage conditions of the food product.
This scientific investigation will include the following methodologies:
Microbial culture, enumeration and identification
Microbial community analysis using next generation sequencing
Microbial abundance using quantitative PCR
Volatile metabolite analysis using GC - MS

Course info

UCAS Code C100

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Applied Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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