AP0613 - Current Topics in Biology and Microbiology

What will I learn on this module?

In this module, there is a strong emphasis on independent work. The module will start with a short series of lectures, in which current and relevant topics in biology and microbiology will be presented. These lectures provide you with a basis of knowledge and insight in the topics. Apart from the factual knowledge, the problems associated with the topics and the scientific approach in the research studies will give you a greater insight in the topics and their scientific and social-economical, agricultural and/or ecological relevance. You then will explore one of these topics in depth by performing an independent focussed literature study. You will make extensive use of literature searches using relevant academic databases to gather information on your topic, and to obtain an overview of the current state of knowledge and research in the world wide scientific community in this area. You will locate and access the relevant data in the scientific literature, compare and contrast these data and critically evaluate your findings in a focussed literature review of your topic. These are important skills to master – all scientific research starts with exploring and evaluating what is known already. The module equips you with the skills needed to set up and write a scientific review paper.

How will I learn on this module?

Initially you will learn from the lectures that introduce a range of different current topics in biology and microbiology. The information in these lectures are “stepping stones” to a further exploration of the subjects; you extend your knowledge by directed reading on each topic. You will then start a learning journey to become an “expert” in one of the topics: you will study this topic in breadth and depth by performing a focussed literature search. You will obtain and practice valuable skills like accessing and extracting data from the literature, critically evaluating, comparing and contrasting data and opinions, and structuring and writing a focussed scientific review.
Throughout the module you will keep a learning log in which you will both record your own progress at key points throughout the module and will also undertake an end of module peer evaluation exercise. This will provide you with opportunity to reflect upon your learning process and progress which will support you in your personal development as a scientist.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

In the first stages of the module, tutor-led lectures will introduce you to a range of current investigative topics. These lectures and additional associated support material will be made available on Blackboard. For each of the topics presented, lecturers will guide you to a selection of ‘key’ scientific sources. The module’s Blackboard site also has an electronic reading list attached, which enables you to access relevant directed reading and other learning material.
Key literature skills workshops will provide you with additional support. You will be asked to indicate a number of investigate topic preferences and allocated a topic tutor, with whom you will meet and communicate with to discuss progress and potential problems in your survey.
You will have the opportunity to complete a ‘formative feedback template’ containing your preliminary literature search ideas and findings to your topic tutor to gain formative feedback.

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. Develop in depth knowledge and understanding in the allocated topic by engaging in a literature review
Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
2. Plan a literature investigation of a particular topic, using appropriate sources and databases to search for information
3. Produce a literature review which gives an overview of, and critically evaluates the scientific data present in the literature
Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. Reflect upon the learning process in an ongoing process of personal development

How will I be assessed?

This module is assessed by coursework. There are two components:

1. Learning log – throughout the module, you will keep a log book in which you will record your progress in at key module points. Progress will be recorded via a series of templates and include:- concise summaries of topic lectures attended, summaries of meetings/ communication with topic tutor, submission of formative feedback template, action upon formative feedback from topic tutor, summaries of literature, structure of review. Your learning log will end with a final end of module peer evaluation exercise (word limit for peer evaluation exercise: 1000 words). The learning log counts for 30% of the module mark. (MLO’s: 2 and 4)

2. Literature review – at the end of the module you will have produced a literature review on your topic, exploring the topic in breadth and depth. (word limit for literature review is 2,000 words). The literature review contributes 70% of the module mark. (MLO’s: 1, 2 and 3)


AP0412, AP0515 and AP0516



Module abstract

In Current Topics in Biology and Microbiology, you will explore a relevant topic in Biology or Microbiology in breadth and depth, and will write a focussed literature review on this topic. This gives you a rare opportunity to focus on, and become an “expert” in one topic. You will exercise and gain skills that are pivotal for a biologist: accessing and analysing data, comparing and contrasting, and communicating a balanced representation to the scientific community. These skills will enable you to approach a scientific project with confidence, as you will have gained the experience necessary to review the present knowledge on your topic. This will give you an excellent start in the range of further research opportunities or careers which require excellent analysis and written communication skills..

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.  

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