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MSci Hons Natural Sciences

Mode of Study: Full Time Department: Natural Sciences
UCAS Code: FCF3 Duration/Length: 4 Year(s)
QAA Subject Benchmark: Not Defined Director of Studies: Dr K Davidson
Total Credit Points: 480 Credit Points Year 2: 120
Credit Points Year 3: 120 Credit Points Year 4: 120

Syllabus Rules and Pre-requisites

Educational Aims: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Unlike traditional science degrees, Natural Sciences at Lancaster allows students to pick from a wide choice of scientific areas and study two or more science subjects throughout their degree course. All students begin their degree studying three subjects; either three science subjects or two science subjects and a non-science subject. Subjects include: Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Communications, Computing, Engineering (Electronic and Mechanical), Environmental Science, Geography, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology and a wide range of humanities and social sciences. In the second year, students begin to specialise and can select from a series of themes, with a considerable variety of modules. For example, Biological Sciences themes include Microbiology and Biomedicine, Biochemistry and Genetics and Ecology and Environmental Biology. Students specialise further in years three and four. 

     The programme aims to:

    • Provide a high quality degree programme across a combination of disciplines, which combines intellectual challenge and relevance to current issues in Science.
    • Provide a broad programme of study across a range of sciences and scientific skills at University level, through the study of at least two main science subjects and the ability to choose modules from the Faculty of Science and Technology and from other Faculties.
    • Allow students to develop specialist knowledge in either one or two subjects, by studying these in greater depth during the degree programme and at Masters level.
    • Instil in students a sense of enthusiasm for science, an appreciation of its application in different contexts, and to involve them in an intellectually stimulating and satisfying experience of learning and studying.
    • Generate in students an appreciation of the importance of science in an industrial, economic, environmental and social context.
    • Develop in students, through an education in the science disciplines, a range of transferable skills of value in general employment and a diverse selection of career paths in the community, including research careers.
    • Develop in students the intellectual skills of reasoning, problem solving, self-expression and independence of research, thereby enabling them then to deal systematically and creatively with complex issues.
    • Provide students with knowledge and understanding of cutting edge science through the course of their studies, but particularly in the final Masters-level year. 

Learning Outcomes: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

    Graduates will be able to: 
    • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of a broad range of topics and themes relevant to their chosen pathway and appreciate, with depth, the current research in their chosen fields;
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the broad applicability of their chosen subjects in the wider context of scientific study;
    • Carry out a substantial independent scientific research project in their chosen field and progress to a career in academic or industrial research.
    • Demonstrate intellectual and professional skills in key areas of science;
    • Conduct experiments and data analysis techniques relevant to their chosen subjects;
    • Collect, analyse and present data relevant to their chosen fields; 
    • Demonstrate the skills necessary to plan, conduct and report individual investigations.
    • Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
    • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level
    • Retrieve, select, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources; including from relevant information technology;
    • Work independently and as part of a team;
    • Communicate effectively through written and oral presentations;
    • Exercise initiative and personal responsibility and make decision in complex and unpredictable situations;
    • Learn independently, manage their time and work to deadlines.
    • Show a greater sense of independence and self-reliance having studied in, and learnt about, a different society, culture and higher education system. 

    Subject specific learning outcomes will vary depending on each student’s combination of subjects but will be governed by the specific learning outcomes within each individual subject.

Learning and Teaching Strategies and Methods: Knowledge, Understanding, Skills

  • Teaching is hierarchical with a broad first year, becoming progressively deeper and more specialised in years two to four. The student experience is very much dependent on the pathway chosen, the subjects taken and the departmental methods of teaching. However, knowledge is mostly acquired through lectures and student-centred learning. Fundamental information in lectures is expanded by further reading which, by years 3 and 4, will include primary research papers. A combination of other teaching methods support: the acquisition of knowledge; the development of intellectual and practical skills; and transferable skills. These include: seminars, tutorials, workshops, projects, practical work and exercises, hands-on experience and coursework exercises. 

    In summary, the following teaching methods apply (although these are dependent on the subjects chosen):

    Knowledge and understanding is developed through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, practical sessions, coursework exercises and undertaking reading from a range of literature sources. 

    Intellectual skills are developed as follows:

    • Analytical skills are developed through workshop sessions, projects and practical classes and are informed by lectures and reading. 
    • Skills in interpretation and analysis of data are developed through seminars, practical classes, workshop sessions, coursework exercises and projects. 
    • Problem solving skills are developed through workshops, hands-on experience, practicals and projects.
    • Skills in critical evaluation are developed through lectures, workshops, practical work, projects and through reading of primary research papers.

    Practical skills are developed as follows: 

    • Test, measurement, experimental and evaluation skills are developed through lectures, workshops, practical classes, hands-on experience and projects.
    • Numerical skills, where applicable, are developed through practical classes, coursework exercises and workshops. 

    In many courses transferable skills are embedded and developed in modules throughout the curriculum:

    • Communication skills are developed through instruction and practice in writing reports and essays, giving presentations, preparing posters, and other general coursework.
    • General ICT skills are developed through use of computers in most aspects of the course and for communication in the University and beyond.
    • Information retrieval skills are developed in coursework and designed exercises and projects.
    • Data manipulation and presentation skills are developed through practical classes, report writing and projects.
    • Independent-learning skills are developed through coursework and projects.
    • Time management skills are developed through coursework and student projects.

Assessment Strategy and Methods: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Knowledge and understanding is assessed through unseen examinations. Examinations may consist of short answer questions, data analysis questions, and/or essay type questions. Coursework assignments, which include: project reports, presentations, laboratory reports, essays and progress tests, also tests students' knowledge and understanding. The relative weight of these components varies according to the type of module and its intended outcomes. 

    Intellectual skills are assessed by a combination of coursework exercises, practical and project work, written examinations and short oral presentations.

    Practical skills are assessed by a combination of practical and project work, essays and other exercises. 

    Transferable skills such as written and oral presentation skills, graphical presentation of data, general IT skills and information gathering are assessed principally by a variety of coursework assignments, e.g. written reports and essays, oral presentations and posters.

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