University of Technology Sydney

91103 Honours (Life Science) 1

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2023 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Science: Life Sciences
Credit points: 24 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.

Description

The Honours course offers an exciting opportunity for advanced training in research. It is designed to enhance skills and knowledge, and equip students for research in life and environmental sciences. The principal activity is a research project, conducted over two consecutive 24-credit-point sessions (Autumn start: Autumn and Spring; or Spring start: Spring and Autumn). In close collaboration with an academic supervisor, each student plans and undertakes research in an area of interest. Students learn to define hypotheses, objectives and aims, work to available time and resources, use appropriate research methods, critically assess information, and develop complex arguments in detail. With guidance from their supervisor, students are required to analyse and interpret the scientific data generated during the research project. Students develop their science communication skills by presenting their work in written and oral form. The research project and outcomes are presented in a thesis, which comprises the main assessment component.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Work independently on a research project to investigate a medical, biomedical, environmental or biotechnology related problem or question in their chosen discipline area.
2. Devise a research plan and design suitable experiments to test a scientific hypothesis.
3. Critically review the literature in their chosen discipline area and identify gaps in knowledge.
4. Generate new disciplinary knowledge or professional science processes.
5. Communicate research in oral and written formats to peer and expert audiences.
6. Work effectively and collaboratively as part of a research group or team.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of following course intended learning outcomes:

  • The ability to apply, evaluate, and use advanced contemporary technologies, specialist knowledge, and skills in the development and process of a research framework and research project within a relevant Life Science discipline. (1.1)
  • The skills to design a hypothesis, define aims and demonstrate advanced research methods, critical evaluation and analysis of new and existing knowledge whilst evaluating its potential application for the world of the future. (2.1)
  • Demonstrate and apply risk management, accurate record keeping and an understanding of the legal and regulatory requirements in the research specific to a project or discipline area including but not limited to compliance with workplace health and safety procedures, enactment of ethical procedures, and articulation of the significance of scientific work in a global, social, and ethical context. (3.1)
  • The ability to demonstrate self-reflection, analysis, initiative and creativity to evaluate evolving concepts and solutions in life science, including mainstream and alternative sources of knowledge and technology, to enhance the rigorous application of scientific practice and skills while understanding the social, disciplinary, economic and contextual barrier relevant to their project or discipline area. (4.1)
  • The skills to disseminate effectively complex scientific notions by different means including writing, reading, generating scientific figures, field and laboratory photography, speaking and listening, sharing the role of life science within local, regional, and global settings to a wide range of audiences. (5.1)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

1. Disciplinary knowledge

Students will apply the disciplinary knowledge and practical skills they have developed throughout their undergraduate studies to an unfamiliar research question in order to develop new knowledge or scientific methodologies, which will help reinforce and extend their existing knowledge of their chosen discipline area. To successfully complete their Honours research project, students will continually build a much deeper understanding of their discipline area or topic throughout the year by critiquing and/or using existing scientific literature to complete aspects of their project such as data analysis, experimental design, and/or interpretation of results.

2. Research, inquiry an critical thinking

Students will learn how to structure and investigate a research problem or question from the design stage to the final report (thesis), making use of suitable scientific methods. At the commencement of their project, students will formulate scientific hypotheses and learn how to design appropriate experiments to test and evaluate these hypotheses with input from their supervisors. Students will also continue to develop and refine their problem-solving skills by applying existing knowledge or literature to solve unknown or unfamiliar ‘real world’ problems.

3. Professional, Ethical and Social Responsibility

Students will continually advance and refine their professional skills through independent research, participating in research group meetings, working with other researchers and students in the laboratory, and managing the day-to-day aspects of their project. Students will have an opportunity to cultivate key professional attributes such as time management, researching and critiquing scientific literature, problem solving and personal organisation required for a successful career. As part of the initial stages of their projects, students will learn other professional skills such as laboratory risk assessment and management, conducting ethical research, maintaining thorough laboratory notes, critically analysing data from experimentation, producing a technical scientific thesis and preparing and delivering scientific presentations. Honours research projects are designed to address an unresolved question, limitation or need in medical, biomedical, biotechnology and environmental science practice designed to bring about new knowledge and improvements in human health, immunity and the environment. Each of these aspects is crucial for society's need for effective and innovative health and environmental management to ensure community health and longevity. As students investigate their project, they will build an awareness of the current limitations and issues within their chosen discipline, and aid in the development of solutions to these limitations. This may involve the development of new methodologies or new interpretations of existing data frameworks.

4. Reflection, Innovation and Creativity

Honours consists of a year of independent research that provides the environment and support for students to build on the independent learning skills developed during their undergraduate studies. During the Honours year, students will be mentored to become competent scientists with the ability to research new practices or literature, assess the quality and validity of new methods, and adapt to, or learn, new techniques. Students will be trained on, and gain expertise with, state-of-the-art instruments, software and processes used in biological sciences research (medical, biomedical, biotechnology and environmental sciences) and in industry, equipping them with the ability to apply their technical skills to new workplace or research scenarios. Students will also develop their ability to learn collaboratively with other scientists, an attribute necessary for continued career development in modern science, through participation in research group meetings, discussions of common problems in the laboratory, and sharing laboratory skills.

In order to generate new disciplinary knowledge or industry practice, Honours students will be mentored by their supervisors and senior research students to develop their ability to produce innovative methods or practices to address current limitations in the biological sciences (medical, biomedical, biotechnology and environmental science). As students gain research independence in their project, they will learn to independently seek and test solutions to unfamiliar problems they encounter during their project, as well as their project hypotheses, using literature or practical research.

5. Communication

The communication of a student's project findings are an essential part of the Honours year. Students will continue to developing and refine their written scientific communication skills by writing a technical scientific thesis and project proposal with concise literature review. Both written works require students to critically analyse and distill information from a variety of literature and data sources in a coherent body of work. Depending on their project, some students may also have the opportunity to collaborate on the drafting of a journal article. Students will also refine and advance their oral communication skills through the preparation and presentation of two project-related seminars.

Teaching and learning strategies

Guided learning and mentorship

Teaching and learning in the Honours course occurs on an individual level and is linked to the student's research project. Students will master crucial laboratory skills in formal training sessions with academics, professional research technical officers and/or senior postgraduate students. With assistance from their supervisors, students will learn other practices required in a research environment, such as preparing risk management plans, project plans, designing experiments, and research ethics. Supervisors will provide guidance and personalised feedback on assessments to help students learn academic writing, literature critique and presentation skills. Students may also request one-on-one meetings with their supervisors to discuss specific problems or progress. More detailed information on student feedback modes is presented in the Assessment Feedback section. As the student develops subject matter expertise, they are expected to develop more independence in their learning and responsibility for their project.

Independent learning

As students develop into independent researchers, they will be responsible for further developing their professional attributes and knowledge. Students will be responsible for providing draft work for critique in a timely manner, and providing regular updates to their supervisors. Students will also learn to use online resources such as scientific literature, webinars or tutorials to find solutions to project problems, develop a deeper understanding of their research topic and results, or select appropriate data analysis methods. Online support materials provided on CANVAS, and in the detailed Honours Program and Manual document available through CANVAS, are designed to complement the supervisors' guidance on literature review writing, presentation skills and general research practices.

Research group meetings and collaborative learning

All Honours students are an active part of their research group and are expected to show 'good citizenship' within their respective groups. Each research group has a different meeting calendar (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) and students should contact their supervisors for the schedule. Research group meetings are your main channel for receiving regular feedback and guidance from your supervisors and other research students. This includes attending and giving updates at group meetings and participating in other activities such as journal clubs or practice seminars, which will help you learn and refine critical review, scientific and presentation skills. Students will have the opportunity to learn from other students in their research group and assist others by providing or receiving project suggestions, assistance or feedback from each other. Students are encouraged to assist each other with day-to-day problems in the laboratory and to learn from senior research students in the laboratory.

Content (topics)

The content of each research project will be determined by the supervisory panel in consultation with the student. The initial project background and aims are published in the Honours project proposal booklet. Students are expected to work with their supervisors to prepare a project plan in the initial weeks of semester. Laboratory inductions and the risk management plan should be completed during the orientation period wherever possible as these processes are essential for gaining security access.

Communication will be done via the CANVAS website. A combined site has been created in order to reach all students enrolled in Autumn and their supervisors, i.e., 91103 Honours FT (Medical and Molecular Bioscience) 1, 91105 Honours FT (Environmental Science), and 601201 Medical Biotechnology Thesis 1 - Autumn 2021. It is requested that all students turn on their notifications for the announcements in the CANVAS settings in order to receive the information in a timely manner. Students should also consult the comibned site regularly.

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Proposal Seminar

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Disciplinary knowledge

3. Professional, Ethical and Social Responsibilty

5. Communication

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

2, 3 and 5

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.1, 3.1 and 5.1

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 5%
Length:

A 10 minute presentation, plus 5 minutes for discussion and questions from the audience.

Criteria:

Students will be assessed on their ability to:

  • Clearly and concisely present the background to their research, their aims and any hypotheses
  • Present their project design, methods and project plan
  • Prepare understandable and appropriate visual content that supports the presentation
  • Verbally communicate their research to their audience
  • Accurately and knowledgeably answer questions from the audience

Details of the assessment criteria are available in the Honours Program Manual and available on CANVAS.

Assessment task 2: Project Proposal

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Disciplinary knowledge

2. Research, Enquiry and Critical thinking

4. Reflection, Innovation, Creativity

5. Communication

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3 and 5

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.1, 2.1, 4.1 and 5.1

Type: Literature review
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 10%
Length:

The Project Proposal is to be 2,000 words maximum. This word count includes all text (after the title page), excluding tables, figures and their legends and reference list. A signed word count must be included on the title page.

Criteria:

This first written assessment is designed to provide students the opportunity to receive formative feedback on their writing style from their supervisory panel and assessors, and refine their academic literacy skills prior to thesis preparation and submission. The project proposal will layer form the basis for the first chapter of the thesis.

Students will be assessed on their ability to:

  • Discuss the issues relevant to their area of research by drawing upon multiple and current sources
  • Produce a focused and concise written review on their research topic, highlighting their understanding of the of the research conext of their work
  • Outline their aims, hypotheses, methodology and provide a brief project plan
  • Perform a critique of the literature and explain how their project may address gaps or limitations in published research
  • Produce a logically structured document with appropriate language, figures, layout and referencing

Details of the assessment criteria are available in the Honours Program Manual and available on CANVAS.

Assessment task 3: Thesis

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Discipline knowledge

2. Research, Inquiry and Critical thinking

3. Professional, Ethical and Social Responsibilty

5. Communication

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

2, 3, 4 and 5

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.1, 2.1, 3.1 and 5.1

Type: Thesis
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 70%
Length:

The thesis must be no more than 15,000 words in length, starting from the first page of Chapter 1 (but excluding tables, figures, references and appendices). A signed word count must be included on the first page of the thesis.

Criteria:

Students will be assessed on your ability to:

  • Critically evaluate the relevant literature and develop clear aims and hypotheses as required
  • Describe their experimental design and present methods in a clear, discipline-appropriate format
  • Clearly present and explain their experimental results
  • Apply appropriate data analysis or treatment methods as required by their project
  • Form appropriate scientific conclusions from data obtained by their research
  • Produce a well-written and logically structured thesis with appropriate language, figures, layout and referencing.

Details of the assessment criteria are available in the Honours Program Manual and available on CANVAS.

Assessment task 4: Final Seminar

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Disciplinary knowledge

3. Professional, Ethical and Social Responsibilty

5. Communication

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

3 and 5

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.1, 3.1 and 5.1

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 15%
Length:

This seminar presentation is 15 minutes in length followed by 5 minutes for questions from the audience.

Criteria:

Students will be assessed on their ability to:

  • Clearly and concisely present the background to their research, aims and any hypotheses, methods, findings and relevant literature
  • Prepare understandable and appropriate visual content that supports the presentation
  • Verbally communicate their research and findings to their audience
  • Accurately and knowledgeably answer questions from the audience.

Details of the assessment criteria are available in the Honours Program Manual and available on CANVAS.