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Biological Sciences > Research-led learning environment

1. How does the Biological Sciences department define a research-led environment?

Keywords: research-led teaching, research excellence

The Biological Sciences department defines itself as a research-led environment because of its focus on research-led teaching where undergraduate students are exposed to the outcomes of its research staff. The department also claims each academic is actively involved in research within its various research groups.

“Our focus is on research-led teaching by which we aim, not only to convey well-established information to students, but also to expose them to ideas and results at the cutting edge of biology through world class researchers.”

How is the course taught?: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/bio/ug/faqs/teaching

“The department has a formidable reputation for fundamental and applied research and has received a 5-rating in every national research assessment exercise conducted. This research excellence has major benefits for students who are able to acquire first hand experience in research skills, using state-of-the-art equipment with expert guidance. Each academic in the Department is actively involved in novel research...”

Research in Biological Sciences: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/bio/ug/research/

The Department of Biological Sciences also defines itself as a research-led environment by claiming to offer degrees of the highest quality at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, together with an exciting research environment that is among the very best in the UK.

It claims to specialise in fundamental and applied research in molecular, biochemical, and cellular biology, with opportunities to carry out multidisciplinary research with a range of other centres of excellence at Warwick.

Welcome to the Department of Biological Sciences: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/bio


2. What provisions are made for students to engage in research?

Keywords: vacation projects, final year research projects, URSS

The department claims that undergraduates contribute to the research output of the department in two main ways.

Firstly, during the three years at Warwick, students have the opportunity to apply for and obtain research experience during the vacations where they can work alongside PhD students, technicians and postdoctoral staff in our research laboratories. These vacation projects attract a variety of bursaries.

Secondly, during the final year of the degree course, undergraduates have an opportunity to apply the knowledge they have acquired to a research project that forms part of the final year assessment.

In both scenarios, the department claims that the research carried out by students is novel and may contribute to work that is published in the scientific literature or that provides the basis for future research projects.

Undergraduate Research: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/bio/ug/research/

The department claims that the final year research is a chance to choose from over 200 general projects and over 100 laboratory-based projects offered by academic staff. Students are closely supported by a member of staff and carry out their research in state-of-the-art laboratories.

Research Projects: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/bio/ug/faqs/teaching

Apart from the above formal arrangements for undergraduates to carry out research, the Department supports students in obtaining research bursaries through the Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS) to carrying out original research in the department. Through this the students are able to acquire first hand experience in research skills, using state-of-the-art equipment with expert guidance.

Nine Students awarded URSS Bursaries: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/bio/ug/news/eight_students_awarded/


Conclusion:

The department defines a research led environment as one that has a reputation for research excellence and a focus on research-led teaching.

Opportunities for undergraduates to engage in research comes from involvement in vacation research projects in the departments research laboratories; the final year assessed research projects and the URSS bursary scheme.




DISCOURSE ANALYSIS:

 

Reference: How does the Biological Sciences department define a research led environment?


In defining a research-led environment, the department uses the words ‘research-led teaching’ and ‘research excellence’. Phrases such as ‘Our focus is on research-led teaching by which we aim, not only to convey well-established information to students, but also to expose them to ideas and results at the cutting edge of biology through world class researchers’ are used to show theirs is a research environment where the emphasis is on exposing students to the latest ideas and outcomes from leading researchers.

How is the course taught?: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/bio/ug/faqs/teaching


It is clear from the discourse used on its website that the department also considers itself as a research-led environment because its ‘formidable reputation for fundamental and applied research’. They highlight this by repeatedly stating their RAE results and grant amounts received on several parts of their website: ‘We are one of the UK’s leading biology departments having achieved a rating of 5 in each national research assessment (RAE), together with a score of 23 from 24 in our most recent QAA teaching assessment. The Department is highly research-active, holding research grants totalling £29M from a wide range of funders including the Wellcome Trust, UK Government, BBSRC, MRC, NERC, the EC and industry.

About the department of biological sciences: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/bio/about/


Reference: What provisions are made for students to engage in research?


The discourse on the website is very positive, clear and detailed in explaining the provisions the department has made for students to engage in research. This agrees very much with the department’s ethos of providing an engaging and active research environment. The department’s commitment to engaging its undergraduates is evident by the fact that it has a Research page on its website dedicated solely to undergraduate research.

This page systematically divides the research opportunities into informal vacation opportunities and the final year assessed research project, as an effective way of highlighting the main ways in which students contribute to research output at the department.

Undergraduate Research: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/bio/ug/research/

Possibly as a means of attracting keen undergraduates who are interested in research, the department describes the state-of-the-art laboratories, staff and the variety of possible research projects that can be undertaken in the final year.

Our undergraduates find the experience of undertaking a research project most rewarding. This is a chance to choose from over 200 general projects and over 100 laboratory-based projects offered by academic staff.’

‘Students are closely supported by a member of staff and carry out their research in state-of-the-art laboratories.’

Research Projects: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/bio/ug/faqs/teaching