University of Chester

Programme Specification
Biological Sciences MRes
2017 - 2018

Master by Research

Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences

University of Chester

University of Chester

Parkgate Road Campus

Postgraduate (MRes)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year full-time, 2 year part-time

6 Years

Annual - September - October



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences

There are no subject benchmark statements for MRes Biological Science. However, the programme is designed to be consistent with the Characteristics Statement for Masters Degrees (QAA 2015) and Master's Degree Characteristics (2010) which are components of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education (the Quality Code), Part A: Setting and Maintaining Academic Standards. This relates particularly to the necessary descriptors for L7 training.


Biological Sciences

Wednesday 18th January 2017

  • To provide graduate students with the opportunity to develop an independent, substantial piece of scholarly research into an area that fits with the department's supervisory expertise.
  • To be informed by, and to contribute to, broader academic debates about the methods, approaches and practices that underpin the chosen scientific discipline.
  • To provide students with advanced scientific research training appropriate for both Level 7 and doctoral research.
  • To develop students' self-management, planning and communication skills.
  • To prepare fully those students with suitable interests for further postgraduate research at the Master/Doctor of Philosophy level and beyond.

Knowledge and Understanding

  • Demonstrated a comprehensive knowledge and critical understanding of the specialist area of the relevant discipline.
  • Demonstrated a detailed knowledge and understanding of selected themes and issues
  • Demonstrated a critical knowledge and understanding of the range, nature and value of primary and secondary sources of literature in the relevant discipline.
  • Demonstrated a critical understanding of the investigative techniques and research methods relevant to the specialist subject area

These Outcomes are captured through a number of the subject specific taught modules but particularly through a subject-specific MRes research dissertation module.

Thinking and Cognitive Skills

  • Been able to 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
  • Demonstrated the ability to read and use texts and other source materials both critically and empathetically while addressing content, context and perspective
  • Demonstrated the ability to analyse, synthesise, evaluate, apply and reflect upon information gained from academic and professional literature
  • Demonstrated the capacity to systematically plan, conduct and present a programme of original research.
  • Applied scholarly conventions

These Outcomes are captured through a number of the subject specific taught modules but particularly through a subject-specific MRes research dissertation module.

Practical Skills

  • Demonstrated the skills of the researcher including bibliographical skills, selection and synthesis of primary and secondary sources and the ability to provide original analysis in relation to questions appropriate to the discipline.
  • Demonstrated the skills of the researcher in systematically planning, development and execution of a research project

Transferable Professional Skills

  • Demonstrated the ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility
  • To have an understanding of the limits of their own knowledge and how this influences analysis and interpretations based on that knowledge
  • To have skills of self-evaluation to understand own strengths and weaknesses, challenge received opinion, and develop own criteria and judgement
  • To have key/transferable skills and confidence to undertake further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competencies that will enable the assumption of significant responsibility within relevant organisation

These Outcomes are captured through a number of the subject specific taught modules but particularly through a subject-specific MRes research dissertation module.

Communication Skills

  • Effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Use IT effectively to manipulate quantitative information to solve and present the outcomes of defined problems

These Outcomes are captured through a number of the subject specific taught modules but particularly through a subject-specific MRes research dissertation module.

The MRes Biological Science is offered as a number of potential pathways within the Department. It is comprised of two taught, Level 7 20 credit modules. These modules may be compulsory or elective, depending on the pathway followed. The taught modules are either followed, or taught alongside a pathway specific (140 Credit) research dissertation module.

Department of Biological Sciences

1) Conservation Biology Pathway

BI7139 Field Research Techniques for Wildlife Conservation (this option will cost an additional £2000)

BI7130 Conservation Genetics

BI7131 Wildlife crime

BI7132 Behaviour and welfare in wildlife conservation

BI7137 Managing wildlife populations and landscapes

BI7138 Biodiversity informatics (compulsory)

BI7140 MRes Research Dissertation (compulsory)

2) Wildlife Behaviour and Conservation Pathway

BI7130 Conservation Genetics

BI7132 Behaviour and welfare in wildlife conservation

BI7143 Wildlife Research Methods (Compulsory)

(Students must take BI7143 and choose between BI7130 and BI7132)

BI7140 MRes Research Dissertation

3) Cell and Molecular Biology Pathway

BI7144 Cell and Molecular Biology

BI7145 Skills for Cellular and Molecular Bioscientists

BI7140 MRes Research Dissertation

4) Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Pathway

BI7146 Stem cells and Tissue Engineering

BI7147 Models of Regenerative Biology.

BI7140 MRes Research Dissertation


Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
BI7130 7 Conservation Genetics 20 Optional
BI7131 7 Wildlife Crime 20 Optional
BI7132 7 Behaviour and Welfare in Wildlife Conservation 20 Optional
BI7137 7 Managing Wildlife Populations and Landscapes 20 Optional
BI7138 7 Biodiversity Informatics 20 Comp
BI7139 7 Field Research Techniques for Wildlife Conservation 20 Optional
BI7140 7 MRes Research Dissertation 140 Comp
BI7143 7 Wildlife Research Methods 20 Comp
BI7144 7 Advances in Cell & Molecular Biology 20 Optional
BI7145 7 Skills for Cellular and Molecular Bioscientists 20 Optional
BI7146 7 Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering 20 Optional
BI7147 7 Models of Regenerative Biology 20 Optional

MRes (180 credits)
Two taught Level 7, 20 credit modules (40 credits)
Subject specific dissertation (140 credits)



Applicants should normally possess an upper second class honours degree in any relevant discipline with additional emphasis placed upon the student's preparedness for study and performance at interview which will inform the selection process. A lower second class degree may be mitigated by substantial relevant work experience.

Decisions concerning the allocation of credit, either for admission or advanced standing, will be the responsibility of a Credit Allocation Panel. Credit value will be given for appropriate certificated or experiential learning completed within the previous five years and through which an applicant can demonstrate prior achievement of learning outcomes related to one or more programme modules. A student seeking advanced standing must apply before enrolment.

Each student will be interviewed as required in all Chester Research Degrees and the Interview record form will be completed and submitted to the Graduate School with the completed application.

There is currently no MRes in the Subject area Benchmark Statements. However, the programme's learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and content together with the methods of learning and assessment have been informed by the QAA's Master's degree characteristics guidelines and advice document (2010). Specifically students will have demonstrated

  • A systematic understanding of knowledge and critical awareness of current problems and/ or new insights much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline/ field of study
  • A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship
  • Originality in the application of knowledge and a practical understanding of how established techniques or research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline
  • Conceptual understanding that enables critical evaluation of current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline

Students will also have demonstrated the ability to:

  • 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
  • self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level

Students will also have acquired the transferable skills necessary for employment including:

  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
  • decision making in complex and unpredictable situations
  • The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development

Acquisition of core knowledge is achieved through lectures, seminars, workshops, audio-visual presentation, tutorials and private study, supplemented, where appropriate, with contributions by guest and visiting lecturers.

Depending on the MRes pathway, each taught module is assessed by the submission of one or more written coursework assignment (totalling 4000 words equivalent), oral presentations or two-hour examination. The format of the assessment will vary depending on the module content; e.g. data interpretation and evaluation, research proposal, evaluative or practical report, mini-review, poster etc.

The assessment of the research module comprises of:

1. An extended literature review suitable for publication in Annual Reviews Inc publication

2. Project report suitable for publication in discipline appropriate journal

3. Oral presentation

An individual external examiner will be appointed for each student project.

Reassessment - resubmission of the above papers in line with recommendations of the examiners.

On completion of this programme, a successful graduate will have acquired a range of communication and transferable skills (as embraced by both the educational aims of the programme and the programme outcomes - see above) valuable to their current or potential employers. The MRes will also prepare students for further research at Master/Doctor of Philosophy level.

This programme respects the standard University policies regarding admissions, widening access and participation, equal opportunities and APL, as applied centrally by the University. Consistent with the University's commitment to widening access and participation, the programme conforms to the University's flexible approach and welcomes applications from mature students and from groups normally under-represented in higher education.The University of Chester values the diversity of its student body and aims to provide quality of opportunity in all its activities. All suitably qualified students are welcome on this programme, irrespective of race, gender, disability or age. Every effort will be made to accommodate students with specific learning or physical needs and to ensure that all students benefit equally. Each case will be examined individually and the University's Inclusion Plans will provide guidance and support, as appropriate. International students who meet the admissions requirements are welcome and will enrich both the programme and the postgraduate community at the University; support and guidance are provided for international students at the institution, particularly through the International Student Welfare Officer.

All students are issued with a comprehensive programme handbook and a module handbook at the commencement of each module. Students needing further advice are welcome to consult their Programme Pathway Leader (who acts as the Personal Academic Tutor for students on the programme), or the Module Tutor.

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