University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : Deanery of Biomedical Sciences : Biomedical Sciences

Undergraduate Course: Biomedical Sciences 3: Obtaining, Analysing and Evaluating Data (VS1) (BIME09009)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityPart-year visiting students only
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course will attempt to develop students' understanding of how current biomedical knowledge is generated from experiment and disseminated through the research literature, to prepare students for the transition to senior Honours. It aims to provide students with a secure grounding in the core skills of designing scientifically valid experiments, collecting, analysing and interpreting data, communicating scientific ideas and results, and in being able to critically evaluate primary research papers. It will cover a variety of experimental techniques commonly used in the biomedical sciences, so that students have an appreciation of when such techniques can be used, their strengths and weaknesses, and the type of data they produce.

Teaching will be through a combination of lectures, practicals (both wet and dry), and tutorials. Each practical and tutorial will be linked to associated material covered in the lecture series. Extensive use will also be made of online learning environments to provide learning resources, self-assessment exercises, and peer-feedback mechanisms (PeerWise). A variety of in-course assessments (in both semesters) will give an opportunity to students to assess their understanding of material and to receive both formative and summative feedback.
Course description Lectures will be structured around several themes:

Keynote lectures - 2 lectures illustrating how integrated application of the approaches covered in this course are furthering understanding of key issues in biomedical science.

Obtaining data from experiments - 5 lectures on experimental design and key experimental techniques (including PCR, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, transgenic animals, loss/gain of function analyses, imaging techniques, electrophysiology). Lectures will frame the techniques in the context of specific biomedical topics (eg role of genes in diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimers and stroke). The emphasis will be on a 'problem-driven' rather than 'technique-driven' mode of teaching.

Interpreting data (getting knowledge from it) - 3 lectures on data handling, statistical analysis (use and misuse), formal hypothesis testing. Each lecture will be linked to associated learning resources, online self-assessment materials, or a practical.

Evaluation of research papers - 4 lectures focusing on the research literature, peer review, how to quickly assimilate key points of a paper, plus critical evaluation of papers ie assessing whether the various steps in the research study were both carried out in an appropriate manner and reported in a sufficiently detailed way (considering issues of experimental design, choice of experimental techniques, statistical analysis, and interpretation). These lectures prepare students for tutorial sessions where these skills will also be developed.

Additional lectures will serve to introduce the concepts involved in specific practicals and to give rapid (class-wide) feedback on assignments (prior to detailed individual feedback delivered in other ways).

Practicals are a vital part of the course, giving students experience in designing experiments, collecting data and analysing it. Two lab-based practicals will run in semester 1, and two computer-based practicals. Lab practicals will have associated elements of in-course assessment.

Practical 1 (Sem.1) (Laboratory) Haemoglobin Concentration and Red Blood Cells
Estimating haemoglobin concentration in students┐ blood, using the HemoCue automatic measuring system, and (on another blood sample) by spectrophotometry. Counting RBCs with a haemocytometer. Quantitative analysis.

Practical 2 (Sem.1) (Computer-based) Data Analysis and Statistics
Using the SPSS package to perform basic exploratory analysis of (supplied) datasets, plus performing formal statistical tests (t, 1-way ANOVA, 2-way ANOVA, correlation) of several hypotheses

Practical 3 (Sem.1) (Laboratory). Gene expression and function
Studying genes using transgenic mice. Research a mutant phenotype identified in a forward genetic screen using genetic, anatomical, and molecular methods. Hypothesis testing, quantitative analysis, and data presentation.

Practical 4 (Sem.1) (Computer-based) Gene Data-mining
Following up forward genetic screens and high throughput molecular approaches. Extracting information on a specific gene from online resources, including systematic literature searches.

Two tutorials in semester 1 will focus on training in reading and evaluating research papers. The papers used will be common to the whole class. Assessment of this learning outcome will then be tested in a December exam, based on a paper that will be provided to the class several weeks beforehand. Questions will address issues of experimental design, choice of techniques, hypotheses, statistical analysis.

Biomedical Sciences 3 VS1 is the semester 1 component of Biomedical Sciences 3 suitable for visiting students.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Part-year visiting students only (VV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 17, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 3, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 11, Online Activities 2, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 159 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Feedback on the in-course assessments will be provided, and a feedback session for the December exam will be held.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students successfully completing the course should have: * developed an understanding of broad themes within contemporary biomedical sciences as well as an understanding of key experimental approaches, plus an appreciation of when they can be used, their strengths and weaknesses, and the type of data they produce
  2. * acquired the ability to efficiently search for, understand, interpret, and evaluate primary biomedical research papers ('paper analysis') as well as the ability to frame scientific hypotheses and to design scientifically valid experiments to test them using appropriate experimental techniques
  3. * gained experience in collecting sets of data, analysing them, and testing formal hypotheses using statistical software programs
  4. * demonstrated technical skill in writing up concise and accurate practical reports as well as shown understanding of the theory relating to the practicals
  5. * gained competence in the accurate and effective communication of biomedical concepts and data as well as gained experience of working as a team member
Reading List
It is not easy to recommend books for this course as there is a diverse background in knowledge and previous courses taken. It is not necessary to buy any books at all.

If your basic mathematics is a bit rusty, you should first read the "Quantitative Skills Refresher Notes" posted on Learn.

The following may be useful for those who find maths and statistics a challenge:
Maths & Stats for the life and medical sciences, M. Harris et al., 2005, Scion Publishing Ltd. This is part of the "CatchUp" series.

Intuitive Biostatistics, H. Motulsky (2nd Edn) 2010, OUP.

A good book covering experimental design, statistical analysis, and much else besides is:
Asking Questions in Biology, C. Barnard, F.Gilbert, P.McGregor, (4th edn) 2011, Pearson.
(The 3rd edition, published in 2007, would also be fine.)

Check that the books are appropriate for your knowledge background by consulting a library copy before purchase. Note that you don┐t always need the most recent edition for statistics/maths books ┐ things have not moved on that much at this level. Second hand books will do.

A fairly comprehensive set of papers on statistics by Bland et al. can be found at:
Note that after following the link to a particular paper it is best to select the PDF version rather than viewing the default HTML version.

Also, the British Medical Journal has produced an excellent collection of material regarding experimental design and statistics:

Other papers will also be listed by individual lecturers.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Martin Simmen
Tel: (0131 6)51 1773
Course secretaryMs Beth Muir
Tel: (0131 6)51 1513
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information
© Copyright 2016 The University of Edinburgh - 3 February 2017 3:25 am