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Degree Programme Specification


To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences
Programme accredited by: n/a
Final award: BSc Hons Anatomy and Development, BMedSci Hons Anatomy and Development, BSc Hons VetSci Anatomy and Development
Programme title: Anatomy and Development
UCAS code: C183
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Biomedical Sciences
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: Peter Flatman
Date of production/revision: Feb 2017

External summary

The fields of Anatomy and Developmental Biology are closely interlinked. Knowledge of Anatomy is important in many areas of Biology and Medicine, including Developmental Biology. Similarly, Developmental Biology tells us much about how normal Anatomy is formed and maintained. Understanding the Anatomy and Development of tissues and organs is essential to the emerging area of tissue repair. The Anatomy and Development honours programme is open to both MBChB and Biomedical Sciences students, giving them an opportunity to gain specialist knowledge and skills that will enhance their future careers in research, clinical medicine or other areas. Edinburgh Medical School has a long-established reputation for excellence in biomedical research and teaching. Academic staff involved in cutting-edge biomedical research programmes rated as internationally excellent or world leading, bring a breadth and depth of research-based knowledge and expertise to their teaching and supervision, providing an outstanding student learning environment that fosters individual intellectual development in the study of Anatomy and Developmental Biology.

Educational aims of programme

Students on the Anatomy & Development BSc honours programme will follow the standard Biomedical Sciences BSc programme for the first two years, which includes a range of compulsory core courses that provide students with the essential skills required for successful study in a scientific discipline at senior honours level. They will also acquire a large body of subject-specific knowledge in basic aspects of biomedical sciences, supplemented by knowledge acquired from the study of optional courses, including outside subjects. The final two years of the honours programme will build on these foundations. The programme aims to provide its graduates with attributes that will prepare them for future study and employment. They will develop skills in independent thinking and critical enquiry and be able to communicate complex ideas clearly to a range of audiences, including the lay public. These attributes include:

  • Disciple-specific knowledge and understanding, including awareness of current and emerging issues and unsolved questions in Anatomy and Development.
  • The ability to synthesise factual information from diverse sources (including independent reading) to allow detailed understanding of complex scientific concepts and ideas.
  • Research skills, including the ability to critically evaluate published research papers, formulate specific hypotheses and design experimental strategies to test them.
  • A range of generic skills, including communication, critical analysis, time management and IT.
  • Personal and intellectual skills that give an adaptable and effective approach to further study and work.

The development of each student as a scientist and as an individual is fostered through:

  • Provision of courses that deliver specific knowledge of key aspects of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, including underlying scientific principles.
  • Opportunities to develop learning skills that encourage analytical and interpretative approaches to problem solving.
  • Opportunities to develop skills related to the design, execution and interpretation of scientific research studies in Anatomy and Development.
  • Developing understanding of research methodologies.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

The early years of the Biomedical Sciences honours programmes provide a broad based knowledge of the full range of Biomedical subjects, establishing a solid foundation for specialisation and deeper enquiry in the junior and senior honours year. The Anatomy and Development programme provides two third year courses, ‘Anatomy and Development 3’, which provides students a large amount of anatomical knowledge and understanding, coupled with insight into the biology of developmental processes and ‘Mechanisms of Brain Development 3’, which provides a detailed introduction to the embryonic and postnatal development of the nervous system. Together, these two courses will provide a solid foundation for senior honours. In senior honours, students take a core course in Anatomy and Development, which cover a range of current topics in the disciplines of Anatomy & Developmental Biology and emphasises the multidisciplinary nature of research in these fields. Topics to be covered include detailed Anatomy of one or more human tissues, research highlights in Anatomy & Development and ethical aspects of research involving human tissue. Students will also choose two Biomedical elective options, broadening their knowledge and understanding of specific topics. The importance of self-directed learning is emphasised throughout the programme.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

The Anatomy and Development programme has at its core the importance of scientific research to the advancement of knowledge. Students will engage in developing research skills throughout the final year, culminating in the completion of an 12-week research project. Key skills to be reinforced in the final year Core course include the interpretation and analysis of scientific papers and the data in them and how to analyse and present data effectively in written and oral presentations. Students will design and present a plan for a research study, structured in the same way as a grant application.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

Students are encouraged to develop skills in critical thinking that lie at the core of personal and intellectual autonomy. The Anatomy and Development programme allows students to build on their existing knowledge and use it to plan their future study opportunities and ultimately focus towards career pathways for professional development. Students are instructed in the skills that allow the work of others to be accurately and concisely summarised and abstracted. Independent thinking and the ability to draw together novel but relevant information from a wide range of sources and synthesise coherent conclusions is encouraged through a variety of formats. Intellectual and scientific curiosity is fostered through interactions with research active academic staff. Students are encouraged to use initiative, to solve problems for themselves and to overcome setbacks. They are offered opportunities for feedback on their work but it is up to the student to use and act on the advice and comments. Students are encouraged to reflect on their own learning and development of skills.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

The ability to communicate freely and understandably with a range of audiences is an important transferable skill. The degree programme allows development in different forms of communication at all stages and academic levels of the programme. Students are already well versed in the creation of coherent written, electronic and oral communications based on independently accumulated information. The acquisition of these skills is spread over a range of different courses and is, therefore, not discipline-specific making them widely transferable. Students are provided with opportunities to develop discursive/argument based skills by using previous knowledge and applying it to unfamiliar scenarios in tutor and peer-led discussions. Collaborative skills are also encouraged in group work contexts. Time management on an individual and a collaborative scale is dictated by balancing workloads across courses in relation to submission deadlines. Students are expected to communicate and cooperate effectively with their project supervisor, members of the laboratory and with their peers in group work tasks.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Personal development will be enhanced through interactions with other students, staff and the academic advisers. By engaging with the programme of work within the degree programme, students adapt to organising their own learning and managing their workload to fit a defined academic timetable. From an early stage, the concurrent demands of different components of the programme encourage the development of effective planning. Personal confidence and its development are fostered through the presentation of academic and research studies and the formative feedback provided on these activities. Self-confidence is also engendered through interactions with academic advisers (Personal Tutor, Course Organisers and Honours Programme organiser) that might review academic progress. The ability to work in large or small groups and the collaborative skills required when working with unfamiliar colleagues is a feature of group work in some of the larger courses in earlier years. Ultimately the ability to work independently and sustainably is a core skill that all students aspire to achieve and is engendered in the learning environment generated within the School and University.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

Students acquire a range of technical skills during practical classes in the first three years of the programme. They also have the opportunity to develop and apply a set of specific practical skills in a real research situation during a lab-based project in Semester 2 of the final year.

Programme structure and features

Entry requirements


Year 1

(a) Year 1 has the following compulsory courses:


Course name




Biomedical Sciences 1




Molecules Genes & Cells 1




Medical Biology 1




Biological Chemistry 1A




Biological Chemistry 1B



**Exceptionally, in discussion with your Personal Tutor, Biological Chemistry 1A OR Biological Chemistry 1B may be replaced by any other courses from Schedules A-Q/T and W.


Select exactly 20 credits from Level 7 and 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, as available

Year 2

(b) Year 2 has the following compulsory courses:


Course name




Biomedical Sciences 2

Full year



Cells to Organisms 2




Microorganisms, Infection and Immunity



Optional courses in Year 2:

1. Select exactly 20 credits from Level 7 and 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, during Semester 1

2. Select exactly 20 credits from Level 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, during Semester 2

The Dynamic Cell 2 (BILG08009) is recommended for this programme.
Genes and Gene Action 2 (BILG08003) is STRONGLY recommended for this programme

Year 3

Year 4

Compulsory courses:

Anatomy and Development Core 20 credits
Anatomy and Development Project 40 credits
Anatomy and Development Synoptic Examination 10 credits
Anatomy and Development Grant Proposal 10 credits

Optional courses:

Students choose a total of two elective courses (further information on elective requirements including recommendations and restrictions will be detailed in the Senior Honours Guide handbook).

Progression Requirements

To graduate with an Honours degree in Anatomy and Development, students must obtain a minimum of 80 CP at SCQF level 10 or 11 in the final year, have an aggregate mark of more than 40% over 120 CP worth of courses at SCQF level 10 or 11 in the final year and at the first assessment sitting and meet all progression requirements in previous years.

Learning outcomes and assessment practices

As specified at individual course level.

Modes of Study

Full time, full year only.

Exit awards available at the completion of specific stages of the programme

Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education: students who obtain a minimum of 120 CP from passes in courses at the University of Edinburgh.
Undergraduate Diploma of Higher Education: students who obtain a minimum of 240 CP, where at least 120 CP are from passes in courses at the University of Edinburgh, and at least 80 CP are from courses at level 8 or above.
BSc Ordinary in Biomedical Sciences: Students must have obtained 360 CP, according to the requirements of the Anatomy and Development degree programme table. Up to 40 CP at SCQF level 9 can be awarded by aggregation.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Years 1-3:
In Year 1
Practical Classes
Facilitated Group Discussion
Group Projects
Problem based learning
One to one and group meetings with Personal Tutor

In Year 2
Practical Classes
Problem based learning
One to one and group meetings with Personal Tutor

In Year 3
Practical Classes
Problem based learning
One to one and group meetings with Personal Tutor

In Year 4
Student presentations – oral and / or poster
Research paper analysis
Original research project supervised by a member of staff

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 1

Assessment methods and strategies

Students will be assessed by a combination of in course assessments and examinations, as appropriate. During the 4th (senior honours) year, students will receive specific formative feedback tied to each element of assessment.

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 1

Career opportunities

Graduates of this programme may embark on research careers, either in an academic or a commercial environment. The combination of practical, hands-on study of human anatomy with detailed study of developmental mechanisms offered by this programme will provide graduates with a set of skills and knowledge attractive to a wide range of employers. Graduates with a combination of anatomical knowledge and scientific research skills are scarce and should therefore have a strong advantage in finding employment. The emphasis placed on developing transferrable skills, including problem solving and communication skills, will also help students beyond graduation.

Other items

Students may take part in the University’s Study Abroad scheme in year 3 of the programme.

Each student is assigned a Personal Tutor who provides both academic and pastoral guidance. Throughout a student’s time at the university the Personal Tutor guides the student in choice of courses and provides general pastoral support.

The programme is administered and run through the Biomedical Teaching Organisation.

Detailed course guides are provided for new students and for continuing students. These guides provide details of courses and also advise students on assessment and general university policy and regulations.

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