BIOCHEM 4020B - Honours Molecular and Cellular Biology Project Pt 2

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2018

This course includes the performance of an individual research project under the supervision of one or more members of the Molecular & Cellular Biology staff or its affiliates. Early in the year students will report on the aim, significance and approach of their research topic. At the end of the year candidates will submit the results of their research in the form of a thesis, which will also contain a literature review surrounding their research topic. The research project is selected at the start of the Honours year following consultation with the Honours Coordinator and depends on availability of research supervisors in any particular year.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code BIOCHEM 4020B
    Course Honours Molecular and Cellular Biology Project Pt 2
    Coordinating Unit School of Biological Sciences
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 18
    Contact By supervision
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Corequisites BIOCHEM 4010/A/B
    Incompatible BIOCHEM 4000A/B
    Restrictions Available only to students admitted to the relevant Honours program
    Assessment Written thesis, oral defence, supervisor assessment
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Murray Whitelaw

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Design, conduct, analyse and interpret results of a series of experiments
    2 Critically analyse and evaluate quantitative & qualitative scientific information.
    3 Obtain and evaluate scientific information from a variety of sources.
    4 Communicate effectively in a variety of forms, including written and oral presentations.
    5 Extend knowledge and understanding of a variety of scientific concepts
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The work includes participation in research seminars, and importantly, the performance of a research project under the supervision of one or more members of the Biochemistry staff or affiliates. The research project will allow the students to design, conduct, analyse and interpret results of a series of experiments, and effectively communicate these in written and oral reports.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a course such as this, should expect to spend, on average 37.5 hours per week on the research project.
    Learning Activities Summary

    The major component of the Biochemistry Honours year is the Research Project.

    1.  Aim, Significance and Approach - The 'ASA' document
    The supervisor will provide the overall approach and aim of the project and suggest the first experiments to commence the research. In March, students will submit a written statement of the aim of the research project, its significance to the group's research (if appropriate) and to the field in general, and finally the approach to be followed. Electronic submission of the proposal (PDF or Word format) to the Honours coordinator is required.

    The supervisor will be available to help in the drafting of the ASA.

    2. Research
    Each Honours student is under the supervision of a member of staff on an assigned independent research topic. They are required to contribute to the experimental design, execution and analysis of outcomes for all experimental procedures. The students are also expected to identify, interpret, critically analyse and integrate relevant material from published scientific literature.   Students are asked to present a formal twenty minute Research Updateduring July/August to the Biochemistry Discipline. This will not be assessed but will provide formative feedback.

    3. Thesis

    Results of the research project are to be submitted in a thesis.  The thesis will include an introduction that will contain the background to, and the significance of, the research question. The results section(s) should contain data and its interpretation. The final chapter thesis should contain a summary. Students are required to submit the electronic version of their thesis in approximately week 12 of semester 2,with the bound copies to be distributed to the thesis examiners the following week.

    Students are also asked to present their thesis orally approximately one week after thesis submissionThis examination will start with a short presentation (20-30 min) which is open to anyone in the School wishing to attend. The rest of the time (up to 30 minutes) involves a session open only to the Biochemistry academic staff and invited post-doctoral/research fellows, where questions from the three thesis examiners and other senior staff will be addressed.

    Specific Course Requirements
    Students must have satisfactorily completed the required occupational health and safety training.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Type of assessment Percentage of total assessment for grading purposes Hurdle (Yes/No) Learning Outcome
    ASA Formative


    No 1-5
    Research Update Formative 0% No 1-5

    Overall mark for Thesis & Thesis Defence

    Written thesis (60% of final thesis mark)

    Oral defence and Q&A(40% of final thesis mark)
    Formative & Summative 80% No 1-5
    Supervisors mark Formative & Summative 20% No 1-5
    Assessment Detail



    The overall thesis assessment (written, oral and Q&A) will be worth 80% and the supervisor’s mark 20%.

    The written thesis will be assessed by a panel of three assessors, comprised of academic staff and senior researchers. The student’s supervisor is excluded from the role of thesis examiner. The marks of the three assessors will be averaged to give the final mark.


    Written thesis assessment will be based on the following:

    1. Demonstrated knowledge of the experimental literature that forms the foundation of the thesis project; formation of a coherent and logical hypothesis that drives the thesis work.
    2.  Detailed documentation of the materials and methods for the thesis experiments.
    3. Comprehensive and logical arrangement of experimental results; figures and diagrams should support the written explanation of the experimental results. All major experimental findings should be documented with the appropriate experimental evidence. Appropriate statistical tests should be used to analyse the data.
    4. The discussion should examine the experimental results in the broader context of the available scientific literature; scientific conclusions should be supported by clear and logical argument.

    Assessment for the oral presentation and Q&A

    The oral presentation and Q&A are assessed by the three thesis readers and by all other available academic staff. The marks of all assessors will be averaged to give the final mark.

    Oral presentation:

    1. Demonstration of understanding of the background to the thesis work and the experimental details of the current work
    2. Demonstrate understanding of the significance of the work.
    3. Success at condensing the year’s experimental details into a summary of the important aspects of the thesis work
    4. Presentation scholarship: appropriate referencing and attribution of data and concepts to the correct sources

    Question/answer period (30 minutes):

    1. Demonstration of understanding, analysis and evaluation of scientific concepts and scientific relevance
    2. Demonstration of understanding, analysis and evaluation of primary experimental details

    Supervisor’s mark (20%)

    Supervisors are excluded from acting as thesis examiners for their own students. Hence the supervisors mark provides the opportunity for assessment, by the supervisor, of the performance in the Honours research project, and includes an assessment of the quality of the experimental work, intellectual engagement with the project, making suggestions for alternative approaches/experiments, initiative in problem solving/troubleshooting, and maintenance of quality laboratory records.

    The supervisor’s mark must be submitted to the Honours coordinator prior to the commencement of the final thesis presentations.


    Late submission of the electronic version of the thesis will incur a penalty in the form of a reduction in mark, as follows:

    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply.  A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M11 (Honours Mark Scheme)
    GradeGrade reflects following criteria for allocation of gradeReported on Official Transcript
    Fail A mark between 1-49 F
    Third Class A mark between 50-59 3
    Second Class Div B A mark between 60-69 2B
    Second Class Div A A mark between 70-79 2A
    First Class A mark between 80-100 1
    Result Pending An interim result RP
    Continuing Continuing CN

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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