Human Biology & Physiology BSc/MSci

Contemporary Issues in Biology 2 BIOL2040

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Infection and Immunity
  • Credits: 30
  • Level: Level 2 (SCQF level 8)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will examine a range of key contemporary problems at the interfaces between biology and the environment, health and society. The course will help students consolidate and develop skills including data analysis and presentation, making ethical judgements, interpretation of data and statistics. This will be topic led and cover issues such as Measurement of Self, One Health, Forensics and Excess Mortality. Skills developed in this course will be applicable to all areas of study in Life Sciences.


Normally, five lectures per week at 12noon or 4pm (Monday to Friday) plus one 3-hour lab per week for 8 weeks at 10am or 2pm (Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday). In addition, non-timetabled directed-learning tasks also have to be completed.

Excluded Courses



The course will be assessed by means of a 2-hour examination paper in the December diet (60%), one class test (10%), a group poster (15%) and a lab report (15%). The written examination will normally comprise MCQ and short-answer questions and may include data analysis and interpretation.

Main Assessment In: December

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 


Re-assessment is not available for the group poster. 

Course Aims

The aims of the course are:

■ To provide an overview of the connections and interactions between biological systems and the environment, and between biological systems and society; 

■ To develop appropriate skills in data interpretation and analysis;

■ To develop skills in hypothesis testing and experimental design;

■ To develop key transferable skills and graduate attributes;

■ To develop an understanding of ethical considerations in Biology.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

■ Describe how key biological processes relate to contemporary societal and environmental problems; 

■ Describe how key biological processes can be used to resolve contemporary societal and environmental problems;

■ Interpret information from relevant literature;

■ Apply appropriate numerical and quantitative analyses to a variety of biological problems;

■ Communicate scientific ideas and present data effectively;

■ Identify ethical issues and apply ethical judgements to contemporary biological problems.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.