This double module gives you the background skills in science necessary for the rest of the course. These include sufficient laboratory skills to perform experiments safely and successfully; the necessary mathematical and statistical skills for quantitative analysis of data. It also introduces the broad body of knowledge of chemical, biological and physical sciences necessary for the study of the biological and environmental sciences.
Variety of Life
Life on earth is amazingly diverse, colourful and multifaceted. The Variety of Life module introduces you to this diversity, tracing the tree of life from its roots to its branches. Beginning with simple, single-celled organisms like bacteria and Protists, you discover the various forms of complex life that have evolved and how to classify them in a taxonomic system using characteristic features of each group. The module features a large number of practical sessions in which you engage with plants, animals and other organisms.
Introduction to Environmental Systems
You will investigate animals and plants living in selected habitats and review factors which control populations and methods of determining distribution and abundance. It will also introduce you to the concept of energy in physical and biological systems. In this way the theme of energy will be seen as unifying all the various aspects of the relationships between organisms and their environments.
Microbiology and Cell Culture
This will introduce you to principal taxonomic groups of micro-organisms; examines their growth, physiology and culture, and their importance to humans and the biosphere. The module equips you with the necessary skills to carry out safe, aseptic practices with such organisms in a laboratory environment. It is an intensive module in which you spend an entire week in the laboratory. Currently the lab week takes place in the Easter vacation.
Plant Control Systems
This module investigates the physiology of a range of plant groups, integrating biology with the underlying physics. By studying communication and homeostatic processes as unifying themes, you will develop a holistic approach to the investigation of biological control systems and the means by which they respond to the environment.
Communication and Analysis in Science and/or Marketing Research
Communication and Analysis in Science: Scientists must be able to effectively analyse, present and communicate scientific data, whether it originated from their own research or whether they are engaging with literature produced by other researchers. In addition, successful research depends on the careful and considerate planning and design of experiments and studies in the laboratory and field. This module helps you to develop your critical thinking skills as scientists, introduces you to various mathematical and statistical methods for analysing and presenting scientific data and explores important concepts relating to experimental design, measurement and sampling.
The module will explore the nature, scope and recent development of marketing research and its context in the marketing decision process. A range of both primary and secondary data sources as well as quantitative and qualitative research techniques will be explored, evaluated and contextualised. For example, government and commercial sources of data and the use and design of questionnaires, focus groups and in-depth interviews will be used to demonstrate various aspects of the research process. In line with current practice the use of current information technology software will be introduced in order to facilitate data analysis and presentation.
The Molecular Biology module offers you a unique practical experience of diverse laboratory skills associated with the isolation, handling and manipulation of DNA and proteins. During two weeks of intensive practical sessions, lectures and tutorials, this module will cover the main areas of theoretical molecular biology knowledge and its practical applications in current research. The module currently takes place during the summer vacation.
Chemistry for the Life Sciences
This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the fundamental concepts and practical applications of chemistry in a biological context. It aims to introduce you to the study of organic compounds and the links between molecular structure and properties, establishing connections with the behaviour of these compounds in biological systems. The module also aims to introduce some of the different methods that can be used in the identification of chemical compounds, and to encourage a critical approach to these methods.
Applied Plant Genetics
This module will cover some exciting topics explaining genetic/epigenetic mechanisms by which plants grow, make flowers, know when to flower and can turn different genes on and off to achieve these goals. We will also look at strategies to map and clone desirable genes. In this module, you will also do various experiments (9-5 for 5 days) and will explore how different genes are expressed under different temperature regimes. You will also clone these genes and use DNA markers to look into mapping populations.
Likely optional modules
Chemistry for the Environmental Sciences
Chemical processes shape the world we live in; the soil we use to produce food, the air we breathe and the water we drink. This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the fundamental concepts and practical applications of chemistry in an environmental context. You will be introduced to the chemistry of soil, water and the atmosphere and you also will learn how these three environments interact. The impact of human activity on the chemistry of the environment will be discussed in topics like the ozone layer, greenhouse gases, freshwater quality and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). This module has weekly lectures, supported by practical lab sessions, workshops and two local field trips.
Underpinning all of the biosciences, evolution is central to understanding the diversity of life and the behaviour of biological systems. By studying the processes and drivers that result in evolutionary change, you will consider the nature of evolution, developing an understanding of both macro- and micro-scale evolutionary change.
Introduction to Mapping and GIS
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have been utilised for over quarter of a century, however, there is still a rapid growth in the applications of GIS to a wide range of business, public and academic fields. This module provides the practical and theoretical aspects of GIS and the fundamentals of cartographic design required to produce meaningful GIS results. To appreciate the potential and scope of GIS, an exploration of the core aspects (principles) of the subject is made, concluding with a variety of relevant case studies. Given the desirability of acquiring a large degree of practical software skills, in a number of complex and varied programmes, a substantial aim of the module is to provide ‘hands-on’ use of GIS, using industry standard hardware and software.
Pests, Parasites and Pathogens
This module aims to teach you about pests, parasites and pathogens which affect animals and plants, and how they affect the wider world. The course begins with introduction to the taxonomy and biology of these organisms, the economic impacts they have on societies around the world, and the ways in which plants and animals have evolved to fight infection and infestation. We then discuss and critique the mechanisms by which humans have attempted to control pests, parasites and pathogens such as the use of antibiotics, pesticides, vaccination and biological control.
Plant Responses to the Environment
In this module we study how plants (despite being immobile) encounter various environmental threats (drought, high temperature, disease) and employ sophisticated genetic and biochemical mechanisms to thrive under stressful conditions. We need to grow 70% more food in the next forty years from ever shrinking amounts of land and with less fresh water. Understanding plant survival mechanisms, especially for crop plants, is therefore vital for our food security in the coming decades. This module covers topics explaining plants/crop interaction with their environment to maximise productivity and is complemented with latest developments published on student-led seminars of case studies you will gain an in-depth understanding of the biological, ecological and biochemical problems associated with a selection of the more important diseases.
Likely optional modules
Introduction to Bioinformatics
This module examines all aspects of the gathering of biological sequence data, and introduces the application and approaches to their analysis. Particular reference is made to the manipulation and analysis of DNA sequence data and three dimensional protein structural data. Topics include: molecular biology, genomics, phylogenetics, proteomics, metabolomics and online databases. A major focus is on practical use of bioinformatics tools and techniques and on understanding how bioinformatics can be used to address real research questions. The module aims to develop a systematic understanding of the role of computing in biological research, the fundamentals of molecular biology and to introduce the key concepts and techniques in bioinformatics.
The module aims to extend the techniques and analyses introduced in the co-requisite module Introduction to Bioinformatics, focussing on building the computational skills to allow you to undertake complex analyses. The module develops an understanding of how to analyse and investigate bioinformatic questions using various development tools and how to make results available via differing visualisations. Central to this is building an understanding and ability to use various industry standard open source tools and to work in Linux. The module therefore develops an integrated understanding of various bioinformatic development and analysis tools and of how to build these into analysis pipelines.
You will spend 8 days in the mountains and coastlines of Snowdonia, North Wales. During this intensive course you will go from being a novice at quantifying habitats and asking ecological questions of the environment to an expert at turning the natural world into a form that can be quantified and objectively measured. Due to its intense nature, this module is one of the most mentally challenging of all the science modules you will take at Christ Church, but according to our student feedback, also one of the most enjoyable, both from an academic and general life skills point of view. There is a limit on the number of students who can take this module. This module is currently taken during the summer vacation.
Biological Imaging and Photography
This module will enable you to use a range modern photographic and other image capture and processing techniques as tools for studying of biological organisms. With a focus on using these techniques to extract biological information, and on developing an awareness of the limitations of the different approaches, you will learn to critically evaluate imaging approaches in a contextual setting
Ecology and Conservation
In order to conserve we must first identify underlying ecological issues that make conservation necessary. In the first two thirds of this course you will explore the underpinning ecological concepts that help us to effectively plan and carry out conservation work. In the final third of the course, which is partly student led, you will apply these concepts to modern conservation themed issues.
Marketing: Culture and Communication
This module develops your understanding in relation to the importance of an appreciation of how the cultural context(s) for global marketing activities can be regarded as similar, or dissimilar to their home-country situation. Emphasis is given to language (spoken and ‘silent’) as a barrier to effective communication across the full range of marketing activities, but with particular emphasis on its value in relation to both personal and non-personal marketing communications activities such as face-to-face personal selling, and advertising and packaging, respectively.