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Practical skills for biology research-II, 7.5 Credits

Swedish name: Färdighetsträning för biologisk forskning-II

This syllabus is valid: 2020-11-16 and until further notice

Course code: 5BI250

Credit points: 7.5

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Molecular Biology: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: TH teknisk betygsskala

Responsible department: Department of Plant Physiology

Established by: Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 2021-03-13


The course follows on from Practical skills for biology research-I (5BI249). The course provides introductory training in appropriate methods for storing, quality control, visualisation, statistical analysis and hypothesis testing within biological research. The course is specifically designed to develop individual practical and learning skills. The course introduces the use of R for data analysis and relies extensively on practical hands-on training and while encouraging peer-based student-led learning. In the course students will use data generated during 5BI249 for practical assessment of data quality, reproducibility and biological variance but prior participation in 5BI249 is not a prerequisite.

Expected learning outcomes

After completing the course, students should be able to
  1. Understand how to appropriately enter and store primary and meta data from a range of experiment types including field, greenhouse and molecular biology assay scale datasets. 
  2. Produce new and utilise existing R scripts and use help resources to apply R functions.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of how to perform and visualise quality control checks of a range of data types including data structure, technical reproducibility and biological variance. 
  4. Produce appropriate figures that demonstrate understanding of the difficulties, and solutions for, visualisation of large-scale data.
  5. Be able to apply statistical tests to test hypotheses.
  6. Justify the selection of analysis and visualisation methods.

Required Knowledge

90 ECTS credits, of which at least 15 ECTS credits are in the main area of chemistry and 60 ECTS credits in the main area of biology where at least 30 ECTS credits should be in plant biology and cell- and molecular biology. Swedish for basic eligibility for higher education programmes and English B/6. Requirements for Swedish only apply if the course is held in Swedish

Form of instruction

The course comprises lectures, pre-recorded teaching videos, guided tutorials and student led learning in both independent and group contexts. An important component of the course is student interaction to discuss problems and share solutions.

Examination modes

The course is examined by assessment of two take-home practical assignments that will test the ability to demonstrate technical skills and understanding of the ELOs. The first assignment will assess ELOs 1-3 and the second assignment ELOs 4-6. 
A short-answer knowledge test performed online at the end of the course to assess factual knowledge covering all ELOs of the course content. 
Each assignment is evaluated with the grades, U (fail), G (pass) or VG (Pass with distinction).
Grades: For engineering students; the following course grades are given: U (Fail), 3 = (Pass), 4 (Pass with merit), and 5 (Pass with distinction).
For course grade 3, a grade G is required for all three assessments
For course grade 4, a grade G is required for two and a grade VG for one of the assessments
For course grade 5, at least two assessments should have been graded VG and for the third one at least a G grade is required. 
For other students the following course grades are given U (Fail), G (Pass) or VG (Pass with distinction)
For course grade G, a grade G is required for all three assessments
For course grade VG, at least two assessments should have been graded VG and for the third one at least a G grade is required.
Students who have passed an assessed component may not retake that component to obtain a higher grade. Students who do not pass the regular examination arranged can take a re-examination in accordance with the Umeå University Regulations for tests and examinations at the undergraduate and graduate level. The first re-examination will be offered no later than two months after the first examination, except where an ordinary examination takes place in May or June, in which case a first re-examination will be offered within three months after the first examination. In addition, at least one additional re-examination will be offered within one year of regular examination.
The course plan and examination may be modified for students that require pedagogic support due to disabilities. Changes will confine to expected learning outcome and after the students request, appropriate changes should be concluded between course responsible and teacher whereafter the student should be informed.
A student who has taken two examinations in a course, or part of a course, has the right to have another examiner appointed unless there are specific reasons against it (6 ch. 22, § HF). Requests for new-examiners should be addressed to the head of the Department of Plant Physiology.

Other regulations

Relevant literature is provided during the course.
In the event that the curriculum expires or major changes are made, a student is assured at least three examination opportunities (including the regular examination) based on the syllabus at taken by the student over a period of a maximum of two years from the date of the syllabus change.


The literature list is not available through the web. Please contact the faculty.