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Course structure


Lectures are given in the Department of Plant Sciences on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11am.


Laboratory and field-based research are both essential for our further understanding of the function of plants and micro-organisms.  We have developed practicals with student input.  The practicals provide a thoroughly integrated understanding, quite different from Part IA courses by: Providing experience of the major techniques used in plant and microbial science research; Developing skills in the design, interpretation and writing up of experiments; Addressing theoretical problems through experimentation; Increasing awareness of the social and industrial implications of plant and microbial science research; Developing ability to present and communicate scientific issues.

Practical classes are in the Department of Plant Sciences on Mondays or Tuesdays from 12 noon to 5 pm (with a break for lunch).  You must hand in and receive a pass mark for 6 practical write-ups during the course of the year.


Assessment of the course is divided into theory and practical elements representing 65% and 35% of the total mark respectively.  Students take two three-hour written papers, one of which contains short answer questions on lectures and practicals plus a data handling question, while the other comprises essays on the lectures. Write-ups for ten of the practicals are assessed and the six highest marks used for 10% of the overall mark.

Developing key skills

The Plant Sciences Department is committed to helping their students develop the transferable skills that will be beneficial both in Part II and as a research scientist or in many other careers. Dedicated skills sessions are delivered in lecture and practical sessions and include:

  • “How to get the most out of a scientific paper”
  • Data analysis and modelling using R
  • Designing and delivering presentations
  • Writing laboratory reports
  • Keeping a useful laboratory notebook




The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.