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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 University has moved into its "red" phase in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. All University staff, except those needed for business-critical activity, are now working remotely. Please contact us by email until further notice.