level1 course guide aug11 updated 20 09 2011 by 5Bm5eqr


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  General Course Guide for Level 1 School of Biological Sciences Courses

Each of our courses has its own specific guide. This more general guide includes the things that you
need to know that apply to all of your biology courses in 1st year. It is vital that you familiarise
yourself with this material!

This web-site contains information on the following topics:
   1.   School of Biological Sciences Introduction
   2.   What we expect from our 1st Year students
   3.   Partnership Agreement
   4.   A list of useful contacts, with their email and phone numbers and advice on how we will
        communicate with you.
   5.   Term dates, including teaching sessions, exam dates and course codes.
   6.   Advice on reaching your Student Portal and what it offers you.
   7.   How we monitor your attendance and progress, and how you can report and explain absences.
   8.   Support available to students
   9.   Learning difficulties and how we help you cope with them.
   10. Getting the best from your Adviser of Studies and other staff.
   11. The address of our standard 'cover sheet' for submitted work.
   12. The ways that we assess your work and report this back to you.
   13. The Policy of the School of Biological Sciences on providing feedback on student’s work.
   14. CAS (Common Assessment Scale) descriptors.
   15. 'Demonstrators' and their role in helping you in practicals.
   16. Safety in the laboratory and our system for grading risks in practicals.
   17. Field courses and their place in our teaching.
   18. Getting your comments heard! Our Class Representative and Staff/Student Liaison Meeting
        system; Course Evaluation and SCEF forms.
   19. Advice on how to do well in your courses.
   20. The University's Code of Teaching Practice and the University Quality Assurance Handbook.
   21. Copyright laws and photocopying.
   22. Plagiarism; what it is and how to avoid it.
   23. Disciplinary matters and penalties that might apply.
   24. What to do if you fail!
   25. Appeals and complaints; how to use our procedures correctly.
   26. Personal Development Planning.
   27. Aberdeen Graduate Attributes
   28. The Co-curriculum
                           College of Life Sciences and Medicine
                            SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
                              SCHOOL OF MEDICAL SCIENCES

                                      1ST YEAR COURSE GUIDE

Welcome to courses offered by the School of Biological Sciences (SBS) and the School of Medical Sciences (SMS)
(within the College of Life Sciences and Medicine CLSM) for your first year of study here at University of
Aberdeen. We are delighted that you have chosen to study biology here and hope that you will find our courses
both interesting and challenging. We have planned them so that they offer a comprehensive and exciting
introduction to the world of living organisms but they are also designed to train you in many of the skills you will
need to help you through your career.

We will do our best to inspire you and to help you to achieve your full potential and we look forward to getting
to know you and to responding to your comments and needs. Have a really good year!

Prof. Liz Baggs, Head of SBS. (e.baggs@abdn.ac.uk)

Dr John Baird, Convenor of Biology courses. (john.baird@abdn.ac.uk)

Dr Jim McDonald, Director of Teaching for SBS. (jim.mcdonald@abdn.ac.uk)

Dr Stephen Davies Director of Teaching for CLSM. (s.n.davies@abdn.ac.uk)

                                           Other useful contacts:

Samantha Hall, Administrative support for teaching. (sam.hall@abdn.ac.uk)

Bill Edwards, Teaching Support Services. (w.edwards@abdn.ac.uk)

This general course guide refers to the following courses:

BI1005 (Organismal Biology); BI1006 (Tutorials for Biology); BI1509 (Ecology & Environmental Science); BI1510
(Sustainable Land Management); BI19P3 (Plant Ecology & Taxonomy Field Course); SX1003 (Oceans and
Society) and SX1504 (Natural World)

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                      2. What we expect from our 1st Year students
Our 1st Year students have very varied qualifications and background and so we have designed our courses
to give you all the factual material needed to progress in your studies in biology, as well as introducing
many of the skills that you will need as a student and beyond. To allow everyone to make good progress in
1st Year, we have tried to make the courses largely self-sufficient.

We expect you to attend ALL the lectures. These will usually use Powerpoint slides, which you can print off
beforehand from the course websites, to use as basic notes. We recommend that you listen to the
lecturers and annotate each slide with explanations and additional material, as the lecturers will be trying
to add value to the slides by explaining their significance and meaning, rather than just repeating factual
material. We recommend that at the end of each day you review your lecture notes. It will help your
understanding and memory of these if you re-organise and annotate the notes, rather than just quickly re-
reading them. Make a note of any topic that still puzzles you, or needs following up.

We also expect you to attend ALL the practicals and to complete the assignments as carefully and fully as
you can. These are marked and contribute to your progress in the course. You can expect a timely return
of the assignments with plenty of constructive comments and a mark on them. You are then free to ask the
demonstrator who marked them, or the course lecturers, about the comments and your mark. You should
never be in doubt about your progress and we hope that the ‘formative’ class tests will help you with this as

We are enthusiastic about biology and hope that you are also interested and will get involved with your
studies. Please do come and discuss any points of interest with us.

As you accumulate a better understanding about which topics need to be explored further, we recommend
that you regularly visit the library. There you will find text-books to help you but, as scientists, we use the
original scientific papers which are published in journals and we urge you to begin to consult these as soon
as you can. In these papers you will find the data and explanation from the original worker, rather than
someone else’s interpretation, as in a textbook. In later years you will rely fully on original papers.

Assuming that you do all this, and follow a revision plan that allows you plenty of time to review the class
material, you should find the exams to be straightforward. If you do need any help on the approach to
exams, please also email your lecturers to get advice. We want to help all of you to do well enough to pass.

Finally, we value your comments, so please do pass these on to the staff, or via the course ‘bulletin board’,
or to your class representatives. Why not volunteer to be a class representative yourself and become
involved in the improvement that we constantly try to make to your studies.

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                                 3. Partnership Agreement
The University of Aberdeen wants you to have the best possible student experience during your time
with us, and to make the most of the opportunities available to you. To this end staff and students
should work in partnership to enhance the University community and to create an atmosphere of
mutual courtesy and respect.

University staff undertake to:

1. Support and guide you as you join the University of Aberdeen community.

2. Provide you with excellent teaching, by expecting and encouraging our teaching staff to take
   advantage of opportunities to further their own skill through training and professional
   development, and to keep up-to-date with innovations in teaching practice.

3. Provide courses and programmes which are intellectually stimulating and give you opportunities to
   develop Graduate Attributes, to give you the best chance of getting a job when you graduate.

4. Design assessments which support your learning and give you the opportunity to demonstrate your
   knowledge and skills; and provide continual feedback which will guide your future learning.

5. Help get your career off to the best start by providing opportunities – either as part of your courses
   or as optional activities – which help you develop personal and professional skills to make you
   attractive to future employers.

6. Help you to access a wide range of student support and information services with friendly and
   supportive staff. (www.abdn.ac.uk/student-support/ see also www.abdn.ac.uk/newstudents/)

7. Promote a sense of community by providing a welcoming, stimulating and safe learning and social

8. Ensure that you are treated fairly and have the opportunity to reach your full potential, as guided by
   our Single Equity and Diversity Scheme. (www.abdn.ac.uk/ppg/index.php?id=159&top=67)

In return, you are expected to:

Be committed to learning and to taking responsibility for your studies by contributing fully to all
classes and undertaking the required independent study.

Help our efforts to improve the learning experience for students by giving your teaching staff formal
and informal feedback, including through using the student class representative system.

Add to your experience by taking advantage of the wide range of facilities and activities available to
help develop your interests, including Students’ Association societies and clubs, and other co-
curricular activities. (www.ausa.org.uk/ and www.abdn.ac.uk/careers/)
Make sure you know how the regulations regarding cheating, and use the accepted methods of
referencing your work so that plagiarism can be avoided. (www.abdn.ac.uk/sls/plagiarism/)

Familiarise yourself with the student support services, and seek advice and guidance, as appropriate,
on academic and non-academic issues, from course co-ordinators, advisers of study and central
student support services. (www.abdn.ac.uk/newstudents/university-life/student-support)

Consider the advantages of discussing, in confidence, with the Student Support officer any
requirements you have related to disability. (www.abdn.ac.uk/student-support/ and

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4. A list of useful contacts, with their email and phone numbers and advice
                     on how we will communicate with you

                                     Useful Contacts
Name             Position          Phone No.   Room           Email
Professor Liz   Head of School     272691      Room 110       e.baggs@abdn.ac.uk
Baggs                                          Cruickshank
Dr Jim McDonald Director of        272694      Room G34       jim.mcdonald@abdn.ac.uk
                Teaching                       Zoology
Dr John Baird   Convenor of        272882      Room 206       john.baird@abdn.ac.uk
                Biology Courses                Zoology
Bill Edwards    Teaching           272846      B27 Zoology    w.edwards@abdn.ac.uk
                Support Services
Wendy           PA to Head of      272857      Room G37       w.jay.henderson@abdn.ac.uk
Henderson       School                         Zoology
Kimberley Coull Undergraduate      272678      Room G32       k.coull@abdn.ac.uk
                Secretary-                     Zoology
                Biology Courses
Sam Hall        Undergraduate      272859      Room G32       sam.hall@abdn.ac.uk
                Secretary –                    Zoology
                Zoology Courses
Deborah Stone   Undergraduate      272257      Cruickshank    d.stone@abdn.ac.uk
                Secretary- Plant               Reception
                & Soil Science
Marie Duncan    Secretary          272861      Room G32       marie.duncan@abdn.ac.uk
                                    Course Organisers – Level 1
                   Name              Phone No.        Room           Email
BI1005 -           Dr J Baird        272882           Rm 206         john.baird@abdn.ac.uk
Organismal                                            Zoology
Biology            Dr J McDonald     2722694          Rm G34         jim.mcdonald@abdn.ac.uk
BI1006 –           Dr M Barker       274470           Rm 111         m.barker@abdn.ac.uk
Tutorials in                                          Cruickshank
Biology (BUGS)     Dr S Dalrymple    274470           Rm 111         s.e.dalrymple@abdn.ac.uk
                   Dr L McPherson    274460           Rm 212         lindsay.mcpherson@abdn.ac.uk
BI1509 - Ecology   Prof P Smith      272702           Rm G45 St      pete.smith@abdn.ac.uk
and                                                   Machar
Environmental                                         Drive
Science            Mrs C Dennis      274155           Rm 212         c.dennis@abdn.ac.uk
BI1510 –           Dr L Page         274115           Rm 123         l.m.page@abdn.ac.uk
Sustainable Land                                      Cruickshank
BI19P3 – Plant     Dr L Page        274115           Rm 123          l.m.page@abdn.ac.uk
Ecology and                                          Cruickshank
Taxonomy Field     Dr M Barker      274470           Rm 111          m.barker@abdn.ac.uk
Course                                               Cruickshank
SX1003 – Oceans    Prof U Witte     274413           OceanLab 2      u.witte@abdn.ac.uk
and Society
                   Dr L McPherson   274460           Rm 212          lindsay.mcpherson@abdn.ac.uk
SX1504 – Natural   Dr M Barker      274470           Rm 111          m.barker@abdn.ac.uk
World                                                Cruickshank

You may wish to contact staff for help during the year, probably most often to do with your courses but
perhaps also about more general issues. We welcome such contacts and will try and help as best we
can. If you have a question about your course work, it is best to ask the person most directly
concerned. For example, questions about lecture material are best addressed to the lecturer
concerned, whereas questions about your practicals should be addressed to your demonstrator, or the
course technician, or the course organiser. All course-specific manuals should have the contact details
of all these staff but the list above will also help you.

If you want to comment on any aspect of your course work, or make a criticism, please contact first
your Class Representative. This person will be able to take your concerns to the regular Student/Staff
Liaison Group meeting, which is attended by all relevant course organisers and by the Director of
Teaching. The staff who convene these meetings are also listed below in Section 18. If you have a
general question about School business, that is administrative in nature, please contact the Senior
Secretary with responsibility for teaching support, or the Director of Teaching.

Finally, remember that your Adviser of Studies is ready to help at any time on any type of issue. You
should feel free to contact your adviser. We are all happier if you bring us your problems before they
become overwhelming!

The best way to make an initial contact is by email. We are all busy people and are often out of our
offices; however, there is a room directory in each of our buildings and you can try knocking on doors.
The telephone system is such that our six figure outside numbers start with 27, but if you use an
internal phone you need only dial the last four numbers.

In return, when we need to contact you we will always use your email address.

Communication from the University

You will receive a University e-mail account when you register with the University Computing Centre.
The University will normally use e-mail to communicate with you during term-time. These e-mails will
be sent to your University e-mail account.

It is your responsibility to check your e-mail on a regular (at least weekly) basis and to tidy the
contents of your e-mail inbox to ensure that it does not go over quota (see
http://www.abdn.ac.uk/studentmail/faq.shtml#quotaSM for guidance on managing your e-mail
quota). It is recommended that you use your University e-mail account to read and respond to
University communications. If you already have a non-University e-mail account that you use for
personal correspondence, it is possible to set up automatic forwarding of messages from your
University e-mail account to your personal e-mail address (see
http://www.abdn.ac.uk/studentmail/faq.shtml#mailclient) but, should you do so, it is your
responsibility to ensure that this is done correctly. The University takes no responsibility for delivery
of e-mails to non-University accounts.
You should note that failure to check your e-mail or failure to receive e-mail due to being over quota or
due to non-delivery of an e-mail forwarded to a non-University e-mail account would not be accepted
as a ground for appeal (for further information on appeals procedures, please refer to
http://www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/appeals.shtml )

Computing classrooms

Students may use computing classrooms when they are not required for teaching. Staff who wish
students to use a computer classroom outside normal hours can make arrangements for the students
to be given key card access to the computer classrooms in Edward Wright Building.

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                    5. Term Dates for Academic Year 2011-2012
Students for all First Degrees (except MB ChB and BSc Med Sci) and for Taught Postgraduate
Programmes (unless otherwise specified)

 Winter Term Opens                                 Tuesday 20th September 2011
 Winter Term Closes                                Friday 16th December 2011
 Spring Term Opens*                                Monday 9th January 2012
 First Written Examination                         Saturday 14th January 2012
 Half-Session Ends                                 Saturday 28th January 2012
* Note: The spring Term opens on Wednesday 4th January 2012 for students in programme years 3 and
4 of the Degrees of Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science combined with Education.

                                       SECOND HALF-SESSION

 Half Session Commences                              Sunday 29th January 2012
 Spring Term Closes                                  Friday 23rd March 2012
 Summer Term Opens                                   Monday 16th April 2012
 First Written Examination                           Saturday 19th May 2012
 Summer Term Closes*                                 Friday 8th June 2012
* Note: The Summer Term closes on Friday 15th June 2012 for students in programme years 3 and 4 of the
Degree of Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science combined with Education.

Structure of University Year

Courses are taught in one of two half-sessions. There are 12 teaching weeks, a revision week and
examinations in each half-session. The first half-session runs from late September to late January
(Weeks 12 - 29) and the second from early February to early June (Weeks 30 - 48).

Course Codes

Each course is allocated a code of which the first two letters represent the Department or subject group
responsible for teaching the course. The first number represents the level at which the course is
normally taught. The second number indicates the point in the Session when the course starts
according to the following code:

Code digit 0 – Courses begin in week 12 (first teaching week of first half-session)
Code digit 3 – Courses begin in week 18 (seventh teaching week of first half-session)
Code digit 5 - Courses begin in week 30 (first teaching week of second half-session)
Code digit 8 - Courses begin in week 36 (seventh teaching week of second half-session)
Code digit 9 - Vacation course or other special timetable arrangements.

The final two digits specifically identify the course.
Courses at levels 1 & 2 are taught over 12 weeks but those at levels 3 & 4 may be 6 or 12 weeks long.

Students are expected to spend a total of about 120 hours working on each 20 credit-point course.
This includes time for reading and revision, for the preparation of essays and practical reports etc. as
well as the time taken up by lectures, seminars and practical classes (approx. 30 to 50 hours). On
average this requires 10 hours per week for each course taught over 12 weeks and 20 hours per week
for those taught over 6 weeks although the load will vary from week to week.

Most courses will require work to be submitted by specific dates. Depending on the courses chosen,
this may result in a considerable fluctuation in workloads throughout the year. It is students'
responsibility to identify potential problems and clashes of submission dates and to discuss
difficulties in meeting deadlines with course co-ordinators as early in the course as possible.

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     6. Advice on reaching your Student Portal and what it offers you

You will know about the Student Portal system and we want to encourage you to make the best use of
it. All the details that the University holds on you in electronic form is available to you via the portal
and there is also advice and help for you there. Some staff can get access to some of these data, for
example your Adviser of Studies can see your credit and course records, and it is essential that you
keep us up-to-date with your own contact details. Please update these immediately if there is a


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7. How we monitor your attendance and progress, and how you can report
                        and explain absences

  Monitoring Students' Progress

  The University operates a system for monitoring students' progress to identify students who may be
  experiencing difficulties in a particular course and who may be at risk of losing their class certificate. If
  the Course Co-ordinator has concerns about your attendance and/or performance, the Registry will be
  informed. The Registry will then write to you (by e-mail in term-time) to ask you to contact their office
  in the first instance. Depending on your reason for absence, the Registry will either deal directly with
  your case or will refer you to your Adviser of Studies or a relevant Support Service. This system is
  operated to provide support for students who may be experiencing difficulties with their studies.
  Students are required to attend such meetings in accordance with General Regulation 8.

  Set criteria are used to determine when a student should be reported in the monitoring system. You
  will be asked to meet your Adviser if any of the following criteria apply for a course:-

            ‘either (i) if you are absent for a continuous period of two weeks or 25% of the course
                         (whichever is less) without good cause being reported;
            or (ii) if you are absent from two small group teaching sessions (e.g. tutorial, laboratory class)
                    without good cause;
            or (iii) if you fail to submit a piece of summative or a substantial piece of formative in-course
                     assessment by the stated deadline'

  If you fail to respond within the prescribed timescale (as set out in the e-mail or letter), you
  will be deemed to have withdrawn from the course concerned and will accordingly be ineligible to take
  the end-of-course assessment or to enter for the resit. The Registry will write to you (by e-mail in term-
  time) to inform you of this decision. If you wish consideration to be given to reinstating you in the
  course you will be required to meet with the Convener of the Students' Progress Committee.

  See also Section 5 of the web based General Course Guide.

  If you are absent from one or more practical classes these will be discounted from the total mark
  spreadsheet ONLY if a medical certificate or acceptable self-certification form has been submitted. If
  your reason for absence is unacceptable or if you do not submit an ABSENCE FROM CLASSES FORM
  you will be awarded a zero mark for each practical missed.

  In addition, in SBS, we need to ensure that you have been able to attend and benefit from most of
  the course material. Consequently, even if you have medical certificates or other ‘good cause’
  reasons for absence, if these cover a significant proportion of the course material, we may still regard
  your attendance as unsatisfactory and ask you to discuss your situation with the course organiser.

  Many of our courses require you pass both the CA and theory exam. This is explained clearly in each
  course guide.
If you fail the continuous assessment part of the course, you will be recorded as having failed the
course and so will need to sit the resit examination. Questions on that paper may refer directly to the
practical part of the course.

Should you have to resit the continuous assessment part, your course organiser will discuss the full
details with you.

Class Certificates

A class certificate is defined as “a certificate confirming that a candidate has attended and duly
performed the work prescribed for a course”. The period of validity for a class certificate is limited to
the academic year in which it is awarded and the academic year immediately following. Hence,
candidates have a maximum of four opportunities to take the end-of-course assessment without re-
attendance i.e. the normal (January or May) diet and the August resit diet in the year in which the
course is taken and the year immediately following.

Students who have been reported as ‘at risk’ through the system for monitoring students’ progress due
to their failure to satisfy the minimum criteria (as outlined above) may be refused a class certificate. If
you are refused a class certificate, you will receive a letter from the Registry (e-mail in term-time)
notifying you of this decision. Students who are refused a class certificate are withdrawn from the
course and cannot take the prescribed degree assessment in the current session, nor are eligible to be
reassessed next session, unless and until they qualify for the award of a class certificate by taking the
course again in the next session.

If you wish to appeal against the decision to refuse a class certificate you should do so in writing to the
Head of School within fourteen days of the date of the letter/e-mail notifying you of the decision. If
your appeal is unsuccessful, you have the right to lodge an appeal with the relevant Director of
Undergraduate Programmes within fourteen days of the date you are informed of the Head of School’s

Attendance at classes (and how to report absences)

You are expected to attend all lectures and practicals as laid out in the timetable. Attendance records
for practical classes are held by the technical support team. If you are unable to attend a practical class
you MUST submit an electronic ABSENCE FROM CLASSES FORM within one week of your return to the
university. This form can be accessed on the web at

If you are absent due to illness for less than 6 days you do not need to provide a medical certificate (but
must submit an ‘absence from class form). Illnesses that prevent attendance at classes for more than 6
days do require you to obtain and submit a medical certificate. This should be handed to the Senate
Office and Marie Duncan in room G32 Zoology Building.

If you know that you will have to miss classes, for an acceptable reason such as a funeral, please let the
course organiser know in writing as soon as possible in advance.

If in any doubt about the above matters please contact the course co-ordinators by phone, by e-mail or
in writing as soon as possible. Under no circumstances should you leave matters relating to absence
from classes until the end of the course or even examination time – it may be too late for us to respond
to your advantage.

The university’s policy on requiring certification for absence on medical ground or other good cause
can be accessed at: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/quality/appendix7x5.pdf.

Due to the number of academic appeals which are received which relate to medical evidence which has
not been submitted to schools within the appropriate timescale, the University has noted the following
timeline be adhered to when reporting absences:

 You are strongly advised to make yourself fully aware of your responsibilities if you are absent due to
 illness or other good cause. In particular, you are asked to note that self-certification of absence for
 periods of absence up to and including eleven weekdays is permissible. However, where absence has
 prevented attendance at an examination or where it may have affected your performance in an
 element of assessment or where you have been unable to attend a specified teaching session, you are
 strongly advised to provide medical certification (see section 3 of the Policy on Certification of Absence
 for Medical Reasons or Other Good Cause).

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                             8. Support available to students
The University is keen to help you successfully complete your studies. If at any time you feel you need
assistance, there is a range of support services available to help you. These include support to help with
unexpected and/or exceptional financial difficulty, support for disabled students and academic learning
support through the Student Learning Service.

Further details about all these services are available at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/studenthelpguide/.

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  9. Specific learning difficulties and how we help you cope with them

Students experiencing difficulties such as dyslexia, dysphasia and dyscalculia, which may impair their
performance in continuous assessed work and in examinations, should notify their Course Organisers at
the earliest opportunity. Professional assessment of the difficulty will be necessary if it is to be taken
into account in evaluating examination performance, but this can be arranged, free of charge, through
the Student Health Services. If documentary evidence of such assessments undertaken at Secondary
School can be provided, further assistance may not be necessary. It is University policy to take specific
learning difficulties into account when assessing students’ performance. The onus is, however, on
students to notify the Course Organisers of such difficulties at the earliest opportunity. Useful contacts
for the University support system are:


University Contact: Dr Lucy M. Foley Senior Disability Adviser and Head of Student Advice and Support
Office: Ground Floor, The Hub, Elphinstone Road, Aberdeen, AB24 3TU Tel: (01224) 273935
E-mail: student.disability@abdn.ac.uk

In School of Biological Sciences we have our own staff who help students. Please contact Samantha
Hall (sam.hall@abdn.ac.uk).

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    10. Getting the best from your Adviser of Studies and other staff

It is the role of University staff to teach and support students and we hope that you will find that we
are all interested in your academic progress and your welfare. However, universities are very different
from schools and we expect you to take personal responsibility for your work and to plan your lives to
let you get maximum benefit from your studies. In addition you will be part of very large classes,
especially at 1st year, and so there will be no-one looking out for you each day and noticing if things
start to slip. To try and reduce this problem there are various ways in which we do try and keep an eye
out for you and you can help us in return.

You will be based in a small, stable group of students in your practicals and each group will be assisted
by a postgraduate demonstrator, who will get to know you better than most teaching staff. However,
your course organiser will also see you in the class and you would be surprised to find how familiar
even a large group of students can become. Finally your Adviser of Studies has a special interest in your
progress and will be available to help whenever needed.

To make the most of your contacts with staff, it helps if you plan your approach. Choose the best
person to speak to for each issue. For example, an immediate problem in a practical is best handled by
the demonstrator or lecturer in charge, whereas worries about overall course choices should go to your
Adviser. If time allows, email or ring to arrange a meeting, for staff may well be away from their offices
temporarily. Be constructive and positive in approach, remembering to take with you any papers you
need, and be prepared to explain the problem fully. What you choose to tell an Adviser of Studies will
remain strictly confidential and please do not worry that your academic performance or your concerns
will be judged harshly. Advisers are non-judgmental and are on your side. They will also have heard
most problems before and can help you get things in perspective. However, it really helps to go and get
advice immediately a problem arises, rather than putting this off and letting the problem get worse and
worse. Advisers will not make decisions for you, these are your responsibility. What they will do is to
set out the options and offer advice, which you can choose to take or ignore.

If you have a trouble-free run through your year, you may not need to see your Adviser and may feel
that he or she does not come to know you at all. Alternatively, a student who has many problems
becomes very familiar! However, Advisers like to get to know all their students, even if there are no
problems to sort out and so please try to have the confidence to chat to your Adviser in class or around
the campus, or call just to keep in touch. As the years pass you will certainly get to know many staff and
it helps if you make contact early. Remember that we are University lecturers because we are
fascinated by animals or plants and how they work and we really enjoy sharing this enthusiasm. The
School website lists our particular interests and it is always nice to talk to people with a shared interest.
If you have an existing interest, or find the topics in lectures or practicals especially worthwhile, why
not approach the lecturer concerned and discuss your interests. You will be very welcome.

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   11. The address of our standard 'cover sheet' for submitted work

When submitting assignments we ask that students complete a standard cover sheet to go at the
front of their work: This is available at


Each course has its own instructions about where to submit your work. This may be either to the
course demonstrators or technicians or into a box labelled for the course.

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  12. The ways that we assess your work and report this back to you

In all our courses there is a balance between continuous assessment, such as the write-ups from
practical work, and exams. The exact balance between them is set out in each course manual, and
course organisers also make a point of explaining their system to the class. We realise that it is
important for you to know how well you are progressing and so try to mark and return continually
assessed work as promptly as we can. We are also introducing in-course mini-exams, to help you plot
your progress. For many courses you have to pass the written course exams, if you are to pass the
course overall, and this will be clearly explained to you.

You will be instructed by the lecturer in charge as to what is expected of you for each assignment, and
how you can achieve good marks, and it is our experience that most students do well in course work.
Your demonstrators will also help with advice, if you ask them to do so. Take this advice seriously and
remember that good presentation is important. Sloppy presentation makes it hard for the marker to
follow your work and is also associated with a sloppy approach to the science.

Your work will then be taken in and marked. In very large 1st year classes each demonstrator does the
marking. They are given training in how to do this fairly and constructively but the course organiser will
also look at a selection of assignments from different demonstrators, to check that common standards
are being used. You will be told when to expect each assignment back and they will have a mark and
comments on them. The comments should be constructive, designed to help you improve in future,
and you should read them carefully. If you do not understand what they mean, or you want to ask for
further advice, please ask your demonstrator to explain. By the end of each course you should be
quite clear about the CA marks that you have achieved and the general progress that you have made.

In rare cases you may feel that comments and marks are not fair or helpful and you should then take
your work to the course organiser, who will try and explain what is meant and to reach an equitable
solution. If you have a general issue to raise about the marking, please speak to your Class
Representative, who can take the matter further.

The University recognises that the provision of timely and appropriate feedback on assessment plays a key part
in students learning and teaching. The guiding principles for the provision of feedback within the University are
detailed in the Institutional Framework for the Provision of Feedback on Assessment available at:


Throughout the University, marks are taken from a Common Assessment Scale (CAS), which is
explained in section 14.

Exams make everyone nervous but you can help yourselves to pass by following some simple rules.
First of all, at 1st and 2nd year most exams are based directly on the lectures and practicals, with little
outside reading needed. We know that the most common cause of failure is to miss lectures. Please
attend regularly and you will have the background needed to pass the exams. After each lecture find
time to go over your notes and to ‘revise’ what you have learnt. This helps lodge the facts in your
memory. In the exam, read the instructions carefully and especially read each question and answer
what is asked. Answers that are unfocussed and are just ‘all I can remember about cell division’ (for
example), usually fail! Plan the timing of the questions in the exam and plan each answer, even briefly.
You’ve heard all this before but it remains the best advice.

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13. The policy of the School of Biological Sciences on providing feedback on
                               student’s work
We fully understand the need to offer constructive and motivating feedback on students work and are strongly
supportive of the University’s recent policy on the provision of feedback. This sets out the principles that we try to
apply, namely that feedback should be timely, supportive, understandable and focussed on improvement.

We will provide feedback in a variety of ways, oral and/or written as appropriate to the work being assessed, always
trying to be as helpful as possible. Feedback will be available on all types of work, including exam scripts, and we aim
to provide this in time to help a student improve the next similar assignment. Often feedback will be returned very
quickly but, unless there has been a specific agreement between a staff member and a class of students, it will be
returned within three working weeks. During projects and thesis work, feedback should be available during the
course of the work, often as oral comments at meetings with academic staff, to help guide progress.

Feedback should always be as full and constructive as possible, praising good points, as well as suggesting ways for
improvement, and should be clearly consistent with what was asked of the student, as well as with the CAS mark
awarded. Students are encouraged to discuss written feedback with the member of staff who provided it, with a
view to learning how to improve their performance and this applies equally to students who need to improve on a
poor standard and those who have already done well but wish to do better. Following feedback, students should
always be clear how well they have done and how to improve in the future.

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                14. CAS (Common Assessment Scale) descriptors
The Common Assessment Scale is used throughout the University, so that you will be given marks that
you understand in all your courses. Each band of marks is associated with criteria that are set out below
and these should help you see what you have to achieve to get good marks. You have to interpret them
sensibly, for what applies to an essay may be a little different from what applies to a practical. In
particular, at 1st year we do not really expect you to have done extensive outside reading, although
this always helps, and so the criteria are relaxed over this. Please read the criteria and try to emulate
them, so that you get the best marks possible. You will see that the scale is not linear and that there
are more marks in the fail band than elsewhere. Consequently we do not just average a set of marks to
reach a final, overall mark but use a special conversion scale to help.

20,19,18 - FIRST CLASS

Level of knowledge and understanding beyond the repetition of taught material, usually gained
through extensive wider reading Additionally, showing some of the following:

          Critical thought about the subject
          Superior understanding of concepts
          Originality of thought
          Outstanding analytical ability
          Ability to synthesize and integrate ideas

Very good presentation style

A mark of 20 represents the best that can be expected at this level


Level of knowledge and understanding beyond the repetition of taught material, usually gained from
wider reading Additionally showing evidence of:

          Good appreciation of the subject
          Ability to argue logically
          Coherent organisation and expression of ideas
          Good use of examples to illustrate points and to justify

Allowable lapses:

      Some errors, not fundamental to understanding

Good presentation style

Level of knowledge and understanding based mainly on taught material
Additionally, will show some evidence of:

       Wider reading
       Appreciation of the subject
       Logical argument
       Organisation of ideas

Allowable lapses:
Illustrative examples cover only part of the subject

       Originality limited
       May fail to address all of the question

    Acceptable presentation style

11,10,9 - THIRD CLASS
Level of knowledge and understanding based only on taught material

But will show some of the following:

       Grasp of concepts inadequate
       Development and/or illustration of points lacking
       Recall of some facts inaccurate
       Material presented does not always apply to the subject
       Answer fails to address all of the question

Weak presentation style

8 and below - FAIL
Level of knowledge and understanding based only on taught material
But will show some of the following:

   Material presented does not apply to the subject
   Significant errors in recall of facts
   Fundamental lack of understanding
   Weakness in ability to organise ideas

Poor presentation style
Answer fails to address a high proportion of the question
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      15. 'Demonstrators' and their role in helping you in practicals
In each practical class we use postgraduate demonstrators to help you in your work. In general each
demonstrator will have around 15 students in their group and they should be there for all practicals.
We give them training in how to carry out their tasks and they are paid and should take their job very
seriously. You can expect them to be professional in approach and to be devoted to your cause. They
will also try and make sure that standards are maintained and so will be encouraging you to do well and
to improve.

It is important that you get to know your demonstrators and to establish a relationship with them.
Please feel free to ask them whatever questions you have about your work. They are research students
and so are very interested in biology and will enjoy discussing this with you. However, the topic of the
practical is unlikely to be that of their own research and so they are asked to familiarise themselves
with the topic beforehand and are also given a briefing by the lecturer in charge immediately before
the practical starts. You can expect them to be sufficiently knowledgeable to be helpful.

When you ask them questions you may find that they do not give an immediate detailed answer but
instead ask you something in return. It will not help you if you are merely spoon-fed the facts, with no
thought needed. It is better teaching practice to ask you questions that will force you to think about
your question, so that your understanding is increased. For your part, try to think about the work and
do not be satisfied with just collecting facts. If you do have any concerns about your demonstrator that
you cannot reconcile with them, please speak to the course organiser and/or your class representative.
We will try and help.

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16. Safety in the laboratory and our system for grading risks in practicals

           This guide contains the practical schedules for your course. For general
           information and specific details of the course please consult the course
           WEBCT site at:


            You will notice that all practicals are identified as either LR or R which
                 mean Limited Risk or Risk. You must read the relevant Safety
              Information on the Web pages that explains the meaning of these
               designations. Full risk assessment information can be viewed by
            contacting Mrs Cathlyn Clark, CLSM Teaching Health & Safety Adviser,
                           room B12, Zoology Building, Tel no.3965

                                      Safety/Risk Assessment

  It is the policy of the College of Life Sciences and Medicine Teaching Facility to take all reasonable and
  practicable steps to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of all students whilst at work and to
  protect others against hazards to health and safety arising from the CLSM Teaching Facility activities.
  This responsibility is taken very seriously by the Facility and we also expect students to act in a safe
  and sensible manner.

  Prevention of accidents in laboratories, as in all places of work, is a duty of every individual using or
  entering them. Ensuring the safety of others is as important as the avoidance of personal injury.

  We assume that undergraduates are untrained in all matters of health and safety. Staff therefore,
  have a duty to instruct you in all matters necessary to ensure your health and safety while working in
  University premises and on supervised field trips.

  Academic staff are responsible for the conduct of undergraduate practical classes and are assisted by
  postgraduate demonstrators.
    Individual course practicals have been assessed and are designated as either LR
    (Limited Risk) or R (Risk). The definitions of these categories are given below and
    all students must read, and comply with, the safety instructions set out here and
    any others issued during a practical class.

    Limited Risk category practicals – LR

    Practicals designated as limited risk (LR) present a low risk, providing that students follow basic good
    laboratory practice guidelines.

•  Arrive in time to hear the instructions for the practical class.
•  Do not obstruct corridors, fire exits and passageways that form a means of escape
   from the working area.
• Wear a white laboratory coat, fastened at all times, during practical work.
 • Approved protective equipment, including gloves and goggles, will be provided when recommended
   and students must comply with directions for their use. Long hair must be tied back.
• Eating & drinking is prohibited in laboratories. Smoking is prohibited in all
• University premises.
• Mobile phones must be switched off.
• Do not apply cosmetics or chew pens or pencils in a laboratory
• Mouth pipetting (even of harmless substances) is prohibited.
• When wearing protective gloves do not touch anything that someone else might touch (e.g.
   computer keyboard, door handle, telephone).
• Immediately inform the lecturer or demonstrator of any spillages or breakages. The
   Lecturer/demonstrator will ensure such spillages/breakages are cleared up and
   disposed of correctly.
• Report all accidents to the lecturer or demonstrator.
• Take extra care when using sharp instruments. Dispose of scalpel and razor blades in the bins marked
• Clearly label bottles with their contents e.g. chemical/solution name and, when
• required, mark with the appropriate hazard warning symbol (marking a bottle for
   example “solution A” is not acceptable). Wash bottles, including those containing
   water, must be prominently marked.
• If any equipment has to be set up above head height, ensure that a suitable means of access is
   available(e.g. kickstool or a stepladder). Climbing on a bench, chair or
   laboratory stool is not acceptable.
• Make sure gas and water taps are turned off and electrical equipment (including
   microscopes) are switched off at the mains before you leave the laboratory.
• Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any biological materials or chemicals,
   and always before you leave the laboratory.
•   If the Fire Alarm sounds be quiet and listen for instructions from the person in charge of the
    laboratory. Switch off electrical equipment and bunsen burners. You may have to abandon your
    personal effects and follow a prescribed evacuation route. Stay with your laboratory group and
    demonstrator during the evacuation until instructions are issued to do otherwise.

    Risk category practicals – R

    Practicals designated as Risk (R) have been identified as posing over and above that described for the
    Limited Risk (LR) practicals.

    Risk assessments have been made for these classes and a Risk Assessment Form will have been
    completed by the person in charge of the practical.

    The form highlights the risks involved whether it is the use of a hazardous substance (in accordance
    with Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations – COSHH), biological hazards e.g. micro-
    organisms, equipment or field trips. The form also highlights the control measures that should be
    taken to ensure adequate safeguards are provided. Students can view copies of specific practical Risk
    Assessment Forms by contacting Mrs Cathlyn Clark, CLSM Teaching Facility Health & Safety Adviser,
    room B12, Zoology Building, Telephone no.3965.

    Safety notes, pertinent to each class, are set out in the class instructions and will be referred to in the
    practical briefing prior to the commencement of work. It is therefore important that you arrive on
    time to hear the briefing.
Appendix II

CLSM Teaching Facility Risk Assessment Form

This form must be completed before work commences. One copy for the lab/location and one copy for the
CLSM Teaching Facility Safety Adviser.

   Description of work

  Location of work

   Names of those who will be involved

   Hazard identification – List potentially hazardous chemicals and organisms to be used. Describe main hazards
   (e.g. fire, inhalation, absorption).
   Describe aspects that might create significant risks (e.g. genetic modification, radiation hazard)

   Describe the planned actions in the event of an accident (e.g. spillage)


   Describe the waste procedure

Prepared by _________________________ Signature _________________________ Date ___________

Approved by _________________________ Signature _________________________ Date ____________

Others involved in the work with whom the assessment has been discussed:

Name _______________________________ Signature _________________________ Date ___________

Name _______________________________ Signature _________________________ Date ___________

Name _______________________________ Signature _________________________ Date ___________

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17. Field courses and their place in our teaching

   Most of our degrees require that you attend at least one field course and we take these courses very
   seriously. We know that they are an excellent way to teach you about plants and animals and that they
   are very enjoyable, as well as being hard work! You can also get to know staff well on field courses and
   can begin to develop confidence in your own abilities as biologists.

   At your advising appointment you will be registered for the correct field courses but you also need to
   re-register within the School, during the year. For example, to attend the 1st year Plant Ecology course
   at Bettyhill in Sutherland (BI19P2), which takes place in mid-June, you will need to visit the School
   office in February. To remind you of the registration dates there will be announcements in lectures,
   instructions on the University electronic notice board and on the plasma screen in the Zoology building.
   If in doubt, ask your Adviser of Studies for advice.

   Although we absorb most of the costs of field courses, we do also ask you to make a financial
   contribution both for accommodation and travel. Details are on the course websites. There is a web-
   page devoted to each of our field courses, so that you can find out what to expect from them.

   To a very limited extent we also incorporate field excursions into our normal courses but this is difficult
   with such large classes. To make the best of these it is essential that you turn up on time, with
   appropriate outside clothing and a notebook and pencil, and that you abide by the safety instructions

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    18. Getting your comments heard! Our Class Representative and
Staff/Student Liaison Meeting system: Course Evaluation and SCEF forms

 Getting your comments heard

 We are constantly trying to improve our teaching and the facilities that we use. The University is also
 an active participant in an externally vetted Quality Assurance Scheme, and staff attend training
 courses on new developments in teaching practice. We are proud of our commitment to good teaching
 standards and want to make your time at Aberdeen University as worthwhile as we can. However, we
 recognise that not everything goes as well as we might wish and we very much value your comments
 and opinions.

 The Class Representative system

 We value student’s opinions in regard to enhancing the quality of teaching and its delivery; therefore
 in conjunction with the Students Association we support the operation of a Class representative

 The students within each course, year, or programme elect representatives by the end of the fourth
 week of teaching within each half-session. In this school we operate a system of course representatives
 at 1st, 2nd and 3rd year. Any students registered within a course that wishes to represent a given group
 of students can stand for election as a class representative. You will be informed when the elections for
 class representative will take place.

 What will it involve?

 It will involve speaking to your fellow students about the course you represent. This can include any
 comments that they may have. You will attend a Staff Student Liaison Committee and you should
 represent the views and concerns of the students within this meeting. As a representative you will also
 be able to contribute to the agenda. You then feedback to the students after this meeting with any
 actions that are being taken.


 Training for class representatives will be run by the Students Association in conjunction with SPARQS
 (Student Participation in Quality Scotland). Training will take place in the fourth or fifth week of
 teaching each semester. For more information about the Class representative system visit
 www.ausa.org.uk or email the VP Education & Employability vped@abdn.ac.uk. Class representatives
 are also eligible to undertake the STAR (Students Taking Active Roles) Award. Further information
 about the co-curricular award is available at: www.abdn.ac.uk/careers.

 Election of Class Representative

 Any student wishing to become a class representative does not need a proposer or seconder, but if
 more than one student wishes to become a representative, then an election will take place by a show
    of hands. Class Representative elections take place at the beginning of each course. Students will be
    given 2 to 3 days notice of an impending election. The Class Representative should be elected by the
    end of the second week of each course, and their identity returned to the SRC by the end of week 3.

    The Class Representatives will receive training and regular mailings from the SRC and secretarial help
    will also be available from the SRC if, and when, the Class Representatives require it during their term
    of office. If you become a Class Representative you are not only carrying out a very useful role but you
    will also gain in confidence and will feel you have contributed to the life of the School.

    Course evaluation forms (SCEF forms)

    In addition each student is asked to fill in a course evaluation form, called a SCEF form, near the end
    of the course. We are required to get these forms completed and if we achieve less than a 75% return
    we have to explain why we have failed. After we have finished with them, the forms are stored by the
    University and used in forthcoming external reviews of teaching quality. For Session 2011-12 these
    forms will now be online.

    The forms have a general page and then one specific to the course, each with many questions on it. The
    answers are read by computer, so that we get a quick analysis of your opinions of all aspects of our
    courses and it is usual practice for course organisers to receive these opinions and then to hold a
    meeting with the class during a lecture or practical session, to report and discuss the findings.

    After the course has finished, the team of lecturers and technicians involved with the course meet to
    chat about the way that the course went. They plan new lectures or practicals, or other changes that
    will be beneficial, and they specifically refer to the minutes of the Student/Staff Liaison Group meeting
    and to the SCEF forms. Any question where fewer than 85% of the returns are favourable is discussed
    at length and improvements planned for the following year. We take your opinions very seriously, after
    all the entire system is for your benefit, and you may be quite sure that your comments are important
    to us.

    List of Staff who convene Student/Staff Liaison Group Meetings

Level 1                    Dr John Baird               272882                      john.baird@abdn.ac.uk
Level 2                    Dr Andrew Cameron           272673                      a.d.cameron@abdn.ac.uk
Level 3                    Mrs Cath Dennis             274155                      c.dennis@abdn.ac.uk
Level 4                    Dr Tara Marshall            272278                      c.t.marshall@abdn.ac.uk

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                  19. Advice on how to do well in your courses

We want all students to fulfil their potential and take no pleasure when students fail. In fact we try to
support students in many ways, so as to prevent failure! However, a University is rather an impersonal
and crowded place and many students do not do as well as we would hope.
The main key to success is to attend all your lectures and practicals and to keep up with submission
dates and with your own revisions of your lecture material.

We know that there is a very strong correlation between failure to attend lectures and failure to pass
courses. If all students attended all lectures the fail rate would be only 1-2%, instead of the existing 10-
15%. If you have to get a job to keep you afloat financially, then arrange this and your social life so that
you can keep up with your work, as well as enjoying the other sides to your life. Please do not neglect
your academic work, but this will still leave you with plenty of time to go out and to have a good time.
If you miss deadlines, or get behind with lecture notes then a vicious spiral sets in. You worry, you have
less time to keep up with the new lectures and assignments, and you get more stressed and less able to
cope. Steady, easy work is much to be preferred over occasional binges of frantic study!

Secondly, listen to advice about what we expect from you for any assignment and stick to the rules and
the subject. It is very depressing to have to give a low mark to a write-up which is just too long or off
the topic, when it is otherwise clear that the student is quite knowledgeable and capable. This is
another very common cause of failure.

Next, aim from 1st year onwards for a professional standard of work. Your eventual employers will
expect a professional standard and we also insist on it. Produce work that you are proud of and this will
be reflected in your marks. Poor quality of presentation is usually associated with poor academic
quality. If you cannot be bothered to produce good quality work, you probably cannot be bothered to
learn the biology.

Plan ahead and organise your written work into a coherent order of sections, with clear headings, so
that your reader is led easily through your facts and arguments. Practical reports are always set out in a
logical order; stick to it and you will do well.(You will hear more of this in class but generally there will
be an Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results and Discussion section.) Keep to the point and
remember that your work should lead logically to a clear and simple conclusion.
Your marker will be considering whether you have achieved the criteria set out for different marks on
the Common Assessment Scale and will also be asking whether you have done well in the following

      Presentation (neatness, legibility, clarity, absence of textual errors)

      Use of correct words, punctuation and grammatical construction (‘readability’)

      Factual content (selection, accuracy)

      Evidence of understanding (comprehension)

      Critical ability and exercise of judgement with reasons
      Development of a theme or logical argument

      Balance of sections and optimal use of word limit overall

      Originality and self-expression (personal involvement)

      Graphics (diagrams, drawings)

      Evidence of ‘outside’ reading

      Quality of reference list.

This advice works for exam essays, as well as for class work. Aim for a high standard and you will get a
good reward for your efforts

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    20. The University's Code of Teaching Practice and the University
                      Quality Assurance Handbook

University Code of Teaching Practice
The University has adopted a code of teaching practice that sets out the responsibilities that we face in providing good quality
teaching and also your own responsibilities in taking advantage of the teaching offered. This code was
approved by the University Committee on Teaching and Learning, which is where major teaching issues
are discussed and adopted. There are student representatives on this committee, to put the student
point of view and to ensure that it remains practical and useful.

Responsibilities of Teaching Staff

a) Provision of Information for Students
Giving clear information on:-
i) aims of the course
ii) the relationship between the course and degree regulations
iii) teaching methods to be used
iv) attendance expected and course work required
v) methods of course assessment and marking criteria
vi) tutorial arrangements
vii) criteria for admission to Honours programmes
viii) reading matter recommended
ix) use of course evaluation forms
x) avenues for seeking help and advice
xi) laboratory and other practical activities
xii) safety in laboratory and other forms of practical work

b) Course content
Ensuring that the content of the course is:
i) relevant to the stated aims
ii) adequately covered
iii) where appropriate, a reflection of current professional practice
iv) as interesting and stimulating as possible
v) appropriate to the prerequisites and level of study of the course

c) Assistance to students
Helping student progress in learning by:
i) being accessible to students at reasonable times to provide assistance in dealing with academic
difficulties arising in the course
ii) identifying inadequate progress and initiating appropriate remedial advice or action
iii) returning written course work with constructive criticism in reasonable time
iv) taking all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of students in laboratory and other practical
d) Quality of Teaching and Assessment
Ensuring that teaching quality is maintained and extended by:
i) taking appropriate opportunities offered for development in teaching skills and educational
ii) using, where appropriate, available aids to learning
iii) developing transferable skills
iv) using the University’s Common Assessment Scale
v) using student evaluation and external examiner feedback
vi) reviewing course design and assessment techniques

Responsibilities of Students

a) Taking full advantage of the teaching provided by:
i) regular attendance at lectures, tutorials, laboratory and other practical class as required by
ii) active participation in tutorials, seminars and group activities
iii) punctual completion and submission of course work
b) Contributing to the improvement of courses through co-operation in the completion of student
course evaluation forms.
 c) Co-operation in the development of a learning environment.
d) Using the opportunities offered to seek advice on difficulties encountered in a course.
e) Maintaining a standard of behaviour during teaching sessions which allows all class members to
take full advantage of the teaching.
f) Informing Departments, Advisers and Regents at the earliest possible opportunity of any disability,
illness or extenuating circumstances which may affect academic performance.
g) Communicating suggestions for the improvement of courses, and contributing to staff-student
consultative committees.

This code is intended as a statement of good practice for undergraduate teaching. It is made
available to all students and members of teaching staff at the beginning of each session. The Code
was designed by the University Committee on Teaching & Learning and has been approved by the
Enquiries about the Code should be addressed to the Clerk to the University
Committee on Teaching & Learning, Registry, University Office, University of
Aberdeen, King’s College, Aberdeen AB24 3FX.

The University Academic Quality Handbook

All of this helpful material, plus advise and information on all other aspects of your academic life, can
be found in the University Academic Quality Handbook (http://www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/quality/). This
explains everything you need to know about teaching and learning at University of Aberdeen, together
with much more that you can leave to administrators. Please bookmark the address and refer to the
right section whenever you are unclear on something important to you.

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                       21. Copyright laws and photocopying
We have to copy published material for some of our teaching and you will also find that you frequently
want to copy papers and pages from books. However, there are strict copyright laws that quite
properly restrict how much you can copy of any one book and how many copies may be made. We
must abide strictly by these rules!
Another important issue is that copying can waste a huge amount of paper and the University has a
policy to reduce paper use as much as possible. Please restrict your own copying and re-use and re-
cycle as much as you can.


The following is based on the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Higher Education
Copying Accord of April 1998.

WHAT IS LEGAL? Under the terms of fair dealing you may make one copy for the purposes of your own
studying one article from one issue of a periodical, one chapter from a book or up to 5% of the book
one short story or one poem (not exceeding 10 pages) from an anthology in Heavy Demand, a lecturer
may be allowed to place two articles from the same periodical or two chapters from the same book,
but you can only copy one of them1% from a newspaper

WHAT IS ILLEGAL? More than one article from the same issue of a periodical more than one chapter
from the same book or more than 5%more than 1% from a newspaper multiple copying for yourself
and others (e.g. classmates)make a photocopy of someone else’s personal photocopy your lecturer can
place two articles from the same periodical in Heavy Demand, you cannot copy both your lecturer can
place two chapters from the same book in Heavy Demand, you cannot copy both resell a course study
pack of photocopied articles you have purchased from your department

WHY? Legislation is in place to protect the rights of authors. However special conditions apply to
educational institutions and their members which allow them to make photocopies under the rules set
out above.
The recent Higher Education Copying Accord includes the requirements related to copyright materials
in study packs and was drawn up between the CVCP (Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals)
and the CLA (Copyright Licensing Agency).


Study packs of photocopied extracts from books and periodicals are now common in teaching. If your
lecturer provides you with over 25 pages and 4 articles of photocopied material which is mandatory/set
reading, this constitutes a study pack and now requires the University to pay a fee. This fee may be
passed on to you as part of the total cost of producing the study pack. The legislation and the Accord
mentioned above relate only to paper to paper. Digital copyright also exists but is covered by separate
agreements and legislation. The Internet is subject to copyright restrictions too and varies from site to
site. You should check the copyright information on each site before downloading and always
acknowledge the source of your information as you would a paper source
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                  22. Plagiarism; what it is and how to avoid it

Academic integrity is an important issue in University life. You should be aware of what constitutes
academic dishonesty and avoid getting yourself into such situations.

The University regards cheating in prescribed degree assessments, whether course work or
examinations, as a serious disciplinary offence.

Every item of assessed work that you hand in must have attached to it a signed copy of the School of
Biological Sciences cover sheet. In signing the sheet you will be confirming that the work is your own.
This cover sheet can be downloaded as a word document from

In the Code of Practice on Student Discipline
http://www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/quality/appendix5x15.pdf "cheating" includes plagiarism.

Plagiarism is the use, without adequate acknowledgement, of the intellectual work of another person
in work submitted for assessment. A student cannot be found to have committed plagiarism where it
can be shown that the student has taken all reasonable care to avoid representing the work of others
as his or her own.

Here are some guidelines that will help you avoid violating the rules governing academic

      Carefully read and understand the instructions for every assignment before you begin work. Do
       not share written documentation with your peers nor loan to them disks containing your work.
      Unless told otherwise, assume that course assignments are to be done individually.
      When in doubt about the rules, ask the course coordinator for clarification.
      Do not wait until the last moment to begin work on an assignment.
      Never present the work of another as your own. This means that you must use quotation marks
       to identify all borrowed text.
      Use appropriate referencing when citing the work of others'. If you refer to an author's work
       that you have only read about in another author's paper then you must quote the original
       author using the notation: (Snodgrass 1903 in Fortescue 2000).

To check if you really understand what plagiarism is, take the plagiarism self-test at:

We now ask that all essays and theses submitted in years 3 and 4 are loaded in electronic form onto a
website that checks to see that none of the text has been copied from either other students or from
another web-site. We hope that the use of this check will reduce the chance of anyone gaining good
marks by copying from others and are pleased that results so far indicate that this is only a small
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           23. Disciplinary matters and penalties that might apply

It is very rare indeed that students do something sufficiently serious to warrant University disciplinary
action. Cheating in its various forms is the most frequent problem but occasionally students have been
disruptive in classes or have stolen or damaged University property. Of course, activities that are illegal
in the meaning of the normal criminal code are equally unwelcome. There is a University Code of
Practice on Student Discipline that governs the actions that we might take and you can see this at

If there is criminal action then the police are invariably involved. Otherwise the matter is dealt with by
a University Disciplinary Committee or other levels of authority appropriate to the offence. The
procedure is set out in full in the Code but is just as you might expect. An investigating officer collects
evidence for the University and the student is informed in writing of the nature of the alleged offence
and the time of the hearing. The student may be accompanied by anyone he/she chooses and the
evidence is heard and cross-examined. The result of the findings are then given in writing and there is
opportunity for an appeal. Penalties for non-academic offences include fines, restitution costs, and
exclusion from the University or from Hall. In the most serious cases permanent exclusion may be used.
Academic matters, such as cheating, may first be dealt with by the Head of School, and penalties can
range from being given a mark of zero for a piece of work, to exclusion from a course, or even being
sent down and so being unable to take a degree.

All of this is fortunately very rare indeed and, if you are sensible, need never apply to you.

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                                 24. What to do if you fail!

We do our best to help you not to fail courses and to fulfil your potential, however, students do fail
and we then want to help you pass at resit. Provided that you have attended regularly and have not
been withdrawn from a class, you have the right to resit exams for that course in the following year,
without having to re-attend classes.

The first thing to do if you fail is to arrange to see your Adviser of Studies. Do not delay and let the
worry of your failure cause you increasing and unnecessary stress – sort it out straight away and you
will feel better.

Meet your Adviser to check the consequences of the failure, to see if the course is required as part of a
degree programme, as a pre-requisite for later courses, or just to give you the credits needed to
complete your degree. Sometimes a course is not essential, or sometimes you can make up credits
elsewhere. Do not make your own decision on this but get advice from your Adviser.

If you do need to resit, then find out when the resit exam will be held and register for it as early as
possible. You do this at the Undergraduate Registry desk in the University Office, by filling in the right

Now find out why you failed and begin to improve your chance of passing the resit. Ask the course
organiser to explain to you where and why you failed. It is very unlikely that you failed the continuous
assessment element of the exam, but if you did then ask how you can make this up. It is much more
likely that you failed your exam. Find out which part you failed. In some cases it may have been a
Multiple Choice Question paper, in which case the failure will almost certainly have been because you
just did not know enough of the factual course material. Alternatively, it may have been a failure of
essay style questions. This may also be caused by lack of factual knowledge but it may also have been
because of a lack of understanding. Most often, it will have been because you did not answer the
question but just wrote generally about the topic. The failure may have been caused not by a lack of
knowledge but by a failure to arrange and present your answer in an acceptable way. Your course
organiser will not give you your marks, nor can the script be returned, but he/she should be able to
guide you as to the cause of failure.

If the problem is lack of knowledge, you must revisit your notes, read to fill in any gaps caused by non-
attendance of lectures (the most common cause of all failures), and revise to gather the facts. If it is
lack of understanding, arrange politely to speak to the lecturer whose material is involved and ask for
help in improving your understanding. This might be by having a quick discussion, reading some extra
or different texts, or re-attending selected lectures. If the problem is an inability to plan and write
essays then you may find that there are self-help tutorials on the University system, or your Adviser or
another member of staff may be persuaded to read some of your work and to offer advice on how to
improve things. If your problem is a real disability, like dyslexia, then there is specialist help available.
If you are conscientious and organise your time so that you can study properly, then it is very likely that
you can pass our courses. After all, you have already passed enough exams to get to University. All of
us who are Advisers will know of many students who have failed courses but who have then got
themselves sorted out and who have passed their degrees well.

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   25. Appeals and complaints; how to use our procedures correctly

Guidance note on Appeals and Student Complaints

To help you to know your rights of appeal and to understand the procedures used if you wish to appeal
or complain about University decisions, there is advice available on the University website.

Academic Appeals

The University’s Guidance Note on Academic Appeals can be obtained from the Senate Office in the
Registry or can be accessed at: www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/appeals

It indicates that appeals committees will limit their consideration to matters of procedure, competency
and/or prejudice. Those involved in considering academic appeals will not review matters of academic
judgement, which are solely for the person or committee that has made the academic judgement to
determine. For an appeal to be upheld, a student must have suffered material disadvantage.

Your attention is drawn to the following paragraph of the University’s Policy on Academic Appeals:

“Details of illness and/or other personal circumstance which either has prevented students from
taking an assessment or from meeting a deadline for the submission of assessed work, or which
students believe may have affected their performance in an assessment that contributes towards the
result of a course or programme, will be accepted as grounds for appeal only if the Head of the
relevant School has received written notification of them no later than one week after the date on
which a student submitted, or was due to submit, an assessment or on which a student appeared, or
was due to appear, for the assessment concerned. Where good reasons have prevented a student
from notifying the Head of School within this period, the student should write to the Head of the
School as soon as is practicable and give details both of the illness and/or other personal
circumstances and of the reasons why the Head of the School was not notified of the circumstances
within the prescribed period. Details reported after notification of the result will be accepted as
grounds for appeal only in limited circumstances.”

The Vice-President (Advice & Support) in the Students' Association is available to help students
considering submitting an appeal (tel: +44(0)1224 272965).

Student Complaints

The University aims to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for its undergraduate
students. However, occasionally students will encounter problems and difficulties. Complaints should
be addressed in the first instance to the person who is in charge of the University activity concerned,
e.g. the Head of the relevant School about academic matters; the Head of the relevant administrative
section about the service that you receive; a Warden about residential matters. Your Adviser of Studies
or the Students’ Association will assist you if you are unsure how to pursue a complaint.
The University's Policy on Student Complaints available at: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/appeals

The Vice-President (Advice & Support) in the Students' Association is available to help students wishing
to make a complaint (tel: +44(0)1224 272965).

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                               26. Personal Development Planning

What’s PDP?
Personal Development Planning (PDP) is defined as a structured and supported process, which will help you think
about your own learning and achievement and plan for your personal, educational and career development. To find
out      more     about     your    online     PDP      resource     and     associated      ePortfolio    visit:

The main purpose of PDP is to help you learn more effectively and understand yourself better, to make the most of
your University time and plan for your future. At University you will be learning and gaining new experience
throughout your degree but also through other activities such as sports, volunteering, work placements and part-time
paid employment. Your PDP will help you to make the most of all these activities by reflecting on what you have
learned and building up a picture of your individual experience and abilities at each stage of your degree.

What does PDP involve?
PDP encourages you to record your academic, work experience and extracurricular achievements and to learn
through reflection and goal-setting exercises. It is up to you to keep your personal development record up to date.
You should do this as you go along.

What are some of the benefits of PDP?

       Enhanced awareness of your strengths and weaknesses and increased confidence and employability. This
        includes a greater self-awareness of the skills and attributes which you need to develop to achieve your
       Logging your achievements and skills will also provide evidence and proof of your competencies to build your
        CV for employment or future study.

What do employers think of PDP?
Accenture - "We require students who can demonstrate that they have, not only performed well throughout their
academic career, but also developed their skill set outside of it and will stand out from their peers."

In addition to a good degree in your chosen subject area, employers are looking for personal attributes e.g. initiative
and flexibility and skills that are transferable to the work place, such as problem-solving, IT and teamwork. This is
where your PDP comes in!

How do I participate in PDP?
The Careers Service and the Centre for Learning & Teaching have developed the online PDP resource and are working
with students and Academic Schools to introduce PDP. If you are a Level I student and wish to find out more about
the online PDP resource, register to attend a PDP workshop at the start of term by e-mailing:

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                             27. Aberdeen Graduate Attributes
Graduate Attributes are a wide-ranging set of qualities which students develop during their time at Aberdeen
in preparation for employment, further study and citizenship.

There are four main areas of the Graduate Attributes:

Academic excellence
Critical thinking and communication
Learning and personal development
Active citizenship

Students have many opportunities to develop and achieve these attributes. These include learning
experiences on credit-baring courses and co-curricular activities such as work placements, study abroad and
volunteering. In accordance with the University’s commitment to Equality and Diversity, students can request
support with any respect of the Graduate Attributes framework.

The ACHIEVE website offers resources that enable students to assess and reflect upon their present skills and
development needs. The Blackboard site also contains resources to help students to improve their skills and
links to a range of university services such as the Careers Service and the Student Learning Service. Students
can access ACHIEVE in their Blackboard site list of courses.

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                                    28. The Co-curriculum
The co-curriculum enhances a student’s employability and provides opportunities to develop and
achieve Aberdeen Graduate Attributes. Co-curricular activities complement a student’s degree
programme and include: work placements, study abroad, enterprise and entrepreneurship activities,
the BP Student Tutoring Scheme and the STAR (Students Taking Active Roles) Award initiative. Below
are examples of credit bearing co-curricular activities.

ERASMUS is an exchange programme funded by the European Commission which enables students
to study or work in another European country as part of their degree programme. Eligible students
will receive a grant to help with extra costs while abroad and a number of our partner institutions
teach through English. For more information, visit www.abdn.ac.uk/erasmus/. The University also
has opportunities for students to study in a non-European country as part of their degree through the
International Exchange Programme. International partners include universities and colleges in North
America, Hong Kong and Japan (www.abdn.ac.uk/undergraduate/international-exchange.php). The
University aims to ensure full academic recognition for study periods abroad, therefore the credits
gained from study abroad will count towards the Aberdeen degree programme for students
participating in both ERASMUS and the International Exchange Programme.

Work placements can also form an integral part of a degree programme and attract academic credit.
Placements are available locally, nationally and internationally, lasting from a few weeks to a full year
and are generally paid. Visit the Careers Service website for further placement information and to
find available work placements.

Further information about the co-curriculum is available at: www.abdn.ac.uk/careers

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