Developing Practical Skills

Module summary

Module code: ENVI0091
Level: 0
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Science
Module Coordinator(s): Nichola Coleman



This course aims to:-

provide opportunities for students to develop practical skills and to develop an understanding of scientific method;
ensure that students are aware of the need for, and can carry out, safe practice in the laboratory;
reinforce, through experiment, theoretical ideas introduced in other courses and to enable students to acquire new knowledge and understanding through their own investigations;
encourage students to develop their observation, recording, communication and data analysis skills.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, the student will:-
be able to demonstrate an awareness of laboratory hazards and be conversant with safe practice in the laboratory;
be able to conduct experimental work following written instructions;
be able to make accurate and precise measurements and observations;
be able to record and communicate experimental results and conclusions;
appreciate the factors involved in designing simple experiments.

Skills Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course, a student will be able to carry out practical exercises with due regard to the hazards presented by the materials and equipment used. The student will be able to work effectively as a member of a team and demonstrate the ability to evaluate and report the results of investigations.

Indicative content

Exemplar of Experiments:
Making compounds from elements - practical and demonstration;
Determining formulae from experimental data;
Devising an experiment to determine the SHC of water;
Determining an enthalpy change of reaction from given instructions;
Test tube reactions of simple chemical changes, e.g. thermal decomposition, precipitation, displacement, redox;
Preparation of aspirin;
Chemical tests for organic content of a range of substrates;
Microscopy. Examination of electron micrographs;
Pulse rate experiment;
Plant transport experiments and tissues involved;
Fermentation under different conditions;
Investigation of substances that do/not obey Hooke's Law;
Determination of Young's modulus;
Hardness, brittleness and automated testing of the properties of materials in the laboratory;
Investigation of substances that do/not obey Ohm's Law;
Characteristic of an operational amplifier;
Specific heat capacity by an electrical method;
Energy conversion experiments, building a simple dynamo;
Enzymes: Digestion and Enzyme Properties;
Root tip squash;
Chi-squared test;
Daphnia heart rate experiment.

Teaching and learning activity

This course will be largely laboratory based but may be supported by briefing and de-briefing seminars. Exercises will be designed to develop laboratory skills but will also ensure that the balance of transferable skills is enhanced, e.g. use of information technology, numeracy, team work. Each student will be responsible for maintaining a file containing the experimental methods used, results obtained, analysis undertaken and conclusions drawn.
Laboratory 80% Tutorials/Workshops 20%


Assessment of individual pieces of practical work may vary according to the objective of the exercise but will reflect the learning objectives of the course.

The overall balance of the assessment may be:

Observation of practical sessions - 30%
Manipulative and observational skills and safe execution of operations in the laboratory.
Coursework - 70% Assessment of a minimum of 12 laboratory reports, including presentation and processing of experimental data.