Introducing the School of Biomedical Sciences

debbie bevittThe School of Biomedical Sciences offers a range of 3 year BSc undergraduate bioscience degree programmes, with a focus on human health and disease. Currently these include Biomedical Sciences, BMS with Industrial Placement, Biochemistry, Biomedical Genetics, Physiological Science, Pharmacology, BMS with Microbiology and Exercise Biomedicine. We also offer 4 year MSci programmes in Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry and Biomedical Genetics.  We have just over 1000 students registered in the school, approximately 20% of whom are international students.

The BSc Biomedical Sciences programme is also delivered at the NuMed campus in Malaysia; this programme was established by Nick Morris and is now being led by Chris Baldwin.  The NuMed students take Stage 1 and 2 at the Malaysia campus and then come to Newcastle for their final year.  The first Stage 3 NuMed cohort arrived in Newcastle this semester and will graduate in 2016.

The School comprises 12 members of academic staff, 10 administrative staff and 5 technical staff.  This teaching-focussed team manage the delivery of the undergraduate degree programmes and provide dedicated support to students throughout their studies.  Teaching and personal tutoring for the programmes is delivered by academic staff from both the school and the research institutes.  Research institute staff contribute significantly to our programmes delivering high quality research-led teaching, particularly in the honours years of the programme, and some are also involved as module leaders and members of the Board of Studies.  The highlight of all our degree programmes is an individual 10 week full time research project; the majority of the students undertake their projects with a research team in one of the research institutes, although some undertake alternative projects, including an Experimental Design project, delivered by academic staff in the school, and Erasmus exchange projects in Europe, co-ordinated by Carys Watts.

School staff are actively involved in Educational Research projects, some of which have been developed through participation in the CASAP and EquATE programmes. For example:

  • Damian Parry, in collaboration with Dr Helen Hooper (Northumbria University), has been investigating students’ perception of scientists and has also recently begun a study of student perceptions of feedback, with the assistance of a Newcastle Work Experience student intern.
  • Geoff Bosson has introduced a practical skills test taken by all Stage 1 students and is investigating the extent to which engagement with the test develops student confidence and the role of emotional learning in this process.
  • Lindsey Ferrie has established a network of student Employability Ambassadors, who help to prepare fellow students for graduate employment. She has also developed a “Feedback Foghorn” delivered via e-portfolio and is investigating whether this mechanism encourages students to reflect on and engage with their feedback.
  • Carys Watts is developing training sessions to help students to communicate complex scientific information, generated during summer vacation research projects, to an audience of non-scientists and is exploring how students understand the concept of the “layperson” in this context.
  • Debbie Bevitt and Nick Morris are working with two student interns, Bronte Elliott and Kate Johnson, and Dr Sue Thorpe (School of Psychology), to evaluate student use of social media during study, the extent to which they perceive this to be a distraction and how students self-manage their online activities to avoid distraction. This project is funded by a ULTSEC Innovation fund grant.

Dr Debbie Bevitt, Head of School of Biomedical Sciences

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