Contemporary Topics


This module will take an in-depth look at current research in two main areas relevant to their chosen MSci degree pathway. This will involve a detailed examination of the theory, literature and where appropriate, laboratory work. Each area will be independently delivered and assessed with equal weighting of 50% per area.


The aim of this module is to extend the students knowledge and understanding of specifies areas of their chosen MSci degree pathway.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Evaluate critically the current and seminal literature of two selected areas.

2.  Ability to perform experimentation, data analysis or similar as dictated by topic choice.

3.  Critically appraise techniques and approaches used in the selected areas of research.

Indicative Content

1 Topics

A range of topics will be available for in-depth study. These topics will be related to current research at Abertay. The specific topics will vary on an annual basis. Indicative content may include (note this is not an exhaustive list)

2 Flow Cytometry

This topic will introduce the principles and practice of flow cytometry. Students will study and apply experimental design including appropriate choice of target and probes, detection and quantification as well as its correct use in a project workflow. Practical work will focus on cell/probe preparation, use of software, data interpretation/presentation and troubleshooting. Consideration will also be given to research and clinical applications.

3 Multivariate Statistics and data visualisation

With the advent of high-throughput screening, advanced analytical methods and -omics, chemical and biological scientists must now tackle massive data sets to explore and extract knowledge. This module will introduce students to multivariate statistical techniques for clustering, classifying and reducing the dimensionality of large datasets. Students will use SPSS and R to analyse datasets from spectra, chromatograms, thermograms and digital medicine.

4 Design of Experiments

This topic will introduce industry standard statistical techniques for planning and analysing effective and efficient experiments. DOE is a structured statistical approach to experimental design that enables researchers to explore the effect of more than one variable at a time, minimize the number of runs of an experiment, identify, and control sources of variation.

5 Protein Biochemistry

This practical course in protein biochemistry will cover the purification and characterisation of a protein. You will take the process of protein purification from bacteria or cells to a pure preparation using a range of techniques that are commonly used in research and industry. The module will also cover theoretical aspects of protein structure and stability with a focus on aspects pertinent to purification.

6 3D visualisation

Theory and practice of 3D imaging techniques such as X-ray computed tomography (XCT) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) for internal and external three dimensional imaging at a macro to nano level. Benefits and limitations of techniques, practical image collection, qualitative and quantitative analysis of the 3D structures.

7 Product Counterfeiting

Issues concerning production and trafficking of fake and counterfeit products and detection methodologies. Examples include tobacco products, fire retardants, Whiskey/Whisky, Perfume, Manuka Honey, Bomb detectors, wild/farmed fish, Pharmaceutical Drugs. Methodologies include HPLC, GC-MS, FTIR, Raman spectroscopies and statistical analysis of results.

8 DNA sequencing

This module will introduce the student to contemporary DNA sequencing methods e.g. Illumina/ Myseq , Ion torrent, Sanger sequencing and the use in both Medicine, Forensic and Environmental studies.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

In discussion with research-active staff each student will identify 2 areas of interest for advanced study. In each area the student will carry out a focused analysis and review which will include evaluation of the methodologies used in a particular area. There may also be an element of laboratory training to obtain insight into the use of the specified methodologies. Teaching will be in small seminar groups and/or 1:1 with an assigned supervisor. All contact time will be arranged for the first 3 weeks of term.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 0
Tutorial/Seminar 20
Supervised Practical Activity 20
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 40
Independent 120

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.