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Plant Sciences

Programme Specification: Part II Plant Sciences

This course is taught principally by the Department of Plant Sciences. Students may also attend inter-departmental modules run in conjunction with the Departments of Zoology and Genetics, as well as some options within the Part II Zoology course.


  1. to provide an up-to-date review of several aspects of plant sciences and microbiology, including specialised techniques and experimental approaches used in modern plant and microbial sciences research;
  2. to enable students to acquire specialised knowledge of selected areas of plant sciences and microbiology;
  3. to provide training in research skills through an independent research project in a laboratory or field-based context, lasting twelve weeks;
  4. to provide training in both scientific and transferable skills, including in oral and written presentation, which will serve as a lasting and practical basis for a career in industry, pure or applied biology, teaching, publishing or management.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students should:

  1. be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding in several aspects of modern plant and microbial sciences research, and to analyse critically research literature;
  2. be able to design and execute a research-based experiment, and to interpret the data obtained;
  3. have acquired knowledge of how research is presented through having produced a written report on their research project, and given an oral presentation.

Teaching and Learning Methods

These include lectures, supervisions, workshops, research work and seminars


Assessment for this course is through:

  • four unseen written examinations (for aims 1-2 and learning outcome 1);
  • a dissertation of no more than 5000 words based on a research project undertaken by the student over a twelve-week period (for aims 2-4 and learning outcomes 2-3);
  • an oral presentation of the major objectives and finding of the research project (for aim 4 and learning outcome 3);
  • a critical essay of no more than 2500 words on a topic unrelated to the research project (for aims 1, 2 and 4 and learning outcomes 1 and 3).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: at least one biological subject in Parts IA or IB of the NST.

Recommended: Part IB of the NST, including any of Plant and Microbial Sciences, Cell and Developmental Biology, Ecology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and/or Pathology; Part IA of the NST, including any of: Biology of Cells, Physiology of Organisms and/or Evolution and Behaviour.

Additional Information

Further information on each subject is available in the Subject summary and on the Course Websites pages.