• Class Number 2797
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 12 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Rachael Remington
    • Dr Rachael Remington
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
SELT Survey Results

BIOL8700 aims to give Masters students the opportunity to develop an original research proposal. Students will enhance their skills in interpreting, synthesizing and critically analysing published literature and subsequently apply their knowledge to new questions in biology. Workshops will consist of discussing research ideas, learning strategies for robust experimental design and analyses, and peer-review activities designed to enhance writing and communication skills. 

For this course you will be also be supervised by the leader of a research laboratory. Students should read online descriptions of research groups in Research School of Biology/JCSMR, identify several laboratories of research fields of interest, and contact supervisors via email to set up an appointment to meet. The ultimate goal of this course is to prepare the Masters student for their research year, which would typically begin the following semester (24 units of either BIOL8701 or MEDN8701).

Once you have found a supervisor, you will interact with the lab members (e.g., discuss research, attend lab meetings). Other members of the research group (post-docs, PhD students and technicians) should also be able to give you guidance and feedback as well as your primary supervisor.

Your research proposal should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the background and proposed techniques of your project and emphasize the biological applications of your research.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Design an original research project on a specific topic in biology.
  2. Interact with members of a primary biological research laboratory at the ANU.
  3. Explain the broader aspects of research mechanisms and how research in biology is conducted.
  4. Integrate diverse methodologies and theories in research planning, including robust experimental design and statistics.
  5. Communicate research ideas, both orally and written, to a broader scientific audience.
  6. Effectively critique and analyse your own and others written work in the peer-review process.

Research-Led Teaching

BIOL8700 is based on preparing students for conducting primary research in an ANU laboratory. Students independently find a research supervisor to collaborate with and design an original proposal of intended research. In this process, students will read numerous scientific journal articles, summarise research in their field, and design and present their own novel experiments. This work will be combined into one written final research proposal document that can be submitted to a funding agency. The final research proposal should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the background and proposed techniques of the project and emphasize the biological applications of the research.

Required Resources

All documents and resources will be provided to the students via the course wattle site.

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

In order to enrol in BIOL8700, students must find an ANU supervisor (lab research leader) to supervise writing and developing their research proposal. Once a supervisor has agreed to mentor the student and signed the Supervisor Agreement Form, then the student can obtain permission to enrol in the course from the convenor (Dr. Rachael Remington: rachael.remington@anu.edu.au)

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction on course and research proposal writing
2 Literature Review & Journal Club (JC) Presentation overviewPeer-evaluation of research proposal examples
3 Literature Review & Journal Club (JC) Presentation Tutorials
4 JC Presentation workshop Reading Record
5 Literature Review critiquePreparing your Experiment
6 JC Presentation Symposium JC Oral Presentation
7 Outline of Experimental Plan Literature Review due
8 Experimental Plan and Statistics workshop I
9 Experimental Plan and Statistics workshop II
10 Experimental Plan Writing Peer Review workshop
11 Final seminar and proposal workshop Experimental Plan due
12 Final seminar practice Lab meeting logbook
13 Final Research Proposal Seminar Symposium Research Proposal SeminarFinal Research Proposal due

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Journal Club Oral Presentation (10%) 10 % 3,5
Literature Review (15%) 15 % 1,2,6
Experimental Plan (20%) 20 % 1,2,4,6
Final Research Proposal Seminar (15%) 15 % 1,5
Final Research Proposal document (40%) 40 % 1,2,3,4,5,6

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


This course is highly interactive during class meetings and self-lead in collaborating with a research scientist and lab of the students' choice. Students are expected to meet with supervisors and lab groups as well as participate in each workshop through discussions with their classmates and peer-review.


This course has no formal “exams”, but instead students are assessed through several writing and scientific presentation assignments.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 3,5

Journal Club Oral Presentation (10%)

Students will choose a scientific journal article and prepare a 15-minute Powerpoint presentation. The presentation will summarise the main research aims, experimental methods, and results, as well as give a strong background and insight into the significance and implications for broader research.

Due: Week 6

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,6

Literature Review (15%)

The literature review will provide background information and identify the knowledge gap on the proposed research. This review will act as a draft of the introduction of the final research proposal.

Due: Week 7

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,6

Experimental Plan (20%)

Students will design an original research plan with their supervisor and write a document primarily describing the methodology. This will also include clearly identifying the research question/ aims, as well as the significance of the project and the anticipated time frame for each part of the project over a 9-month period. 

Due: Week 11

Assessment Task 4

Value: 15 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,5

Final Research Proposal Seminar (15%)

The final research proposal will be presented to the class and lab leaders in a 15-minute Powerpoint presentation, followed by questions from the audience. This presentation will outline the research question, aims, methods, significance and time frame of the novel research project.

Due: Week 12

Assessment Task 5

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Final Research Proposal document (40%)

The final research proposal document will consist of joining a revised literature review and experimental plan into one clear and concise final research proposal (detailed instructions in course guide). This proposal is designed to be the guideline for the novel research project during the following academic year. 

Due: Week 13 (finals week)

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Students in this course have the benefit of being assessed by lab leaders and multiple researchers who provide extensive constructive feedback. Students will receive feedback in time to incorporate suggestions to improve their next assignment and revisions.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

There are no resubmissions of assignments in this course.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Rachael Remington
6125 2280

Research Interests

Stream Ecology and Evolution

Dr Rachael Remington

By Appointment
Dr Rachael Remington
6125 2280

Research Interests

Dr Rachael Remington

By Appointment

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