The title to the Term Essay assignment is as follows:
Write an essay in which you use a named human disease to explore one of the following genetic concepts: Pleiotropy; Gene Interaction; Translocation; Incomplete penetrance; Duplication; Multiple alleles; Incomplete dominance; Sex limitation
Word count: 1000 words (word count is the absolute maximum). Note that this includes all words after the title of the essay (which does not count) to the end of text references. Therefore the word count includes any headings, figure legends and tables. Any labelling in figures does not contribute to the word count (as long as this is within reason!).
You can use a disease mentioned in the lectures or you, can find another that illustrates the relevant topic. Whatever you choose, you need to cover the disease in more detail than it was covered in the lectures. By disease this has an open definition and may refer to a syndrome or disorder.
1) Overview of the Term Essay
All students have to make 3 separate submissions. First, you will submit a ‘First Draft’ of your essay. This draft will be reviewed by one of your peers, who will give you feedback about how to improve the essay. You in turn will be required to review one of your peer’s essays. The reviewing process will be anonymous. You will then have a short period to improve the essay, before submitting a final draft of the essay which will be marked by the Course Organizers and PGTAs. The deadlines for the 3 submissions are given below:
The coursework essay represents 60% of the total mark for . To be considered complete for the essay, you must submit a complete first draft, the peer review exercise and the final draft along with a response to the peer review within their respective hand-in dates. Being late for any deadline will be penalized according to the UCL regulations (please see the Moodle home page).
Should you enquire an extension, you will need to submit an extenuating circumstances (EC) form which you can navigate to via the ‘Module Information’ tab. Extensions will be decided by the Faculty Tutor or Departmental tutor. Please note that neither Dr Bellamy nor Prof Jones has permission to grant you extensions. If you are given an extension via ECs, please inform DR Bellamy to avoid any late penalty being added to your submission.
If you have a SORA which gives you a 1 week extension to written assignments, you do not need to submit an EC form or inform us that you have a SORA (we already know this information).
For students with ECs and wish to use the week extension on their SORAs, separate submission links will be added to the ‘Term Essay’ tab. Adjusted deadlines can also be found here.
2) How do I write a biosciences essay?
Dr Bellamy will give a recorded Lecturecast on “How to Write a Biosciences Essay”. It is strongly advised that you watch the Lecturecast and read the lecture slides should also be available.
How to plan your essay
It is important that you do not rush into the essay. The word count for this essay is low; only 1000 words. It therefore requires concise writing. All essays should be planned before hand, and I would advise dedicating at least a weekend to just researching and planning the essay.
The essay should be based on scientific research, and we expect you to use material from across the lecture course as well as additional RELEVANT material from other courses or from your own reading. In addition to the lectures, you are expected to use a minimum of 5 different references from scientific journals and books (preferably the former). The web has a wealth of information, but some websites do not use reputable sources, so use them sparingly. For example, while Google and Wikipedia are a good first step in finding information, they are not a primary source, and we expect you to dig deeper than that: a suitable reference would be a review article, a book chapter or an original scientific paper. Databases like Web of Science (on the library website) and PubMed are powerful search engines for scientific literature, and you should be using them.
It is your responsibility to make sure you save your essay while you are working on it and to always keep a backup copy in a different place (UCL N: Drive; cloud; USB stick; email). Last minute hard drive crashes etc. will not be accepted as an excuse for handing in late.
The essay structure and content
A good essay has a brief introduction, a logical progression of coherent arguments in the main part backed up by examples, and a conclusion that wraps up your argument. In addition to discussing relevant facts, the better and more clearly your essay is structured, the higher your mark is likely to be. Be concise in your writing; the course organisers have to read a lot of essays and ‘waffle’ is very noticeable and is heavily penalised.
You may, if you wish, use 1 or 2 figures to illustrate points in the text. These MUST be relevant and be referred to in the text of the essay. Figures that are from other sources or modified from other sources should be referenced.
All sources other than your lectures (including figures and tables) must be referenced within the text and at the end. If you use figures or pictures, they need to be relevant and you need to refer to them in the text. If they are used, quotes should be immediately referenced. Please use the Harvard Style or Vancouver Style when referencing. Do not use footnotes.
Within text Harvard referencing:
Standard 1 author: (Author’s last name year) eg: (Jones 2021)
Standard 2 authors: (First author last name & Last author second name year) eg: (Jones & Bellamy 20121)
Standard for 3 or more authors (First author surname et al. year) eg: (Jones et al. 2021)
Direct quote: (Author’s last name, year, page number) Author mentioned in text (year) eg: Jones (2021) claimed that…
End of text Harvard referencing
For Scientific Primary Research Papers and Reviews (with example):
Authors (surname, initial). Year. Title. Name of the journal, Volume no, pages X-Z
Kaessmann H., Wiebe V., Weiss G., Paabo S. 2001. Great ape DNA sequences reveal a reduced diversity and an expansion in humans. Nature Genetics, 27, pp 155-156
For Books (with example): Authors (or, alternatively, editors) (year) Title. City: Publisher
Cavalli-Sforza L.L., Menozzi P., Piazza P. 1994. The History and Geography Figure 1 of Human Genes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
For Vancouver referencing style please see the Lecture slides on how to write an essay.
The issue of Plagiarism
It is departmental policy to fail anyone caught deliberately plagiarising someone else’s work. Intentional plagiarism is blatantly obvious and do not believe you’ll be the one brilliant exception to cheat the system – especially since we are using turnitin for all submissions. Please be careful in making sure you reference your sources properly (see below). Accidental plagiarism happens, so please take some extra time and make sure you have referenced properly (that includes figures, graphs and tables!).
The self-review form is a checklist of common errors and essay requirements for the Term Essay. The basic idea of it is that if you tick “YES” to every point, you hopefully will avoid making some basic errors. The self-review is completely optional, but it should give you a clearer idea what is required in an essay and is therefore highly recommended.
3) Submission of Frist Draft, Peer Review and Final draft
The first draft of your essay is due. The essay has to be submitted via Tunitin on the Moodle page (“Term Essay” tab). Please avoid putting your name on the draft of your essay, otherwise your peer review will not be anonymous. Upload the essay as a .doc or .docx file, otherwise there is a risk your essay submission cannot be read.
After the deadline for the first draft has past, you will be randomly assigned an essay produced by one of your peers. You are required to give an assessment of the essay. Read the essay carefully and answer the questions assigned (what was good about the essay, what was less good about the essay and how it can be improved). All peer review is done anonymously. Details of the peer review will be provided once the assignment starts. The deadline for the peer review assignment is
This method of peer review is analogous to how scientists peer review scientific papers. A paper is submitted by an author and is anonymously reviewed by other scientists. The reviewers provide feedback on the paper, which can be used (or even ignored) by the authors.
At the end of the peer review assignment, you will be able to view feedback on your essay from your own peers. You will have a week to improve your essay. At the end of the essay attach the feedback that you received from your peer. You then have to say how you responded to the feedback. Did you agree with their recommendations and make the said change? Did you disagree with their viewpoint? If you disagree it is important to say why. The response to the feedback is necessary to pass the assignment. If you do not include the peer review and your response to it in the final draft, it would be classified as a significant error.
Please upload the final draft in the format of .docx or .doc. The final draft is due Monday 14th March, 1600. Again, do not include your name or any ID on the essay itself.
4) How are the final drafts marked?
The course organiser and PhD PGTAs will then mark the essays themselves. Please note there are 677 students on this course, but I will try my best to have this complete within a month of the final deadline.
The mark scheme for the Essay is covered in the “How to Write an Essay” lecture and has been added to the ‘Term Essay’ tab.
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