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Critical Appraisal of Introduction of GMO Animals in Farming


An evidence-based critical appraisal of your assigned topic (1500words) - state the word count at the end of your assignment. Reference list, tables and legends do not count towards the word count. References should be in any standard parenthetical or numerical format e.g. Harvard. (80% of the marks for this component).

A lay summary (e.appropriate for a general audience) of your critical appraisal (300 words) (20% of the marks for this component).

To gain experience of identifying, summarising and critically appraising a research question to:

  • Gain an understanding of hypothesis-driven research and its presentation in a variety of publication types (module learning outcome 1).
  • Know the desirable properties of research design and power and be able to critically assess literature in this context (module learning outcome 2).
  • Demonstrate an ability to find, appraise and disseminate scientific information (module learning outcome 3).
  • To be able to disseminate your findings in a concise and lay-friendly manner.

For assessments where a word limit is indicated, a student’s ability to write within the word limit is part of the assessment concerned. Where a word limit is indicated students should provide a final word count by highlighting all text included in the main body of the assessment (the main body of the assessment does not include the reference list) and simply stating that word count. The main body of the assessment includes: the title (if applicable), an abstract (if applicable), the main body of text (including any sub-titles), in text citations, direct quotations and case studies. In this assignment, tables, figures (including any table/figure titles), illustrations and footnotes do not count in the word count linit.

  • Under the word count: no penalty.In not making use of the full word count, students may have self-penalised their work, e.g. key points may have not been covered (in adequate detail). If students have been able to achieve the requirements of the assessment using fewer words than allocated, they will not be penalised.
  • Up to 10% over the word limit: no penalty. Situation flagged by tutor in feedback but over-run is tolerated and no deduction is made from the final mark.
  • More than 10% over the word limit: the marker will stop reading when they judge that the word count exceeds the indicative word limit by more than 10%. For example, for a 1500-word essay, the marker will read the first 1650 words and will indicate on the text where they stop reading. The content following this point will not be read and a mark will be awarded only for the content up to the indicated point.

Science does not always reach consensus, and frequently there are significant disagreements and areas of controversy. One part of becoming a successful post-graduate researcher is to be able to investigate a topic, identify the important information and to critically appraise the differing arguments, assess their impact and form evidence-based conclusions. One other very important aspect is scientific communication. As a scientist, this can be at many different levels – for example, you would present your work differently to a room of experts than you would to a room of non-scientists, and proficiency in both is highly valued by both employers and potential PhD supervisors.

This assessment tests the above skills. You will be given a subject-specific research area and you need to produce a report that summarises the current evidence, its future directions and any socio-ethical considerations.

The best assessments (those that will be awarded the highest marks) will be underpinned by a literature review to identify authoritative works on the subject before synthesising these to critically appraise the major issues you identify and then to report evidence-based conclusions that are supported by primary literature.

The report should be 1,500 words in length and the specific topic for investigation is given below. The assessment rubric is also provided for your reference. Make sure you consult the marking rubric to see where marks are awarded and think carefully about how you can plan your report to maximise your awarded marks. In particular, where appropriate, you should consider the potential impacts on humans and any ethical implications of current or future work.

Additionally, your task is to write a short lay summary that would be understandable by a non-specialist audience.

You should write a lay summary (300 words +/- 10%), suitable for a non-scientific audience, that covers the content of your critical appraisal. It should be suitable for publication in a UK national broadsheet newspaper such as The Times. This should be a clearly and simply written summary of the critical appraisal which explicitly sets out the challenges, potential solutions, and impact that this subject area may have on society.

MSc Biotechnology – Introduction of GMO animals in farming

Suggested format for critical appraisal


Give an appropriate informative title for your suggested topic, accurate and concise

Guideline 10-20 words


Introduce the reader to the area and to identify the key issues or question to be addressed

Guideline 400 words


State in one or two sentences the question(s) to be investigated.

Guideline 20-40 words


Describe the search strategy used to collect the evidence; describe the criteria used to include or exclude evidence.

Guideline 1-200 words


State the yield of the search strategy(ies). Show numbers of papers rejected at each stage. Show final numbers of studies included.

Guideline 200 words


Critically analyse the findings; the main argument is presented here. Draw conclusions from your analysis of the literature and draw an overall conclusion about the quality of the evidence - state the “best” answer to the question(s). Consider the wider impact on society and / or humanity, including any ethical considerations

Guideline 600 words


List five keywords describing the research topic


List references from the literature relevant to the research topic in Harvard format. All in list must be cited in text and all in text must be in list. Correct format and layout.

Give your word count

  • Make sure your summary would be suitable for understanding by the general public, using language appropriate for reading by a non-scientist reading a UK broadsheet newspaper – this should be easy to read.
  • Write in short, clear sentences and avoid complex sentence structure, using everyday English words where possible – avoid jargon!
  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling should be carefully checked
  • Write in the active voice (“I investigated new forms of antibiotic resistance”) rather than the passive voice (“New forms of antibiotic resistance were investigated”)
  • Sometimes, everyday examples and their potential impact can help to make a point.
  • The text should have an appropriate tone – do not write to entertain in this instance.
  • A relevant title should be included and the first sentence should give a brief introduction to the text
  • Order the text logically and introduce new ideas when they are required, try to avoid new ideas late in the text
  • Aims should be clear
  • Implications of conclusions should be addressed
  • Text should have the correct word count (300 words +/- 10%)

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