BIOL 6000

This course is composed of weekly seminars (typically from October through April of the academic year) that are presented by researchers from a variety of institutions (guest lectures) as well as by graduate students enrolled in the course. It constitutes one of the two required courses for graduate students in Biology. No exemptions will be given.


Guest lectures expose graduate students, faculty and staff to a wide range of research topics in Biology, and engage the group in the critical discussion that is part of the peer review process in science.

Graduate student seminars (for both MSc and PhD students) - provide the student with experience doing a critical review that includes preparing an annotated bibliography, an abstract and a presentation; presenting and receiving feedback on a research talk at the professional level; and evaluating peers on their presentations.

Graduate student seminars (for PhD students only – second seminar related to thesis) - inform graduate students, faculty, staff and honours students about research that is being done in the Department.


Attendance: Students must attend 80% of all Thursday morning seminars offered during the fall and winter semesters in the UNB Saint John Biology 6000 Seminar Series for the first two years (4 semesters, M.Sc. students) or three years (6 semesters, Ph.D. students) of their degree.

Seminars missed because of illness, field work, conferences, workshops, or personal reasons are counted in this 20%. The course coordinator (Dr. Heather Major) keeps track of attendance at the UNB Saint John seminars. 

Any missed seminars over and above the 20% must be made up by attending another scientific seminar at an academic or government institution (note that conference attendance also counts as a makeup seminar).

It is the student's responsibility to notify the course coordinator about how the missed seminars, over and above the 20% only, have been made up with an email (copied to the supervisor) that states the date, location, speaker and title of the presentation attended.

NOTE: Students who are carrying out their studies away from Saint John during September to April may attend (on a weekly basis) an alternate biology seminar series upon approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and the course coordinator (see below for current contacts). Examples of alternate series would be Biology 6000 at UNB Fredericton or a series at DFO St. Andrew's or DFO Moncton.

In the event that a student is permitted to attend another seminar series, her/his attendance is to be confirmed by her/his supervisor or co‑supervisor to the coordinator of the course, or to Director of Graduate Studies. In weeks in which an alternate seminar series is not available, Biology 6000 students are required to attend the Biology 6000 seminar on the Saint John campus. The same 80% attendance rule applies for off-campus students.

Students expecting to complete all their degree requirements in less than 2 (MSc) or 3 (PhD) years must plan ahead in order to complete the requirements, recording their intention on the Programme of Study form.  They will be required to present their critical review seminar at the end of their second term, and will be expected to have attended more than the minimum of 80% of the seminars during their programme.

Required presentations: M.Sc. students are required to present one seminar, and the Ph.D. students are required to present two seminars to meet the course requirements. The seminar for M.Sc. students and one of the seminars for the Ph.D. students is to be a critical review (see below) of a topic approved by their thesis supervisor.  The second seminar for the PhD students should be on their research. Generally, M.Sc. students give their seminars in year two of their studies and Ph.D. students will give their seminars in years two and three of their studies. 

Requirements for critical review: The critical review should be based around a question. This question can developed from a controversy over a certain topic in the literature but it can also be a non-controversial question. The subject of the review can be in an area that is closely related to the student’s thesis but it can also be on a non-related subject.  The student should discuss the topic and question with their supervisor prior to completing the annotated bibliography described below to make sure the subject is amenable to a critical review.

Format and evaluation

Seminar presentations will be between 30 and 40 minutes in length and will be followed by a question‑and‑answer period.

Seminars will be evaluated by the Biology 6000 Committee, which will consist of the Director of Graduate Studies, the Department Chair (or a representative), the course coordinator of Biology 6000, and a graduate student representative (as selected by the graduate students).

Alternates for committee members will be arranged when necessary to ensure a full complement of evaluators for each seminar. When applicable, the supervisor of a student presenting a seminar should absent her/himself from the committee by finding an alternate.

What to include in your presentation:

  • An introduction to the topic
  • Your question & objectives (intended goals for the presentation)
  • Your synthesis of the information/topic that includes data that are directly from publications OR have been re-analyzed by you from peer-reviewed papers, OR a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed papers.  You must show data and describe results, and comment on:
    • whether they are appropriate,
    • whether the authors’ conclusions are supported by the data, and
    • your independent assessment of what the authors said.
    • This may mean you will pick over the details of statistical analyses, or it will possibly lead to criticisms of inappropriate methodologies (experiments themselves) to address a particular side of an argument.
  • Importance/significance of findings to your question
  • Your supported original conclusions/summary about the question you asked that are based on the data you examined
  • If there isn’t a clear resolution, what are your recommendations for future research?
  • Sources of all photos and graphs must be shown
  • Reference list

Your final mark for this course is a pass or fail, not a letter or number grade.


The seminar schedule (fall 2016, winter 2016) will be arranged by the course coordinator in the spring or summer of the academic year(s) in which students are required to present. The course coordinator will contact the students scheduled to present in that academic year to arrange the date for their seminar.  The seminars typically start in early October and the first class will be an orientation for the students that are giving a seminar that fall or winter.