1. Taught Programmes
The School offers two taught programmes: Bachelorís and Masterís Degree in Biotechnology. Both these programmes are full time and normally extend for 12 months. The Bachelorís degree course is a three year course and each year is followed by an annual exam. The masterís degree follows a semester pattern. There are four semesters. Each semester consists of two theory papers. Except the 4th semester, each semester also consists of a laboratory course. In the fourth semester, the students are expected to carry out project work in addition to the theory papers.
The entire curriculum in M. Sc. Biotechnology has been divided into distinct, discreet modules. It is normal that several related aspects get scattered into different papers when syllabi are designed. The modular structure is of immense help here inasmuch as these scattered topics get regrouped under a module.
As far as possible, a given module is assigned to a single teacher who specializes in it. This helps the teacher to foreplan his teaching strategy. Sometimes there can be additional teachers besides the principal teacher of the module. This becomes necessary when within a given module there are a few topics that have a promise of becoming full-blown disciplines in future. In such cases those teachers who specialize in that micro-subject are called upon to elaborate the topic.
Normally, no more than two modules get taught at any given time. In circumstances where one cannot have many regular teachers, contributory teachers are the only answer. But assigning a period a day to a contributory teacher is not beneficial to the students. The concerned teacher engages the class and has no time for the difficulties of the students because another teacher may be waiting in the wings for his hour. Modular teaching (and restricting the number of simultaneous modules to a maximum of two) addresses this problem squarely. Since only two modules are getting done, the contributory teacher tends to spend more time in the premises and is available to the students and interacts with them.
The timetable is processive rather than distributive - there are four clear theory days and two clear practical days. On theory days only theory gets done and on practical days only practicals get done. The advantages of this system are obvious as described below.
The theory teaching is heavily based on computers and internet. The department possesses twelve computers and a 24 hour ISDN access to the internet. After the formal theory periods are over, the student is required to sit on the computers and either assimilate the material available in discreet folders on the subject available on the computer disc or to search the net for additional/recent information on the subject. Not having practicals on the same day makes this exercise possible.
Several practicals demand long hours of involvement. Having two clear practical days makes this possible since right from the early hours of the morning, the practicals can begin.
Student participation in each module is a must. The module teacher is made to assign a micro-topic to each of the student. The student is expected to research the topic and prepare written material on the topic by the time the module is over. One or two of the students are asked to present the topic at the end of the module.
Each module is followed by an exam based on the module. The concerned module teacher sets the paper and examines the answer sheets.
Evaluation here is a continuous process. The internal evaluation system takes into consideration both, the written material/oral presentation and the marks obtained in the module exams.
3. Teaching Calendar.
The theory and practical classes have been crafted so that the B. Sc. courses should be over by the last week of February. The School has its own system of holidays. Long Diwali Holidays are avoided. This vacation is cut into two short holiday stretches. One stretch is around Dashahara (Puja) which lasts around seven days. Another stretch is around Diwali which lasts for seven more days. On all other days the classes and other activities go on as usual.
M. Sc. biotechnology follows a semester pattern. Thus, teaching calendar is split into two halves with a short stretch of vacation in between.
Over the years, the Department of Biochemistry (parent department of the Hislop School of Biotechnology) has produced several students who are currently doing great research in virtually all frontline institutes in India and abroad. These alumni have gladly offered their services to the cause of their alma mater. Seminars on their work are regularly arranged. Apart from this, Nagpur has several research institutes of repute. Scientists from these laboratories are also invited to shed more light on their work.
Occasionally, researchers from outside city are also invited to make students familiar with their work.