7 x 1-hour tutorials per semester
1 x 1-hour workshop weekly
5 x 4-hour practicals per semester
6 x 2-hour computer labs per semester
Enrolment not permitted
1 of BIOL3771, BIOL9004, BTEC9650 has been successfully completed
Assumed knowledge
Second year undergraduate level molecular biology.
Course context
Students who attain less than 85% in the Aptitude test are directed to enrol in BTEC8002 Molecular Biotechnology.
Assignment(s), Practical Work, Test(s)
Topic description
In this topic students will learn fundamental concepts about genes and genomics that form the core of current molecular approaches that are now used to study biological processes. Students will review the central dogma of molecular biology DNA to RNA to protein and then go on to explore in more detail how gene expression is controlled. In addition students will learn more about basic tools of recombinant DNA and how these are applied to solve interesting biological problems in human medicine, forensic science and the biotechnology industry. Finally students will learn the fundamentals of whole genome sequencing, how the human genome was sequenced and will also review bioinformatics and experimental approaches to make use of sequence data. Students will also have the opportunity to apply their knowledge in practical laboratory exercises.
Educational aims
The aims of this topic are:

  1. To familiarise students with recombinant DNA technology and how it is applied to gene discovery and understanding more about the function of genes and proteins. A particular emphasis will be placed on the Human genome project and how in recent years we have moved to study genes and gene interactions on more global scale and how bioinformatics had aided this
  2. To further develop students' scientific skills for work in a molecular biology laboratory
  3. To further develop students' generic skills in the areas of accurate record keeping (attention to detail), creativity and problem-solving, independence, using online resources, communication to scientific and non-scientific audiences and critical thinking.
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Develop an advanced understanding of the concepts of molecular biology: from the processes and regulation of DNA structure, gene transcription and translation
  2. Develop an advanced knowledge and understanding of DNA and genomics techniques of the past and the present including those used for DNA and genome sequencing and newly emerging sequencing techniques. This includes acquiring a greater appreciation for how these techniques are used to diagnose and understand the pathology of human diseases, to develop new disease treatments and underpin approaches to personalised medicine
  3. Have a greater appreciation of the role bioinformatics and information technology have played in genomics research
  4. Improve their awareness and gain more extensive hands-on experience in the principles of database searching, using search engines, sequence alignments, and molecular phylogeny using web-based and stand-alone bioinformatics programs
  5. Improve their understanding of the inherent challenges in working with biological materials and greater awareness of the use of appropriate controls to detect and correct for confounding factors
  6. Maintain a laboratory notebook such that others can reproduce their work. This includes the presentation of experimental results in tables and figures in the laboratory note book and preparing figures in a format suitable for publication in a scientific journal
  7. Develop further their skills in independent and team based laboratory work and their practical skills in handling and manipulating DNA
  8. Enhance their critical thinking skills in interpreting, summarizing and placing genomic and DNA based research in context and presenting data and scientific ideas, in writing, and communication to scientific and non-scientific audiences.