BI2BMG4-Molecular Genetics

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Building Blocks of Life – Pt 1
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Eva Kevei


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module extends understanding obtained in the Part 1 Building Blocks module on gene organisation, expression and control, and the methods used to study gene function. The module considers how chromosomes are organised and replicated, and how genes are expressed and regulated. We also provide understanding of and experience with the tools used to analyse genes and their encoded proteins at the molecular level using bioinformatic approaches and laboratory experiment.


The main aim of this course is to give students an in-depth understanding of molecular genetics that underlies the majority of modern biological research. The module will cover both the concepts and some applications of molecular genetics in the study of processes in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms.

The module aims:

1. To provide an appreciation of the mechanisms involved in the control of gene expression in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes.

2. To give an overview of new genetic technologies that advance our understanding of genetic mechanisms and to develop understanding of the major concepts used by these applications.

3. To provide students with hands-on experience and understanding in some of the main procedures used in recombinant DNA technology and protein expression work, through performing laboratory exercises

4. To provide an illustration of the link between experimentation and scientific knowledge.

5. To introduce students to important bioinformatics tools used to study gene and protein function.

6. To provide students with the analytical skills required to experimental design, data analysis and interpretation.

Assessable learning outcomes:

1. Comprehend the manner in which chromosomes are organised, structured and replicated.

2. Describe the mechanisms gene expression control for classic bacterial and eukaryotic exemplars.

3. Understand the processes of gene expression in eukaryotes and prokaryotes.

4. Compare and contrast the mechanisms employed for control of gene expression in eukaryote as opposed to prokaryote systems.

5. Comprehend a range of experimental technologies and current topics in molecular genetics.

6. Understand the use of bioinformatics as a tool in examining nucleotide and amino acid sequence data. 

7. The ability to perform and analyse the results of key methods in molecular genetics; to understand the principles of such methods.

Additional outcomes:
1.To develop skills in bioinformatics.
2.Develop problem solving skills in molecular genetics during tutorial sessions.
3.Students will have developed their team-working skills and have a deeper understanding of molecular biology through the application of practical approaches.

Outline content:

1. Chromosome and chromatin structure

2. The process of DNA replication 

3. The basal transcription machinery in prokaryotes and eukaryotes

4. The involvement of chromosome structure in gene expression

5. The involvement of protein-nucleic acid interactions in control of gene expression

6. Response of genes to external stimuli illustrated by appropriate examples and the mechanisms used to switch on and off genes to integrate the effects of varying stimuli

7. RNA processing

8. Introducing applications of the basic principles and techniques of molecular genetics in different fields from fundamental research to human medicine.

9. Bioinformatics analysis of gene function

10. Problem-solving studies of gene function using bioinformatics

11. Laboratory practical sessions: Molecular cloning and recombinant protein expression using methods of PCR, restriction digestion, transformation and bacterial expression of proteins.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
1.Most weeks will include two ~45-minute lectures.
2.Problem-solving tutorials or bioinformatic 'practical' sessions (assessed) may follow the lectures.
3.Required background reading/learning materials will form part of the assessed content of the module.
4.Two assessed Blackboard-based tests performed will be performed in students own time; these will be based upon the content of the module (to encourage revision and comprehension of the course).
5.In addition, there will be a series of assessed lab-based practical sessions where students will engage with a number of recombinant DNA techniques.
6.For lab-based practical sessions:
a.students will be expected to complete preparatory work beforehand and this will be assessed before the start of the module by a test,
b.lab-based practical work will be in carried out either individually or in groups of varying sizes depending on the task involved,
c.understanding gained will be assessed at the end of the practicals.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 19
Tutorials 5
Practicals classes and workshops 20
Supervised time in studio/workshop 4
Guided independent study 152
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Set exercise 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:
No examination

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:
Work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark.

Tutorial sessions

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    By examination in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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