BIMBE2-Synthetic Biology

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Benjamin Neuman


Summary module description:
This module will teach students about the application of synthetic biology in the biomolecular sciences. The module will examine the current use of bioengineering technology in the area of human health. Building on the knowledge and skills developed in the Autumn term, this Spring term module will place particular emphasis on current research through discussion of the latest research papers to help convey mechanistic insights and enhance understanding.

To enable students to understand the ways that synthetic biology can lead to new therapeutic options.

Assessable learning outcomes:
At the end of the module students should have a clear concept of the techniques and limitations of synthetic biology. Students will have understood how directed evolution and library-based screening techniques can be used to select enzymes and single-chain antibodies of desired specificity. Students will also gain an understanding of the techniques used in recombinant and subunit vaccine design. Students will gain critical reasoning skills by discussion and analysis of recent publications of special importance to health or of exceptional scientific interest in this area.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:
This module will cover a variety of topics in synthetic biology, such as synthetic vaccine design and the application of genetic modification to disease resistance. There will be a special focus on the technology behind recent advances in gene therapy, including site-specific editing tools such as zinc finger nucleases and recombinases. The module will also introduce students to concepts in protein engineering as well as applications for techniques that make it possible to build enzymes and aptamers with desirable enzymatic or selective properties.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module will primarily be delivered by attendance at lectures and small group tutorials. The format will be that each of the lecture sessions will be supported by a group tutorial discussion and an assessed essay. Additionally, individual study will be required to review the literature in preparation for the tutorials and lectures, and to gain a wider familiarity with the subject matter.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Tutorials 20
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write five reports on current topics in synthetic biology. These will be turned in before the tutorial sessions where the papers will be discussed. These will be marked for scholarship and understanding and will each contribute 20% to the final mark.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
A reassessment essay title will be provided by the module convenor.

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: 21 December 2016

Things to do now