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Unit information: Molecular Methodology for Biologists in 2015/16

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Unit name Molecular Methodology for Biologists
Unit code BIOL20005
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Dr. Lazarus
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The techniques of genetic engineering are used not only in the realms of biotechnology but also across the spectrum of modern biological investigations. Molecular genetics certainly underpins, for example, investigations into plant and animal development, but it can also be used to analyse population structures within ecosystems, and hence to inform a conservation strategy. Stressing practical applications rather than theoretical background, this unit teaches the basic techniques of molecular genetics. Topics covered will include gene isolation via library construction and screening, gene expression in native and foreign hosts and the derivation and use of molecular markers in taxonomic and population studies. While designed to complement interests in all areas of biology, this unit will provide a secure grounding for more advanced courses involving molecular biology and biotechnology, as well as practical projects using molecular methodology.


  • to complement interests in all areas of biology
  • to provide a secure grounding for more advanced courses involving molecular biology and biotechnology,
  • to provide a secure grounding for practical projects using molecular methodology.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • On successful completion of this unit students will be familiar with the techniques of molecular genetics.
  • They will have gained a basic knowledge of how genes are isolated and characterised and how they can be put to use in biotechnology, as well as in basic biological research.
  • Understanding of the techniques that underpin genetic engineering will allow students to critically assess scientific issues of contemporary public interest.

Teaching Information

  • 3 x 1 hour weekly lectures in weeks 1-5,
  • 2 x 3 hour practicals per week in weeks 2 and 4 or in weeks 3 and 5; includes viewing 2 video clips in first session.
  • 1 x 1 hour Clinic in weeks 2 – 5 (non-compulsory)
  • Practical test for all students in week 6, followed by (non-compulsory) feedback session (presentation of test answers) later in week.
  • 1 x 2-3 hour exam revision session (non-compulsory)

Self-directed learning week (week 6). Students are expected to spend this time reconciling lecture notes with text-book descriptions of techniques

Assessment Information

Continuous assessment (40%): test, based on practical experiments, at the beginning of the self directed learning week; written examination (60%).

Reading and References

From Genes to Genomes: Concepts and Applications of DNA Technology, 3rd Edition

Jeremy W. Dale, Malcolm von Schantz, Nicholas Plant
December 2011, ©2012

£31.99 published by Wiley.