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Unit information: Gene expression and rearrangement in 2015/16

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Unit name Gene expression and rearrangement
Unit code MOLG22200
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Szczelkun
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit covers the processes involved in maintaining and expressing the genetic material of microorganisms, plants and animals, as well as the molecular genetic basis of a number of important disease states, and the use of molecular techniques for the detection and treatment of genetic diseases. Topics covered include: DNA-protein interactions; mechanisms of DNA replication, recombination and repair; eukaryotic and prokaryotic gene expression; protein synthesis; generation of immune diversity by rearrangement of immunoglobulin genes; molecular genetics of disease (e.g. cancer and AIDS); plant molecular genetics; medical molecular genetics. 35 lectures are supplemented with five practical sessions and three tutorials. Assessment is by sessional examination (85%), assessed exercises associated with the tutorials (10%) and laboratory reports (5%). Some prior knowledge of molecular biology (eg equivalent to Biochemistry 1G) is recommended.

The main aims of this Unit are to provide students with a good understanding of (i) the mechanisms by which prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells replicate, repair and express their genetic material, and (ii) the importance of these processes in diseased and healthy cells. Further aims are to provide you with practical experience in a range of relevant laboratory techniques, and to improve your ability to critically assess experimental data.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes: knowledge and understanding

Upon completion of this course you should understand, and be able to explain:

  1. how and why proteins interact with DNA;
  2. how DNA is replicated and repaired;
  3. the mechanisms of DNA recombination, and the importance of this process;
  4. how genes are transcribed and translated, and the mechanisms by which these processes can be controlled in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms;
  5. the molecular basis of a range of diseases, including cancer, AIDS and haemoglobinopathies.

Learning outcomes: Skills

Upon completion of this course you should have acquired the skills necessary to:

  1. undertake experiments in molecular genetics using modern laboratory apparatus;
  2. interpret experimental data relating to the processes described in the course;
  3. present experimental work in a clear and concise written report.

Teaching Information

Lectures, tutorials and practicals

Assessment Information

Continual assessment:

15% of the total marks for the unit are awarded on the basis of assessment exercises. Thus 5% of the final assessment mark is awarded for a data-handling exercise, 5% is awarded for the combined mark for two assessed essays, and 5% is awarded for the combined mark for practical write-ups.

Sessional exam:

85% of the total marks for each unit are awarded for performance in the sessional examination in May/June, which will consist of one 2.5-hour paper. The paper is split into two sections: the first section (40% of marks) will comprise 50 multiple choice questions (MCQs); the second section (60% of marks) will contain six essay questions of which candidates will be asked to answer two, each carrying equal marks.

Reading and References

"Molecular Biology of the Gene" 6th ed. (2008) by J. Watson et al. (Pearson)


"Genomes 3". (2006) by T.Brown (Garland Science)


"Lewin’s Genes X" (2009), by J Krebs et al. (Jones & Bartlett).