Skip to main content

Unit information: Gene Expression in the Brain in 2021/22

Unit name Gene Expression in the Brain
Unit code MEDIM7003
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Murphy
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The sequencing of the human genome is one of the greatest achievements of our civilization. We now know that to make a human being requires about 30,000 genes; fewer than we expected, but still quite a lot. The next step is to find out what all of these genes do in terms of the integrated functions, and importantly, the inevitable dysfunctions, of the human organism. We already have the basic gene manipulation and analysis technologies to do this, and, in the coming years, their industrial scale application will provide humanity with a detailed understanding, and hence control, of its physical destiny.

The Aim of this Unit is to equip the student with an understanding of these developments. Students will be fully cognizant of the latest discoveries in the area of molecular biology and gene regulation in the brain.

The following areas will be covered:

  1. Basic nucleic acid and protein biochemistry
  2. Methods in molecular biology - gene cloning and analysis
  3. Genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics
  4. Gene regulation in mammalian cells
  5. The regulation of gene expression by cell specific and physiological cues
  6. Manipulating the mammalian genome - transgenic mammals and gene knockouts
  7. Somatic gene transfer, viral vectors
  8. Gene therapy
  9. The application of the above to the study of complex biological systems such as learning and memory.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of this unit the student will have a basic knowledge of the field of genetics in neuroscience and will be able to discuss current and anticipated research at the frontiers of the subject.

Further, the student will be encouraged to develop their critical abilities by participation in tutorials and through their private study and reading, which will be assessed through the Unit assessment.

Teaching Information

This unit is taught in a blended way and will consist of in-person taught sessions, structured online learning sessions and independent learning. The sessions include lectures, tutorials and a practical class. The practical class may be taught in-person or as an online demonstration with associated tutorials.

Assessment Information

This unit is assessed through a combination of a practical and theoretical timed open-book assessment (total contribution of 30%) and an exam (total contribution of 70%).


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. MEDIM7003).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.