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Unit information: Molecular Tools in Stem Cells and Regeneration in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Molecular Tools in Stem Cells and Regeneration
Unit code CSSBM1013
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Uney
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit will describe the powerful molecular techniques used to investigate: (i) the processes governing the control of cell fate specification and differentiation, (ii) regenerative signalling cascades. Students will also be encouraged to consider the ethical implications of using stem cells and gene therapy techniques as therapeutics. Key points that will be covered include:

  • Current methods in molecular and stem cell biology – e.g. gene cloning and analysis to study stem cell differentiation.
  • Genomics, transcriptomics and comparison proteomic approaches
  • The regulation of gene expression: e.g. by microRNAs, transcription factors and physiological cues
  • Manipulating gene expression to study the events controlling stem cell differentiation: E.g. Using Gene transfer/knockdown techniques
  • Identifying pathways that mediate Regeneration: e.g. the application of genomic and proteomic techniques to investigate human neurological disease
  • Gene therapy approaches
  • To equip the student with a comprehensive understanding of the latest molecular techniques used to investigate stem cell biology and the pathways controlling regenerative processes.
  • To encourage the students to critically evaluate the merits and disadvantages of the different approaches.

Intended learning outcomes

Students successfully completing this module will:

  • Be up to date with the latest molecular techniques used to investigate gene function in stem cells and the CNS
  • Be able to critically evaluate the advantages and limitations of the different approaches.
  • Understand how these techniques can be used to facilitate cell based and gene therapy approaches

Teaching details

  • Web-based Audio Lectures and Seminars.
  • Web-based tutorials/practicals
  • Self-directed study
  • On-line discussion forums

Assessment Details

Summative Assessment:

  • Coursework (contributing a total of 60% to the module).
  • 5 sets of multiple choice questions (MCQ) of a simple format (e.g. select an answer from a short number of options, true/false) each contributing 5% to module giving a total of 25%.
  • 1x essay contributing 20% to module
  • 3x short answer question sets or extended MCQs each contributing 5% to module giving a total of 15%

Please note that students will be given formative feedback on all coursework assessment where appropriate.

  • Written Exams (contributing a total of 40% to the module and taken in Bristol)
  • Essay paper - contributing 27%
  • MCQ paper – contributing 13%

Contribution reflects time spent in each exam (2hrs essay, 1hr MCQ).

The pass-mark for the module will be 50%. However students will be required to reach a minimum standard in both their coursework and their written exam. As such only 5% compensation between the total coursework element and the total exam element will be allowed.

Reading and References

For each lecture, seminar, tutorial students will be given a reading list composed of journal and review articles, websites and book chapters. Due to the novelty of this field and the postgraduate nature of this programme we do not feel there are suitable textbooks to recommend for this module.