Skip to main content

Unit information: General Laboratory Techniques 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 General Laboratory Techniques
Unit code SOCSM0008
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Bond
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit will introduce theoretical aspects and practical details of laboratory methods that are highly relevant to translational cardiovascular medicine research. The following techniques will be discussed: analysis of gene function (via approaches such as siRNA gene silencing and synthetic inhibitors), gene transfer (plasmid and viral based), analysis of gene transcription (via qPCR), analysis of gene expression (via Western blotting and ELISA), immunocytochemistry and immunohistochemistry (light, fluorescent and confocal microscopy and quantification), cell analysis using FACS, analysis of cell proliferation, migration/invasion and apoptosis, purification and culture of several relevant cell types, detection of polymorphisms and SNPs. Apart from providing a basic introduction to laboratory research methods this unit also importantly aims to provide an overview of essential skills experimental design such as choice of negative and positive controls, and biological and experimental replicates.

Intended learning outcomes

Students successfully completing this module will be able to:

  • Discuss the theoretical principles of main research methods relevant and applicable to translational cardiovascular medicine.
  • Recognize the suitability and current limitations of various methods for research in translational cardiovascular medicine.

Teaching details

  • Web-based lectures, tutorials and practical demonstrations (in powerpoint-with-audio format)
  • Online discussion forum(s)
  • Self-directed study
  • Hands-on practical workshops held in Bristol.

Assessment Details

1. Coursework (contributing a total of 60% to the unit) consisting of:

  • 2 sets of multiple choice questions (MCQs) of a simple format (e.g. select an answer from a short number of options, true/false), each contributing 10% to the unit, giving a total of 20%.
  • 1 short essay contributing 20% to the unit.
  • 2 short answer question sets or extended MCQs, each contributing 10% to the unit, giving a total of 20%.

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

2. Written exam (contributing a total of 40% to the unit and taken in Bristol) consisting of:

  • 1 essay contributing 20% to the unit.
  • 1 sets of MCQs contributing 20% to the unit.

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

Reading and References

  1. Western Blotting: B.D. Hames and D. Rickwood. Gel Electrophoresis of Proteins: A Practical Approach 3rd Edition, The Practical Approach Series, Oxford University Press, 1998.
  2. Flow Cytometry : A Practical Approach, 3rd Edition. (Practical Approach Series). Edited by M.G. Ormerod. Oxford University Press (2000)
  3. Cell Proliferation and Apoptosis - D Hughes and H Mehmet (Eds)
  4. Microarray: Seo D, Ginsburg GS, Goldschmidt-Clermont PJ. Gene expression analysis of cardiovascular diseases: novel insights into biology and clinical applications. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Jul 18;48(2):227-35.
  5. Analysis of gene expression using qPCR: Stephen A. Bustin (2010) Why the need for qPCR publication guidelines?—The case for MIQE. Methods 50 (2010) 217–226
  6. siRNA mediated gene silencing: Lars Aagaard, John J. Rossi (2007) RNAi therapeutics: Principles, prospects and challenges. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 59 (2007) 75–86.