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Unit information: Agricultural Biotechnology in 2021/22

Unit name Agricultural Biotechnology
Unit code BIOL31129
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Foster
Open unit status Not open

None, but we recommend that students should normally have taken BIOL20008 Plant Disease.



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

Description including Unit Aims

Agriculture has gone through some major changes through the history of man, and it is said that one of the biggest revolutions is currently underway with the application of biotechnology to crop production. However, as well as attracting attention because of the claimed benefits of this technology, this area of science has also attracted some of the greatest media attention and public interest of any branch of science in recent years. This unit will cover a number of specific examples of the application of biotechnology in agriculture such as, the production of novel products in plants (for example industrial and pharmaceutical proteins), the generation of transgenic plants resistant to pathogen attack, and improved yield and quality of crops. The unit will try and explain why biotechnology is seen to be needed in agriculture, as well as discussing some of the ethical and biosafety issues which surround this area of science.


To cover a number of specific examples of the application of biotechnology in agriculture.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of the unit, students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the scientific mechanisms of plant breeding, molecular plant pathology and other areas of molecular biology/genetic engineering as well as an awareness of the ethical/moral debate.

Teaching Information

Lectures, directed reading, research and/or problem-solving activities; and independent study.

Assessment Information

Summative written assessment, with one essay question to be selected from a choice of two.


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. BIOL31129).

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.