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Study information


Module titleGenetics
Module codeBIO1411
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor Chris Bass (Lecturer)

Professor Richard ffrench-Constant (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

From genes to genetics. What did Mendel and Darwin not know? Find out in this lecture course that takes us all the way from the structure of genes to how they behave in natural populations.

Learn about current applications for genetics and DNA sequencing in a series of special lectures on butterfly mimicry and bacterial genetics.

Practise your newfound knowledge in a series of practicals ranging from Polymerase Chain Reaction to virtual genetics.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module introduces you to core concepts in genetics. Genetics is fundamental to any understanding of the biosciences and underpins any Single Honours degree in the subject. The module also aims to provide you with the basic information on cell and molecular mechanisms that will enable you to take Stage 2 and 3 modules in the Cell and Molecular Sciences.

The module will give you career-relevant skills in Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology which are both rapidly expanding employment opportunities. The module will also expose you to research-led teaching by using real examples from ongoing research in our department and others. Genetics research involving staff members in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation will be highlighted.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Illustrate how information is stored and expressed in cells, including understanding the differential roles of genes and the environment on expression of a phenotype
  • 2. Analyse the effects of major genes by inspection of phenotypes and demonstrate an understanding of the molecular basis of variation and mutation, of natural genetic recombination, and of genetic analysis and its importance in biology
  • 3. Explain the behaviour of genes in populations
  • 4. Illustrate a knowledge and understanding of genetics

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Describe essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of biosciences
  • 6. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples into written work
  • 7. Identify and implement, with some guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing a specific research problem in biosciences
  • 8. With guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within biosciences
  • 9. Describe and begin to evaluate approaches to our understanding of biosciences with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Develop, with guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound conclusions
  • 11. Communicate ideas, principles and theories using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 12. Collect and interpret appropriate data and undertake straightforward research tasks with guidance
  • 13. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to professional and practical skills identified by others
  • 14. Reflect on learning experiences and summarise personal achievements
  • 15. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

Lectures will cover:

  • The discovery of DNA and RNA; structure of bases, nucleotides and polynucleotides; evidence for function of DNA as genetic material; evidence for DNA structure; implications of DNA structure; general structure of RNA; survey of types of RNA; general aspects of RNA synthesis; the genetic code; synthesis and processing of mRNA; rRNA and ribosomes; tRNA.
  • The differences between phenotype and genotype, and the way in which phenotype is affected by both genetic and environmental effects.
  • The analysis of major genetic differences in eukaryotes, including linkage, sex linkage and epistasis. The statistical analysis of segregation ratios.
  • Extrachromosomal inheritance.
  • Population genetics: the concept of the gene pool and the Hardy-Weinberg law; changes in gene frequency by selection and drift; neutral and Darwinian evolution; speciation.

Practical sessions will reinforce concepts covered in lectures, emphasising the nature of scientific enquiry.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures – covering material including DNA, chromosomes, genomes, gene expression, patterns and principles of inheritance, replicating the genome, recombinant DNA technology, sex determination, the genetics of complex characters and conservation genetics.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching9 Laboratory practicals – including an introduction to DNA sequencing and polymerase chain reaction (3 x 3 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching11Online forums
Guided independent study108Additional reading and research for examinations and for problem sets that will be completed in tutorial groups

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions during lectures and practical sessionsOngoing throughout the moduleAllOral
Group problem set (students work in small groups on up to six short questions and submit a collaborative answer)One set of six short questions1-12, 15Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
MCQ examination601 hour1-12Model answers
Genetics Poster40A31-12Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
MCQ examinationMCQ examination1-12August assessment period
Genetics PosterGenetics Poster1-12August assessment period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) and more than one of its assessments you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Campbell NA, Reece JB (2008) Biology, 8th Ed. Pearson. ISBN 0-321-53616-7/0-321-53616-9

Other reading:

  • Russell, PJ (2006) iGenetics: A Mendelian Approach, Benjamin Cummings; ISBN 1405854677

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE page:

Key words search

Genetics, DNA, RNA, chromosomes, polymerase chain reaction, sequencing, proteins, recombinant DNA technology, inheritance, genome, sex determination, evolution and conservation genetics

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date