Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 3 x 1 hour lectures per week
Other 5 x 3 hour workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Practical Exercise: Continuous assessment of practical work  30%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   One 3-hour theory paper  70%
Supplementary Assessment One 3-hour theory paper (plus resubmission of failed coursework or an alternative) 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
provide an account of prokaryotic and eukaryotic gene structure and the mechanisms controlling gene expression;
provide an account of the various techniques available to study genomes, genes and gene products;
provide an overview of biotechnology applications utilising genetic manipulation


This module is needed to develop the basic concepts and understanding of molecular biology learnt in the first year. Knowledge of (and skills in) these areas are crucial for a future career in life sciences. This more advanced course in part 2 will provide enhanced opportunities for developing a secure skills base for students in their third year. This module is a most welcome addition to IBS's portfolio and it will have significant impact on the potential employability of our students

Brief description

Molecular Biology is concerned with understanding biological processes at the molecular level. This module develops a better understanding of the many molecular methodologies that are utilized in current research. This module will therefore deepen the students understanding of molecular biological processes and the techniques available to study them. A detailed account will be provided of how gene expression operates and of the available methods for studying and manipulating both DNA, gene transcripts and translation products. These concepts will be broadened out to describe methods for studying whole genomes using model systems. Methodologies for the creation of transgenic organisms will also be provided. Students will also gain practical experience in the design and interpretation of experiments involving the analysis of DNA to study gene structure, and, gain some basic experience in transgenic plant technology to study gene expression.


The module will focus on the following key topics.

1) Fundamental molecular biological processes

i) Enzymology of DNA replication
ii) DNA repair
iii) Gene structure and RNA synthesis in prokaryotes
iv) mRNA processing in eukaryotes
v) Control of transcription and translation

2) Analysing DNA, transcripts and proteins

i) Polymerase chain reaction
ii) Restriction enzymes and DNA modification enzymes
iii) DNA sequencing
iv) Gene foot-printing technologies to define DNA/protein interactions
v) Techniques for measuring transcript levels
vi) Protein analysis

3) Gene library, construction, screening and DNA sequencing

i) DNA cloning vectors and methodologies
ii) Generating copy DNA and cDNA libraries
iii) Bacteriophage cloning and genomic libraries
iv) Gene fusion and expression vectors

4) Genomics

i) Introduction to genomics
ii) Genome sequencing strategies
iii) Model organisms
iv) Comparative genomics
v) Study of chromosomes, FISH, GISH

5) Transgenic technology and example applications

i) Gene transfer vectors for plants
ii) Generation of transgenic plants using tissue culture
ii) Concept of marker genes and reporter gene technologies
iii) Transgenic plants in agriculture
iv) Generation of transgenic animals
v) Gene therapy
6) Workshops
The practical component of the module will focus on workshops aiming to provide experience in design of PCR experiments, DNA mapping by restriction digestion and examination of DNA sequence to evaluate gene structure. There will be some opportunity to use tissue culture to generate transgenic plant cells and investigate the activity of reporter genes.


This module is at CQFW Level 5