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 4 x 3 hour workshops, including timed assessments


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Assessed Workshop practicals in application of theories (restriction mapping, PCR, bioinformatics)  40%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   Theory paper  60%
Supplementary Assessment 3 Hours   Candidates must retake elements of assessment equivalent to those which lead to failure of module  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1) provide an account of prokaryotic and eukaryotic gene structure and the mechanisms controlling gene expression;

2) explain the various techniques available to study genomes, genes and gene products;

3) give an overview of biotechnology applications utilising genetic manipulation;

4) discuss basic bioinformatics techniques for analysis of DNA sequence data.

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. The module will cover theories of gene structure/gene expression, manipulation of nucleic acids, construction of genetic maps, gene cloning and functional analysis, introductory genomics and genome sequencing, production of transgenic plants and animals, and an introduction to bioinformatics. The module also covers real world application of these areas within a biotechnology framework.


Gene Structure & Expression: This section of the course focuses on DNA replication, the structure of genes, mRNA processing in eukaryotes, control of transcription and translation. This is developed further as part of the assessed workshop on bioinformatics.

Manipulating DNA: This topic builds upon, and adds to, theoretical and applied techniques including amplification of DNA via polymerase chain reaction, restriction digestion of DNA, enzymatic manipulation of DNA and basic cloning. Students are also taught the use of restriction digests to create simple genetic maps. Application of theory surrounding PCR experimental design and restriction mapping form part of assessed workshop practicals.
Gene Library Construction, Sequencing & Screening: This section covers the construction of cloned DNA libraries in greater depth, as well as strategies for screening libraries for particular DNA fragments. Students are also taught the theories surrounding sequencing of both individual DNA fragments and high-throughput (next-generation) sequencing.

Gene Transfer Technology: Students are taught strategies and theories regarding the construction of transgenic delivery vectors and systems for production of genetically-modified plants or animals, as well as biotechnological applications.

Genomics: This section of the course covers an introduction to the concept of genomes and genomic technologies, including the construction of genomic maps, genome sequencing strategies, use of model genomes (human, mouse, yeast, Arabidopsis) and comparative genomics.

Bioinformatics: This section will teach the students basic bioinformatics skills, enabling them to query databases of genetic information (i.e. GenBank), obtain DNA sequences and perform structural/motif analysis to identify coding regions and calculate transcribed mRNA and translate this into protein sequence. This includes assessed workshop practicals allowing the students to review the theories taught earlier in the course within a bioinformatic context.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number The bioinformatics workshop will require students to work with likelihood values (for example, BLAST e-values) and understand their significance.
Communication Listening skills for the lectures and subsequent discussions. Effective written communication will be developed and assessed in examinations.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to use research materials, manage time and meet deadlines. The directed study elements will provide opportunity for students to explore their own learning styles and preferences and identify their needs and barriers to learning. Students are given formative feedback on problem-solving exercises within the workshop sessions designed to aid their development and understanding of the material.
Information Technology The students will be required to access online databases such as ISI Web of Knowledge, PubMed and Google Scholar to find primary literature. Training in bioinformatics includes use of internet-based DNA sequence databases and online analysis tools. These are basic skills that will be required of most postgraduate careers involving genetic analysis.
Personal Development and Career planning This module conveys theoretical and applied skills which are critical for a career in any area of biological science with a basic or fundamental molecular component.
Problem solving Assessed workshop exercises in restriction mapping, PCR technique/experimental design and bioinformatics. These are basic skills that will be common to most laboratory-based postgraduate biology careers.
Research skills Key research skills are developed by training in the theory and application of molecular biology techniques. Students also receive grounding in obtaining resources for bioinformatic analysis via database query.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work


This module is at CQFW Level 5