Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Normally A or A/S level biology or its equivalent
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 19 x 1 hour lectures
Practical 3 x 2 hour practical sessions


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment of practical work  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   One 2-hour theory examination.  70%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   One 2-hour theory examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to

1. describe the basic transmission, structure and function of genetic material
2. identify, calculate and express solutions to numerical problems in quantitative genetics
3. label and complete diagrams of genetic processes
4. recognize and identify answers to questions on practical work


The course begins with the main principles of genetics in eukaryotes. Nuclear division at mitosis is considered in the context of the cell cycle, together with karyotypes and chromosome complements. Principles of independent segregation of different genes on different chromosomes, dominance and allelic interaction are taught using genetic crosses. The more complex behaviour of chromosomes during meiosis, especially the visible events leading to a reduction from the diploid to the haploid chromosome complement during gamete formation, is similarly used to explain the independent segregation of different allelic forms of the same gene on homologous chromosomes. Recombination resulting from the breakage and rejoining of DNA molecules is then introduced, and developed in terms of the behaviour and interaction of homologous chromosomes during meiosis. The concept of the chromosome as a linkage group is explored using linkage analysis in genetic crosses.

The structure of DNA is covered, and is followed by an overview of genes and proteins and the nature of the genetic code. Gene action is reviewed through transcription and translation. DNA replication and its relationship to the cell cycle and to chromosome structure and condensation during nuclear division are then dealt with. Change in the genetic material through mutation follows on from structure, including the molecular basis of gene mutation and its relation to alleles, and to phenotypes. Mutation frequency is considered, and there is also an introduction to chromosome mutation. The organisation of the genetic material into operons in prokaryotes follows, including some consideration of mobile genetic elements (plasmids, bacteriophages and transposons). Concepts of recombination and linkage in bacteria are introduced through consideration of genetic exchange mediated by transformation, transduction and conjugation.

Genes in populations is dealt with in eukaryotes, including the concept of gene frequencies, change in gene frequencies and micro-evolution. Concepts of sex-linked inheritance, quantitative genetics and modes of selection in eukaryotes are also developed. The module ends with an introduction to molecular genetics and recombinant DNA.

There are three practicals which complement the lectures. Aspects of the practical work are included in the theory examination paper.


The module aims to introduce students to the basic principles and concepts of Genetics. Emphasis is given to understanding, and to developing a conceptual framework based on the transmission, the structure and the function of the genetic material. Genetics is studied at different levels of organisation from the molecular, through cells and individuals, up to populations and to evolutionary changes. Eukaryote and prokaryote aspects are fully integrated into the course.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Collection and scrutiny of data in terms of quality and quantity. Data manipulation and interpretation.
Communication The production of balanced practical reports. Listening skills for the lectures and subsequent discussion in practical classes. Effective written communication in examinations.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to 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 will be able to review and monitor their progress and plan for improvement of personal performance.
Information Technology Accessing the web for information sources and using databases to find primary literature. Software packages required to produce practical reports.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will gain confidence in their ability to evaluate biological problems and objectively assess the quality of proposed solutions.
Problem solving Through the lectures students will become aware of the essential problem that faces all living organisms: how is genetic integrity maintained whilst generating sufficient genetic diversity to provide the raw material for evolutionary change. The principles of genetics are largely taught through problem solving exercises. Practical classes allow students to gain experience in designing, executing, interpreting data and writing-up assessed genetic experiments.
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the lecture material using both directed and independent study. Information from a variety of sources will be the object of scrutiny and comment. Practical classes will allow the development of key biological research skills at an early stage of their academic careers.
Subject Specific Skills Derivation of genetic maps from linkage data; abstraction of genetic concepts from numerical data
Team work Students will work in pairs during practical sessions. They will need to discuss their experimental design and work effectively as a small team in practical classes.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Campbell, N. and Reece, J. (2005) Biology 7th Benjamin Cummings Publishers Primo search
Reference Text
Jones, R.N. & Karp, A., Giddings, G.D.G. (2001) Essentials of Genetics John Murray Primo search Jones, R.N. & Rickards, G.K.R. (1992) Practical Genetics John Wiley & Sons Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4