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Molecular Genetics - BIO00052I

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  • Department: Biology
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Betsy Pownall
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

How complex multicellular organisms develop from a single fertilized egg is one of the key questions in biology. Understanding how cells become specialized and form functioning tissues, organs and whole organisms informs our understanding of human genetic disorders as well as cancer and the module will focus on genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that regulate animal development. It will also discuss the highly conserved nature of developmental mechanisms and explore how the environment can influence phenotype through epigenetic modifications. Throughout the module there will be an emphasis on the experimental approaches taken to elucidate developmental pathways and to understand gene function.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The module aims to show how molecular genetics, in combination with other experimental approaches, can be used to elucidate key mechanisms in developmental biology. Workshop and practical sessions will encourage and enable students to solve novel problems regarding gene function in development. The content will draw on aspects of stem cell biology, gene expression control, cell signalling and embryology and will therefore prepare students for various Stage 3 modules.

Module learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this module will be able to:

Describe the molecular genetic and epigenetic mechanisms regulating development.

Discuss how knowledge of the conserved mechanisms regulating development has been important for understanding the genetic basis of some human diseases.

Interpret experimental evidence related to gene function, epigenetic regulation and genetic disorders.

Understand how a toolkit of techniques can be used to investigate gene function and apply this knowledge to design experiments to address problems related to development of multicellular organisms.

Critically assess novel data from primary research papers


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Online exam: Molecular Genetics
6 hours 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Online exam: Molecular Genetics
6 hours 100

Module feedback

Marks for all summative assessments will be made available to you and your supervisor via e:vision. Feedback will be either individual or cohort-level, depending on the assessment format. You should take the opportunity to discuss your marks and feedback with your supervisor.

For exam-style summative assessment, model answers will be provided for all questions along with cohort-level feedback indicating how students answered questions in general. Marks achieved per question will be added to your script.

For coursework assessments (eg. reports or essays) you will receive individual feedback on your work. This will usually be in the form of a feedback sheet that will include suggestions for further improvement.

During the teaching of the module you will receive formative feedback that may be at a whole class or individual level. Such feedback may include: model answers and discussion of workshop questions, summaries of performance in practicals, VLE-based quizzes, individual spoken comments during workshops, individual written comments on formative work.

Indicative reading

These are available through the VLE module site.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.