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Molecular Biotechnology - BIO00061I

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  • Department: Biology
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Gavin Thomas
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

The Molecular Biotechnology module will give students the opportunity to learn how microbes, plants and mammalian systems are used for the production of biomolecules and their role in the natural turnover of biomass and soil health. This will cover a broad range of biomolecules being currently made using biological systems from the monosodium glutamate in your Chinese takeway and the Quorn in your burger, to the complex polymers used in cosmetics and antibiotics used in medicine. This also includes in-depth study of how recombinant proteins are made in diverse systems from bacteria, to algae, plants and cultured mammalian cells to make important drugs for human diseases including enzymes and monoclonal antibodies. After considering what biological organisms can make for us, we also then consider their essential roles in the breakdown of materials in the natural environment, which has important uses in biotechnology in bioremediation and the use of complex plant biomass to serve as a food for making many of the products we will have learnt about.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The course aims to provide practical examples of working methods being used in academia and industry for manufacturing products in biotechnology. To enable this students will be introduced progressivly to increasingly complex bioproducts and have some fundamental insight into how cells either naturally produce these or have been genetically engineered to do so. As the complexity increases, students will be able to compare and contrast different solutions and understand the scientific differences between the organisms used. For bioremediation and biomass breakdown, we aim to provide students with a clear overview of the challenges that still remain in deriving value from plant biomass.The module will be taught through face to face lectures, supplemented with additional on-line mini-lectures and formative workshops to reinforce learning.

Module learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this module will be able to:

Explain how a range of organic molecules are made in biotechnology

Appreciation of the choices required for producting active recombinant proteins

Describe how complex communties and microbes and plants can remove toxic chemicals in the soil and degrade plant biomass

Compare and contrast the pros and cons of using different organisms to produce different molecules in biotechnology

Design experimental plans to produce recombinant proteins of different complexity

Practical experience in using microbial and plants systems in molecular biotechnology


Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination: Multiple choice questions online
Online Exam
6 hours 100

Special assessment rules




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.