Accessibility statement

Genes & development - BIO00072H

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  • Department: Biology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Betsy Pownall
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary

This module is taught as a series of lectures focussed on understanding the primary scientific literature that underpins the current models of gene regulation and function in embryonic development. Topics covered include cell signalling, master gene regulators of cell lineage specification and the epigenetic regulation of development. The module builds upon themes introduced in Stages 1 (Cell and Developmental Biology) and stage 2 (Molecular Genetics and Development). Each lecture provides appropriate context and background information to enable the detailed discussion of primary research litertaure relating to genetic and epigenetic mechanisms regulating development. Students are expected to have read the papers ahead of each session, and will be encouraged to contribute to discussions. Interactive workshops will provide the opportunity to apply the skills learned during the course of this module.

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21 to Summer Term 2020-21

Module aims

The module aims to illustrate the general principles and mechanisms operating during the development of multicelluar organisms. By exposing students to a wide range of experimental approaches, we aim to provide students with knowledge of “an experimental toolkit” that can be widely applied for investigating problems in cell biology and developmental genetics. Students will develop a deep understanding of experimental approaches and an appropriate critical awareness of the types of data presented in primary research papers investigating gene function.

Module learning outcomes

1. Discuss the role of growth factor signalling and transcriptional regulation in the process of cell lineage specification during development.

2. Demonstrate an ability to critically assess novel data presented in primary research papers and integrate these data with knowledge of the mechanisms regulating cell lineage specification.

3. Evaluate the importance of epigenetic mechanisms in establishing and maintaining patterns of gene expression during development

4. Describe and critically assess the embryological, biochemical and molecular techniques used in the study of developmental biology.

5. Devise experimental approaches to address problems in developmental biology.


Task Length % of module mark
Comprehension and criticism
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Comprehension and criticism
N/A 100

Module feedback

Marks for open assessments will be made available to you and your supervisor via e:vision. Individual comments will be added to your script and/or on separate summary feedback document. Histograms of module marks will be posted on the notice boards outside the Biology Student Services office. You should take the opportunity to discuss your marks and feedback with your supervisor.

During the teaching of the module you will receive feedback that may be at a whole class or individual level. Forms of 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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students