SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3C526356
Module Leader John Butcher
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

SCQF level 8 in biological sciences or similar subject.

Summary of Content

Biotechnology is the area of biology that applies our knowledge and understanding of organisms and living systems to provide solutions to medical, agricultural and industrial problems. The module will cover: utilisation of microorganisms in the production of food and beverages and the associated food preservation, food safety, nutritional and health benefits of fermented foods; Industrial fermentation in the production of chemicals, biomolecules and pharmaceuticals; bacteriophage in medicine and food preservation; genetic manipulation of microorganisms to produce recombinant proteins and other compounds with clinical, environmental, food industry utility; genetic manipulation of plants to help provide food sustainability and food security and associated bioethics; bioremediation for waste management; biofuels. In this module students will develop a critical appreciation of all of the aforementioned technologies and will be encouraged to develop improved or novel biotechnological solutions to global challenges. Lecture and tutorial material is complemented by laboratory practical classes.


Introduction: The exploitation of microorganisms by humans; historical perspective and contrasts between traditional and modern technologies. Microorganisms in Fermentation Technology: Microorganisms in Food and Beverage Production: Roles for microorganisms in environmental sustainability Genetic manipulation of organisms, and bioethics Laboratories The laboratory work in this module will cover a selection of advanced methods relevant to the subjects covered in the lecture programme, including modern methods of rapid molecular, immunological and phenotypic diagnostic methods, the detection of mycotoxins and the use of bacteriophage as antimicrobial agents particularly relevant to the food industry but broadly applicable to other fields too. Tutorials Tutorials will be used to underpin the lecture and laboratory programme and for processing, critical evaluation and interpretation of experimental data

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:1. Evaluate the role of living systems and organisms in existing biotechnological processes. 2. Explain and justify the use of living systems and organisms in the pursuit of improved technologies. 3. Utilise technical skills through practical lab experience and assimilate findings into a format suitable for scientific communication. 4. Critically evaluate the drivers and challenges relating to existing and emerging biotechnologies.Relationship to the aims of the host programmeBy providing an understanding of existing and developing biotechnologies in therapeutics, reduction of environmental harm, and food security, this module complements the knowledge dimension of the host programmes and broadens students' intellectual perspective. In addition, the laboratory and tutorial sessions encourage students to think and perform as scientists.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

A blended learning approach is adopted on the module with lectures, seminars and lab practical classes facilitating direct knowledge transfer, and the GCU Virtual Learning Environment (GCU Learn) providing a dedicated website which hosts course and lecture materials, web links to online resources, directed reading and announcements. Lectures introduce key theoretical principles, practices and techniques. Students are empowered to take responsibility for their learning as they assimilate the learning from the lecture, tutorial and lab practical classes into the development of a new product from identified waste streams. In addition, during the laboratory programme the students will develop a wide range of hands on laboratory skills. A tutorial programme supplementing the lectures and laboratory programmes will allow students to evaluate their knowledge and address any skills gaps. The teaching strategy will progressively develop the use of textbooks, journals and internet for sources of information. Students will be given directed reading in appropriate research areas. Team work, project management, data management and research skills are embedded throughout the module and represent transferrable skills crucial to graduate success. Internationalisation: The module incorporates an international dimension to student learning through discussion of global challenges that have been, or have the potential to be, addressed through biotechnology. The internationalisation strategy within the module aligns with principles 1, 2, 4, 7 and 8 of the Global Perspectives principles of an Internationalised Curriculum. The common good curriculum: The module aligns well with the common good curriculum with students encouraged to critically global challenges across medicine, food security and sustainability, clean water and sanitation, and climate action. Solutions to each of these address inequality and disadvantage. These also align well with active and global citizenship, in addition to creating solutions to real world problems in combination with entrepreneurship. Working as teams in the laboratory encourages all criteria of responsible leadership and confidence development. Feedback strategy: Formative feedback is issued throughout the module. Students submit all coursework electronically through GCU Learn Turnitin, and marks and electronic feedback are provided therein, normally within 3 working weeks of submission. Following submission of Coursework assessment, students receive comments relating to each marking criteria as well as a feedback summary highlighting any particular weaknesses and commendations in addition to mark awarded. Face to face feedback is also offered for all aspects of assessment at the student's request.

Indicative Reading

Biotechnology (2009) 5th Edition. Smith, John E . ISBN-13 978-0-521-88494-5 (Hardback)ISBN-13 978-0-521-71193-7 (paperback). Cambridge University Press Microbial Biotechnology (2007). 2nd Edition. Glazer,A.N. and Nikaido,H . ISBN 9780521842105 Cambridge University Press Fermentation microbiology and biotechnology (2007) . 2nd Edition. El-Mansi, E. M. T. and Doyle,M.P . Biosafety first-holistic approaches to risk and uncertainty in genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms (2008). IBSN 9788251921138. Traavik, T and Li Ching, L . Tapir Academic Press The Prokaryotes . Online journal resource Microbial Biotechnology online journal resource; <> The Plant Cell online journal resource <> Plant Science online journal resource Plant Cell Reports online journal resource Reading lists will be provided for each topic area based on scientific papers and peer reviews

Transferrable Skills

The following transferrable and employability skills are embedded within the module: Self-management: self-motivation, time management and critical self-reflection and evaluation of personal performance. Interpersonal Skills: ability to work collaboratively and constructively with others in lab groups. Oral, written and verbal communication skills. Teamwork skills; Critical thinking and problem solving skills developed through lab based practicals and tutorial exercises. Information technology skills developed through online research and communication. Analytical, evaluative and creative problem solving developed throughout the module experience but especially through lab practicals and tutorials Knowledge and understanding in the context of the subject. Sensitivity to cultural and ethical challenges surrounding biotechnology.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Practicals (FT) 21.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Tutorials (FT) 6.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Independent Learning (FT) 129.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 01 n/a 50.00 35% Lab Portfolio.
Course Work 02 n/a 50.00 35% Dissertation