SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MMC726392
Module Leader Gillian Hunter
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

At least a 2:2 honours degree (or equivalent) in a biomedical or biological science discipline.

Summary of Content

This module is designed to provide a wide-ranging foundation in the theory of molecular biology with a focus on DNA, genomic variation, gene expression and disease. The module will encourage the development of advanced analytical skills in genomics, transcriptomics and bioinformatics. The module will consist of two elements: (a) A series of lectures. (b) A set of tutorials that will expand on theory gained from lecture material to develop analytical skills in the application of modern molecular laboratory techniques. Practical skills in bioinformatics will be developed using a linked series of hypothetical experiments.


Genome structure and analysis Review of the structure of nucleic acids and organisation of the human genome (including RNA, transposons, repetitive DNA). Chromosome structure (centromere, telomeres, histones, chromatin). Review of essential genomics methodology (to include PCR, Sanger sequencing and next-generation sequencing) and human genome sequencing. Development of digital droplet PCR, quantitative PCR, real time single molecule sequencing (SMRT) (e.g. nanopore technology). Genome function and analysis Enhancement of prokaryotic systems. Eukaryotic RNA polymerases. General features of a transcription unit and control of transcription factors (e.g. oestrogen receptor) and histone acetylation and deacetylation. Translation in eukaryotes. Dynamic chromatin, imprinting, X-inactivation. Introduction to evolving methodology for RNA and gene expression analysis (to include microarray, transcriptomics, single cell RNA-seq (scRNA-Seq), bisulfite sequencing, CHiP sequencing and single cell epigenome sequencing). Introduction to genome editing. Genetics of disease and analysis Overview of cell cycle (i.e. mitosis, meiosis), introduction to patterns of inheritance (e.g. recessive, dominant, X-linked, mitochondrial), types of genetic variation (e.g. single nucleotide polymorphisms, indels, restriction fragment length polymorphisms, trinucleotide repeats, examples of genetic diseases. DNA damage (e.g. DNA replication error, endogenous and exogenous chemical damage), repair (e.g. mismatch repair, base excision repair, nucleotide excision repair, homologous recombination-mediated DNA repair, non-homologous end joining), chromosomal abnormalities. Methodologies to analyse DNA and chromosomal variation (to include ARMS, QF-PCR, MLPA, karyotyping, aCGH and SNP microarray). Bioinformatics Awareness, access and interrogation of databases Finding disease genes and understanding disease mechanisms Introduction to molecular pathology (e.g. LoF, GoF, allelic heterogeneity, haploinsufficiency), identification of novel disease genes (position independent and position dependent methods), case study disease example showcasing molecular genetics in action.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:1. Explain current understanding of the human genome and disease, to include methods that can be used to analyse genetic variation and gene expression.2. Critically interpret data from advanced genomics methodologies.3. Select appropriate bioinformatics tools for data analysis and interpretation of results.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

This module is intended to provide underpinning in molecular biology for a group of students with diverse backgrounds in biological sciences. Understanding of the topic will be through a series of linked lectures that develop themes from basic to advanced learning. To encourage a deeper understanding of the module topics and consolidate knowledge, an interactive case study approach will be used in a series of lecture-linked tutorials. Such a student-centred learning approach will promote development of analytical and interpretative skills in using modern molecular biology technologies. A specific bioinformatics tutorial will encourage consolidation of theoretical principles from lecture material, expose students to real world problem solving while improving upon IT skills. This will be assessed within the class test. The approach of building knowledge from a basic to advanced level in each section will provide students with knowledge of a broad range of applications that are important in the health service, industry, public health and research, and is highly relevant to student employability.

Indicative Reading

Human Molecular Genetics, Strachan and Read (2018), Taylor and Francis Genetics and Genomics in Medicine, Strachan (2015), Garland Science Molecular Biology of the Cell, Alberts et al 6th edition (2015), Garland Science

Transferrable Skills

Students will develop transferrable skills including; interpretation of molecular biology data, analysis of sequencing data, independent working, interrogation of databases and bioinformatics skills, IT skills. A student centred learning package focussing on developing student understanding and comprehension via interactive tutorials will promote confidence, encourage deeper learning and divergent thinking about real world situations, thereby promoting overall employability. The common good curriculum: The module aligns well with the common good curriculum with students encouraged to critically evaluate real world examples of biomolecular sciences and to think creatively. Tutorials will challenge students to learn from experience and will lead to development of critical analysis skills that will enable students to examine presented facts in a positive manner.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (FT) 22.00
Tutorials (FT) 18.00
Assessment (FT) 15.00
Independent Learning (FT) 95.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam 01 2.00 60.00 45% MCQ and short notes.
Course Work 01 n/a 40.00 45% Genomics case study