Bioinformatics (15 hours, 10 credits)
Taught together with students from the MSc Immunology and Allergy, this 10-credit module is held in semester two. This module will enable students to obtain practical experience in using advanced bioinformatics software available for the analysis of genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic data:
- Introduction to bioinformatics
- Sequence interpretation, annotation and variation
- Investigating the transcriptome
- Protein structure and function prediction
- Proteome analysis and protein interaction networks
- Implications for Human Health
- IT sessions
The module is taught using a combination of lectures and practical sessions. Students are required to produce a poster for assessment which includes information gathered from online databases and analysis of a nucleic acid sequence. There is also an associated short report which documents the process taken to analyse the sequence and produce the poster.
Molecular Services in Health Care (12 hours, 10 credits)
This course is a 10-credit module taught in semester two. Topics include the following: setting up a molecular diagnostics laboratory, ethical issues and genetic counseling, cytogenetic techniques, prenatal diagnosis and diagnosis of microbial infections:
- The impact of molecular diagnosis
- Establishing a molecular diagnostics laboratory
- Genetic counselling sessions
- Pre-natal diagnosis
- Pre-implantation diagnosis
- Phenylketonuria and screening
- Familial hypercholesterolemia and screening
- Molecular diagnosis and cellular pathology
Assessment is via an essay of around 4000 words.
Microbial Genetics and Genomics (24 hours, 20 credits)
This 20-credit module is taught in semester two. It will provide an overview of genetic and genomic approaches to the study and diagnosis of bacterial and viral pathogens, including a global overview of the regulation of pathogenesis in Prokaryotes. The taught courses cover the following subjects:
- Introduction to basic microbiology
- The use of basic microbiological and molecular techniques to identify bacterial and viral pathogens
- An overview of the structure and organisation of bacterial genomes
- Quorum sensing
- The role of bacterial virulence factors in infection.
- The regulation of expression of Staphylococcus aureus virulence determinants
- PBL - Using genetic tools to diagnose MRSA
- The regulation of expression of bacterial virulence determinants
- An overview of the structure and organisation of viral genomes
- Introduction to the regulation of expression of viral virulence determinants
- The genetics of Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 as an example of an RNA virus infection
- Genetics of Hepatitis B virus as an example of a DNA virus infection
- The role of host genetics in virus infections
- PBL - Isolation and genetic typing of viral infections
- A brief overview of some notable clinically relevant pathogens
- Artemis and Artemis Comparison tool
- PBL - Gene and protein sequence analysis
The module is composed of a combination of lectures delivered by experts covering the latest knowledge in their respective fields with additional problem-based learning (PBL) sessions giving students the opportunity to investigate and solve realistic situations.
Molecular Technologies (32 hours, 20 credits)
This 20-credit course is held in semester two, and will provide an extensive review of emerging molecular techniques used in research of human diseases. Topics include: real-time PCR, microarrays, methods for diagnosis of infectious diseases and mutation detection:
- Molecular Genetics and Disease
- Student session - Setting Assessment and Discussion
- Student session - Living with her genes
- Student session - The Hap Map Resource
- Student session - Copy Number Variation (CNV)
- Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA)
- Student session - High Throughput Technologies
- Chips and Microarrays
- Student Session - Genome Wide Association Studies
- Deep Sequencing
- Proteomic aspects of disease
- Sequence analysis and mutation detection
- Genotype/Phenotype correlations
- Student session - Assessments
- New frontiers
The module is delivered using a combination of lectures with additional student-led sessions. For these sessions, students are provided with a question or topic which they have to research and present. Assessment is by multiple choice exam (60%) and a group project (40%).
Research Project (60 credits)
Students will carry out their own research projects during spring and summer, in areas and topics determined by members of academic staff. The experimental part of the projects is carried out within the laboratories where research is being performed by other MSc and PhD students, post-doctoral fellows and technicians which are always keen to provide help and support. The aim is for students to develop their practical and intellectual skills in scientific investigation, and gain experience of project and time management. Project reports will be written up in the style of an original research paper, giving the student further hands-on experiences in writing scientific publications.
Specifically the project will enable students to:
- Demonstrate ability to research, and apply to the practical investigation, relevant research literature from a variety of sources, in an area appropriate to the course.
- Design experiments to yield interpretable results, to analyse and interpret data obtained and, on this basis, choose appropriate lines of further investigation.
- Carry out and develop safe and effective research practice.
- Present and discuss the merits and weaknesses of the investigative approach, and identify future research avenues using both oral and written techniques.
Students will spend 400-750 hours in the laboratory for the duration of the project.
During the this period, students and their supervisors are expected to meet informally on a regular basis to discuss progress and complete four formally documented meetings.
Preparation of the dissertation will normally take 100 hours across the duration of the module. Examples of some recent research projects include:
- Investigation of splicing mutations in bleeding disorders
- Investigation of F8 gene deletions in haemophilia A
- Molecular screening for oesophageal cancer
- Mapping functional elements in the SerpinA1 promoter
- Translational efficiency of SerpinA1 alternative transcripts
- Copy number variation (CNV) and Alzheimer's disease
- Haplotypes of the epidermal growth factor gene and intrauterine growth
- Multiplex FISH Analysis in leukaemia
- Examining quorum sensing gene expression using lux-based promoter fusions in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis
- Novel signalling molecules involved in global control of gene expression in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Identification and function of small regulatory RNAs in pathogenic Clostridia
Assessment of the project is as follows:
• Supervisor mark for practical skills (20%)
• Research presentation and questions (40%)
• Dissertation (40%)
For more details on our modules, please see our module catalogue.