The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.
Typical year one modules
Genes, Molecules and Cells
This module combines lectures and laboratory classes and introduces you to the structure and function of significant molecules in cells, and the important metabolic processes which occur inside them. You will study, amongst other topics, protein and enzyme structure and function, the biosynthesis of cell components, and the role of cell membranes in barrier and transport processes. You'll examine how information in DNA is used to determine the structure of gene products. Topics include DNA structure, transcription and translation and mutation and recombinant DNA technology.
Core Skills in Biochemistry and Genetics
With lectures, workshops and tutorials this module will enable you to develop the core skills needed by biochemists and geneticists in scientific writing, data handling and analysis, experimental design and scientific presentations. This module is designed to develop your problem solving scientific skills. An important aspect of this module is the integral tutorial system which will allow you to get to know the member of staff who will be your tutor for the duration of your studies.
Life on Earth
Life on Earth provides an introduction to the fundamental characteristics and properties of the myriad of organisms which inhabit our planet, from viruses, bacteria and Archaea, to plants and animals. In weekly lectures, and regular laboratory practical classes, you will consider how living organisms are classified, how they are related genetically and phylogenetically, and basic aspects of their structure and function.
Fundamental Inorganic and Organic Chemistry
This module provides the essential chemistry that biochemists need to understand the life process at the molecular level. The module includes atomic and molecular structure, bonding and reactivity, spectroscopy, “curly arrow” organic reactions and core organic chemistry and is taught by means of lectures and workshops.
In this module, you will be introduced to the physiology of the major systems eg cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal, mostly in man, including some aspects of drug action. This module will allow you to understand your biochemical and genetics knowledge in the context of the intact organism. This module includes lectures and laboratory classes.
Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour
Starting with Darwin’s theory of evolution, you will learn how natural selection and other evolutionary forces have shaped the ways in which organisms interact with each other and their environment. In addition to lectures, practical classes will give you hands-on experience with a range of ecological and behavioural concepts in the laboratory and the field.
Fundamentals of Neuroscience
This module will give you a good grounding in the basic principles of the nervous system of humans and other animals. Topics will include neuroanatomy, cellular neuroscience, neuropharmacology, sensory systems, neuroendocrinology, memory, behavioural neuroscience and diseases of the nervous system. These will be delivered through weekly lectures and practical classes.
Typical year two modules
The Genome and Human Disease
The module will start with an examination of the structure and function of the eukaryotic genome and progress to consider the links between changes to the genome and human disease. Key techniques for studying the genome and disease will also be presented in a series of sessions at intervals throughout the module.
Structure, Function and Analysis of Proteins
This module considers the structure and function of soluble proteins and how individual proteins can be studied in molecular detail. More specifically you will learn about the problems associated with studying membrane-bound proteins and build an in-depth understanding of enzyme kinetics and catalysis. You will learn about the practical aspects of affinity purification, SDS PAGE, western blotting, enzyme assays, bioinformatics and molecular modelling approaches.
Signals and Metabolic Regulation
This module considers the mechanisms and purpose of cell to cell signalling and metabolic regulation and includes the regulation of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and an outline of the various major signalling systems in mammals including signal transduction in G-protein coupled signalling systems, growth factors, cytokines and their receptors, cell-cell signalling and the extracellular matrix (ECM) and the role of the ubiquitin-proteasome system. The regulation and integration of various metabolic pathways will be covered in health and disease illustrated with specific examples and related to the signalling pathways covered in this module to provide an understanding of how biochemical processes are integrated and regulated. The module also includes laboratory classes where you will use techniques to study signal transduction and metabolism.
Structure, Function and Analysis of Genes
This module will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the structures of DNA and RNA and how the information within these nucleic acids is maintained and expressed in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell types. Additionally, this module describes how nucleic acids can be manipulated in vitro using molecular biological approaches. Practical classes will focus your learning on the cloning and manipulation of DNA to express recombinant proteins in bacterial systems.
Higher Skills in Biochemistry and Genetics
This module further develops and enhances the skills you will have learned in the year one skills module. In year two, you'll write a short dissertation, solve biochemical and genetics problems, explore the scientific method applied to biochemistry and genetics, learn how to present science to the public and look issues around the ethics of science and research. The module includes lectures, tutorials and workshops.
You will take 20 credits of optional modules from:
Examines the basic concepts of vertebrate embryonic development. You will discuss specific topics including germ cells, blood and muscle cell differentiation, left-right asymmetry and miRNAs. The teaching for this module is delivered through lectures.
Bacterial Genes and Development
Molecular events that occur during the control of gene expression in bacteria will be described. You'll learn by considering case studies, which will show you how complex programmes of gene action can occur in response to environmental stimuli. You will also study the regulation of genes in pathogenic bacteria.
Bacteria are used to a great extent in the biotechnology industry. This module develops the microbiology learned in year one as part of Genes, Molecules and Cells to introduce you to how bacteria can be used in many ways, including the production of molecules for treatment of human diseases.
Evolutionary Biology of Animals
Evolutionary thinking is essential to molecular genetics. The main objective of this module is to introduce the student to key evolutionary concepts. It aims to allow the student to place their scientific interests within the broader context of evolution and to provide valuable background information that will benefit their future studies.
Typical year three modules
This module enables you to experience contemporary research methods first-hand. There will be at least three options available, including: (1) performing a laboratory-based research project on a topic related to the interests of a member of staff and producing a dissertation, (2) producing a group lab-project with open-ended aims and outcomes, to be decided by the group, including the design and conduct of the experiment with a dissertation, or (3) selecting a topic of interest to you and a member of staff, and producing an in-depth literature survey on the knowledge state of the topic decided upon. There will two days a week of research project work.
Examines the mechanisms through which eukaryotic genes are expressed and regulated, with emphasis placed on recent research on transcriptional control in yeast and post-transcriptional control in eukaryotes. Studying this module will include having three hours of lectures per week.
Biochemistry of Disease
This module will encourage you to use your biochemical knowledge to explain topics such as the hormonal control of metabolism, how fasting and overfeeding affects the body, and how problems within human body processing can lead to diseases. In addition, you will be able to describe two classes of important biochemical diseases including the inborn errors of metabolism and neurological disorders. There will be one hour of lectures a week for a full year.
In this module, you will take different approaches and techniques to present and discuss scientific data. Following a lecture-based introduction to methods, you will apply your knowledge to prepare and present talks and a scientific paper. By the end of the module, you will be able to present scientific data in a clear and concise way, use Beer’s Law to solve spectrophotometric problems, and understand the use of radioactivity in biochemical experiments. There will be one hour of lectures a week and workshop/seminar activities.
This module is divided into three parts: Firstly the application of genetic engineering to construct vectors that maximize the expression the expression of protein from cloned genes or cDNAs in heterologous systems will be discussed. Modern methods for the purification of recombinant proteins will be described. In the spring the module covers the life history of a protein from birth (synthesis) to death (apoptosis). The other major aspects that are involved include a discussion of protein folding, the cytoskeleton, protein and vesicle trafficking including endocytosis and protein degradation.
You can take 30 credits of optional modules from a list including:
Covers genetic variation in humans, including variation at the DNA level, and the study of human population history using genetic methods. The module will cover recent advances in the analysis of human variation and will describe both the patterns of genetic diversity within and between populations, as well as the mechanisms which create them. The module consists of weekly 4-5 hour lectures, split between two sessions over five weeks.
This module describes the genetic effects of reduced population size, especially in relation to the conservation of endangered species. Topics will include, among others, random genetic drift and inbreeding, the importance of heterozygosity and the consequences of a loss of genetic variability, and methods of alleviating these factors. This module consists of a two and a half hour lecture each week.
Examines a selection of acquired and inherited cancers, and develops an understanding of the role of the genes involved and how they can be analysed. To study for this module you will have a two or three hour lecture once per week.
Advanced Developmental Biology
You’ll consider the molecular mechanisms underlying stem cell function during embryogenesis and adulthood. This will involve studies of regeneration and repair of tissues and pluripotency. You will have one two-hour lecture per week in this module.
Molecular events that occur during the control of gene expression in bacteria will be described. You'll consider case studies, which show how complex programmes of gene action can occur in response to environmental stimuli. You'll spend around three hours per week in lectures studying this module.