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
Essential Molecules, Genes and Cells
This module combines lectures and laboratory classes and aims to introduce 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 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 e.g. cardiovascular, nervous, musculo-skeletal 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
This module provides an introduction to the fundamentals of evolution, ecology and behaviour. Evolutionary processes are explored from a variety of approaches, from the fossil record, through adaptation, speciation and the study of phylogenetics and how it shapes the tree of life, right up to the cutting edge of genomic evolution. You will take part in practical classes, lectures and workshops.
Fundamentals of Neuroscience
This module aims to give a broad understanding of the field of neuroscience. Within the module you will cover the cells of the nervous system and how they function. You will learn basic neuropharmacology, and how neurotransmitters and drugs work act on the nervous system. Lectures will include gross anatomy of the brain and nervous system, and how structures within the brain form different functional systems. By the end of the module you will know how disease can affect these systems and basic aspects of biological psychology. The module is primarily lecture based, with formative practical sessions to aid understanding.
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 can 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 chosen from a list including:
Examines genetic variation in humans, including variation at the DNA level, and the study of human population history using genetic methods. Around three hours per week will be spent within lectures studying this module.
Considers the genetic effects of reduced population size, especially relating to the conservation of endangered species. You will study topics including genetic drift and inbreeding in depth, from theoretical and practical standpoints. You will spend around one and a half hours per week in lectures studying this module, plus a two and a half hour computer practical.
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 will 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.
You will consider the history and practice of population genetics research, with a focus on a quantitative approach to the subject, with training in problem-solving skills. You will spend around two hours within lectures per week studying this module, plus a two-hour computer practical.
Typical year four modules
Research Presentation Skills
An introduction to the presentation skills required in a modern scientific career. A series of lectures will provide you with background ideas about best practice in oral, written and internet-based research communication. Regular tutorials will require you to present and discuss with peers recent key papers in your broad field of study, and also to produce a written summary of a paper for a lay audience. In workshops, you will be asked to prepare a webpage and a poster using appropriate software. You will have between one and eight hours of lectures and workshops per week when studying for this module.
The project is a year-long module. Preparatory work (literature review and familiarisation with laboratory/field safety protocols etc.) occurs in autumn, with the bulk of the practical work in spring. You’ll choose the topic of your project from a list of suggestions relevant to your degree subject and will finalise this after consultation with your supervisor. The project involves an extensive piece of detailed research. Reading and collating earlier research by other scientists working in the area is an essential component. You’ll use your literature review to write a research grant proposal, which outlines the hypotheses to be tested, the proposed experimental design and the research costs associated with the project. The practical component involves collection of data from a laboratory or field investigation and appropriate analysis. Your findings will be interpreted in the context of previous work, and written up in a clear and concise final report in the form of a research paper.
Cutting-Edge Research Ideas in Molecular Biology
This module will bring you up to date with the latest technological developments in biochemistry that you are unlikely to have encountered in detail in your first three years. We also discuss and explore how new technologies with broad implications come into existence and follow the process of establishment, acceptance and dissemination through the scientific community. This module involves having a three hour workshop each week.
Advanced Experimental Design and Analysis
This is an advanced level biological statistics module, building on basic undergraduate (Levels one and two) training. Lectures discuss concepts in experimental design, biological probability, generalised linear modelling and multivariate statistics. Practical sessions build on this conceptual outline, giving you hands-on experience of problem solving and analytical software, and some basic programming skills. You will spend three to four hours within lectures and workshops when studying this module.
Process and Practice in Science
A consideration of science ‘as a process’, with brief introductions to the history, philosophy and sociological norms of science. You will cover aspects of the scientific literature and scientific communication, peer review, 'metrics’, including citation analysis, journal impact factors, and the 'h' and other indices of measuring scientists' performances. You will also cover ethics in science and the changing relationship between scientists, government and the public. You will have a three hour lecture once per week during this module.