module specification

AS5053 - Fundamentals of Biotechnology (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Fundamentals of Biotechnology
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School Faculty of Life Sciences and Computing
Total study hours 150
35 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
115 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Essay (2000 words)
Coursework 20%   Laboratory report (1000 words)
Unseen Examination 40%   Final exam (1 hour)
Attendance Requirement 0%   Practical Attendance
Running in 2018/19 No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module will provide students with an understanding of applications of manipulation of microorganisms and potential genetic model organisms for gene manipulation, expression and regulation, microbial cultivation and their applications in pharmaceutical, food and agriculture sectors. 

Prior learning requirements

Pre-requisites: AS4003 Cell and Molecular Biology,
Co-requisites AS5005 Molecules of Heredity and Defence or BS5002 Infection Science

Module aims

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications).This module will provide essential knowledge of genetic manipulation and application in microorganisms. The students’ will have the opportunity to evaluate and appraise technological developments and downstream application of biotechnology processes and procedures. Module material will Provide critical evaluation of research and development in a biotechnology industrial/commercial context. This module aims to provide students with the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring: the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility; decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts; and, the learning ability needed to undertake appropriate further training of a professional or equivalent nature.


An introduction to biotechnology including traditional applications of biotechnology: Fermentation technology. Microorganisms with biotechnological applications. Enzymes in biotechnology. Basic principles of recombinant DNA technology. Plant and animal biotechnology. Production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals (bioconversion). Environmental biotechnology. Role of microorganisms in the production and transformation of food and beverages. Microbial production of natural antimicrobials and their application in the food industry. Functional foods and biotechnology. Microorganisms in bioremediation and in the generation of energy. Biotherapeutics. Ethics in biotechnology. Role of bioinformatics in biotechnology.

Learning and teaching

Students will be provided with the opportunity to acquire knowledge of the subject matter through a variety of teacher led activities and self-directed study. Students’ knowledge and understanding of “Biotechnology” will be developed through a programme of lectures (19 hours), tutorial (10 hours) and supporting practical exercises (9 hours). Students' ability to handle and interpret information will be encouraged through these laboratory based investigations, most taken over two weeks, and the guided use of expected directed reading of additional literature on the subject, video material and other learning resources.
Lectures will be used to provide a conceptual framework. Student centred assignments, including research for writing the essay (about 55 hours) and production of a laboratory report (55 hours) will enable students to reinforce and expand their knowledge and develop subject skills.
Self-managed time and private study should be spread out over the whole year and not left until the final weeks, however, opportunities for Self-directed revision (4 hours) have also been provided within the program.
PDP: on completion of this module students provide an evaluation of how the module allowed them to develop skills such as information technology, organisational skills, team building, communication, time management, and working under pressure.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Evaluate the efficacy of methods of gene manipulation in microorganisms.
2. Demonstrate theoretical and conceptual  understanding of applications of microbial biotechnology.
3. 3.Critically review issues in biotechnology including the impact on society and the environmentof  inter alia genetically modified crops and gene therapy.


Assessment strategy

The module will be summatively assessed:

The final exam (40%)  covering learning outcomes 1, 2, 3,
Coursework (2000 words, used to provide formative feedback) on a selected microbial biotechnology topic (40%), covering learning outcomes 2,3,
Laboratory report (20%, covering learning outcomes 1, 2, 3) entailing answering specific questions.

To pass the module, students need to achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 40%.  There will be an attendance requirement for the practical sessions. If the module is passed on reassessment, then the maximum mark awarded will be 40%.

Satisfactory attendance required to pass module


Crommelin DJA and Sindelar RD (2008) Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (3rd edition). London, Informa Health Care
Glazer, AN andNikaido H (2007) Microbial Biotechnology: Fundamentals of Applied Microbiology(2nd edition), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
Seidman LA, Moore CJ (2009)Basic Laboratory Methods for Biotechnology (2nd Edition), Benjamin Cummings
Smith JE (2009) Biotechnology (5th edition), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
Stahl U, Donalies UEB and Nevoigt E (2008) Food Biotechnology (eds), Berlin, Springer
Stewart  CNJr (2008) Plant Biotechnology and Genetics: Principles, Techniques and Applications (ed), New Jersey, John Wiley andSons
Walker JM, Raply R (2009) Molecular biology and biotechnology (eds),Cambridge, Royal Society of Chemistry
Watson JD, Caudy AA, Myers RM, and Witkowski JA (2007) Recombinant DNA: Genes and Genomes, a short course (3rd edition). W.H. Freeman and Company/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Review articles:
Freitas F, Alves, VD and Reis MAM (2011) Advances in bacterial exopolysaccharides: from production to biotechnological applications. Trends in Biotechnology 29 (8), 1-9
Park JR, McFarlane I, Phipps RH and Ceddia G (2011) The role of transgenic crops in sustainable development. Plant Biotechnology Journal  9 (1) 2–21