module specification

AS5053 - Fundamentals of Biotechnology (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Fundamentals of Biotechnology
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Essay (2000 words)
Coursework 30%   Laboratory report (1000 words)
Unseen Examination 30%   Final exam (1 hour)
Attendance Requirement 0%   Practical Attendance
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Wednesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module will provide students with an understanding of principles of biotechnology including ancient, classic and modern biotechnology and industrial application of microorganisms in many areas such as food and agriculture, environment and pharmaceutical. The module also focuses on industrial production of enzymes for different applications and introduces basics of molecular biology tools and techniques including recombinant DNA technology

Prior learning requirements

Pre-requisites: AS4003 Cell and Molecular Biology,

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 fermentation and the role of enzymes in biotechnology. The students will have the opportunity to learn the basics of recombinant DNA technology and evaluate and appraise biotechnological developments in areas such as environment, food, plant and animal as well as pharmaceutical industry. 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 and 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 (25 hours), tutorial (10 hours) and supporting practical exercises (10 hours). Students' ability to handle and interpret information will be encouraged through these laboratory based investigations, some 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 through production of a laboratory report 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 module and not left until the final weeks, however, opportunities for Self-directed revision 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. Demonstrate understanding of principles of biotechnology
2. Demonstrate theoretical and conceptual understanding of applications of microbial biotechnology.
3. Describe the contribution of biotechnology in food, agriculture and environment
3. Critically review ethical issues in biotechnology including the impact on society and the environment

Assessment strategy

This module will be summatively be assessed by an unseen final exam (1 h), covering syllabus topics.  The students are also expected to submit a coursework (2000 words essay) on topics related to biotechnology and its applications. The coursework will be formatively assessed (feedbacks will be provided) before submission. Laboratory report (2000 words) entails short reports on results and discussions of each practical as well as answering specific questions listed in the methods booklet.

Component   Marks Learning outcomes
Unseen final exam 1 hr 40% 1, 2, 3
Coursework 1 (essay) 2000 words 40% 1, 2, 3, 4
Coursework 2 (lab report) 1000 words 20% 1, 2, 3
Practical attendance   0%  

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%.


Crommelin DJA and Sindelar RD (2008) Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (3rd edition). London, Informa Health Care

Freitas F, Alves VD and Reis MAM (2011) Advances in bacterial exopolysaccharides: from production to biotechnological applications. Trends in Biotechnology 29 (8), 1-9

Glazer AN and Nikaido H (2007) Microbial Biotechnology: Fundamentals of Applied Microbiology 2nd ed., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

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

Seidman LA and Moore CJ (2009)Basic Laboratory Methods for Biotechnology (2nd Edition), Benjamin Cummings

Smith JE (2009) Biotechnology 5th ed., 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 ed. W.H. Freeman and Company/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press