module specification

BE5060 - Molecular Biology (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module title Molecular Biology
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 150
114 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Practical report (1500 words)
In-Course Test 20%   Quizzes
Unseen Examination 40%   Exam (1 hr)
Running in 2021/22
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Thursday Morning

Module summary

This module will enable students to extend their understanding of the principles of molecular biology in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms, with emphasis on understanding mechanisms of gene expression, genome structure, variation and replication, and genetic inheritance and genetic causes of disease. The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s, Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.
The module integrates the knowledge and skills acquired from other modules and encourages independent learning through the access of information using appropriate laboratory, primary and secondary sources, and informatics resources. It develops competence in laboratory skills through practical work, and in scientific writing. It aims to develop students’ qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment including developing ability to solve problems and gather and interpret data to inform a focussed theme and writing reports.  Moreover students have an opportunity to develop self-management employability skills by engaging fully with the learning material and opportunities made available to them, and by continually reflecting on their progress through the module using the regular feedback opportunities available to them.

Prior learning requirements



The module starts with a review of gene and genome structure and organisation in eukaryotes (nuclear and mitochondrial genomes) and prokaryotes. This provides a foundation for studying the mechanisms by which gene expression is controlled through the process of gene transcription.  The simpler process of prokaryotic transcription is described first, including a consideration of the operon organisation of genes commonly found in prokaryotes. Generic features of the control of eukaryotic transcription are described and illustrated with examples.  LO1,LO2,LO3
Expression of the primary transcription RNA product is described briefly for prokaryotes.  Eukaryotic RNA processing, including capping, splicing, polyadenylation and nuclear export, is described together with a consideration of alternative splicing. The gene expression pathway is completed with a brief study of translation and of the post-translational modifications that proteins can undergo in order to fulfil their biological role.  Emerging areas of genome transcription will be reviewed, including miRNAs and other non-coding RNAs. LO1,LO2
The process of genome replication in prokaryotes and eukaryotes will be described, including the enzymes involved.  DNA damage and repair will be discussed and linked to other mechanisms cells employ to ensure RNA and proteins are also made correctly, together forming an overview of cellular quality control systems. The latter part of the module focuses on human genomes, starting with an overview of genome variation between and within individuals, comparing inherited and somatic variations.  LO2

The continuing advances in techniques of genome analysis will be reviewed LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Acquisition of knowledge of the subject matter of this module will be promoted through lecturer-led lectures (16h), associated small-group tutorials (8h) and a semester review (2h). These will be supplemented with the guided use of web-based student-centred learning resources, including web-based directed study and review (34 hours). Each lecture has an associated tutorial class and web-based review in the form of an MCQ test (formative assessment). Links to selected web resources are also provided within individual sessions. Practical classes (10 hours) will be used to develop laboratory skills and to consolidate knowledge in applied aspects of gene expression. Students are expected to complete a short report at the end of each class (formative assessment), which will include opportunities for reflective learning. The remaining time is self managed for private study (80 hours)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Display an understanding of genome structure, expression and replication in eukaryotes and prokaryotes;
2. Demonstrate an appreciation of the inheritance, analysis and implications of genetic variation in the human genome;
3.    Procure or generate, assess and interpret data obtained from a variety of resources including laboratory work, primary and secondary literature and relevant databases, to develop report writing as an employability skill (Communication and Literacy).

Assessment strategy

Assessment is designed to promote deep learning through regular formative and summative assessment with quizzes throughout the module (20%).  The highest marks from three quizzes out of six taken across the module, will be included in the Quizzes component of the module mark. A reassessment quiz will cover material tested in the semester’s six quizzes. A longer summative exam will assess knowledge acquired through the semester, assessed by an unseen examination (40%) at the end of the semester. There is a practical report coursework component (40% 1500 words). Criteria for assessment will include an understanding of the subject matter; an ability to explain, describe and discuss the work; completeness and conciseness of written reports and essays with emphasis upon critical ability and scientific rigour.
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%.

Component                                         Marks Learning outcomes
Practical report                                                 40%         1, 2, 3
Exam                                                                40%                     1, 2
Quizzes                                                             20%                     1, 2
Practical attendance                                            0%


ALBERTS, B., JOHNSON, A., LEWIS, J., MORGAN, D., RAFF, M., ROBERTS, K. and WALTER, P. (2015) Molecular Biology of the Cell. 6th ed. New York: Garland Science. [CORE]
COX, M.M., DOUDNA, J.A. and O’DONNELL, M. (2015) Molecular Biology. Principles and Practice.  2nd ed. New York: Freeman.
CUMMINGS M.R. (2013) Human heredity: principles and issues. 10th ed. Pacific Grove, California: Brooks / Cole.
HARTWELL, L.H., GOLDBERG M.L., FISCHER, J.A., HOOD, L.E., AQUADRO, C.F. and BEJCEK, B.E. (2014) Genetics: from genes to genomes. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
HARTL, D.L. and RUVOLO, M. (2012) Genetics: analysis of genes and genomes. 8th ed. London: Jones and Bartlett.
KORF, B. R. and IRONS, M.B. (2013) Human genetics and genomics. 4th ed. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.