Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • • Level 1 Genetics (BIOL1171) and ONE other Level 1 module from the following list: Organisms and Environment (BIOL1161), Molecules and Cells (BIOL1281) or Physiology (BIOL1151).


  • • At least one other Level 2 Biological Sciences Module

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop the study of the central role of molecular biology in modern biosciences, taking student knowledge to an intermediate level.
  • To develop understanding of methods of gene analysis, gene manipulation and information retrieval to an intermediate level.
  • To provide the necessary background in topics in molecular biology to support full access to research literature.


  • Recombinant DNA techniques.
  • Transcription and translation in eukaryotes.
  • DNA repair and recombination; transposable elements and viruses.
  • Molecular evolution.
  • Principles of gene regulation.
  • Analysis of genomes and mutations.
  • Plant Molecular Biology
  • Bioinformatics

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of intermediate level techniques for manipulating and cloning DNA.
  • Knowledge of the sequence of steps involved in gene expression in eukaryotes, including regulation of gene expression and protein translation.
  • Knowledge of the multiple roles of RNA in the cell.
  • Knowledge of the structures of genomes, the sequence variation amongst individual and within species.
  • Knowledge of the sequence of steps involved in genetic screens.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Basic use of global sequence databases for information retrieval.
  • Intermediate level skills in recombinant DNA techniques.
Key Skills:
  • Literacy, in being able to consult and extract information from printed and on-line archives.
  • Communication skills, using writing skills and graphics, involved in practical reports.
  • IT skills, in information retrieval from on-line databases.
  • Team work, working in small groups in molecular biology practical classes.
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures deliver subject-specific knowledge.
  • Workshops reinforce subject-specific knowledge and understanding gained from lectures and the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Practical classes allow students to utilise subject-specific knowledge gained from lectures, and support the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Tutorials give enhancement of the student learning experience, supporting attainment of all learning outcomes.
  • Self-guided learning contributes to subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation.
  • Practical reports are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in carrying out experimental work and data analysis, as well as key skills.
  • Unseen examinations demonstrate achievement of the appropriate level of subject-specific knowledge of development, with an emphasis on understanding and communication (essay and problem-based questions) or recall of factual knowledge (multiple choice or short answer question tests).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 35 Weekly 2 hours p/w 35
Practicals 2 run consecutively in 2nd term 4 hours 8
Workshops 1 1 2nd term 2 hours 2
Tutorials 2 1 per term 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 153
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen formal examination 2 hours 30 minutes 100% Yes - exam resit
Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical report 50% No
Analytical exercise (Data handling) 50% No

Formative Assessment:

Regular formative assessments including data analysis, interpretation and problem solving throughout the module; 4 assessments over 2 terms.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University