Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to None


  • • Level 2 Molecular Biology (BIOL2441) OR Level 2 Clinical Genetics and Biochemistry (BIOL2561)


  • • At least one other Level 3 Biological Sciences Module from the following list: Behavioural Ecology BIOL3561, Conservation Biology BIOL3551, Ecology in the Anthropocene BIOL3541, Advanced Topics in Development BIOL3521, Stress and Responses to the Environment BIOL3491, Crops for the Future BIOL3611, Biochemistry and Biotechnology BIOL3601, Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering BIOL3531, Ageing and Age-Related Diseases BIOL3591, Advanced Cell Biology BIOL3481, Biology of Disease BIOL3621.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • None


  • To provide a basis for modern understanding of the genome as a fundamental resource for study of biological organisms.
  • To describe the methodology of modern genomics, both in terms of sequencing methods, and of the use of information technology to organise and interpret genomic sequence data.
  • To describe methods based on genomics used to study gene expression and its control.
  • To show how genomics can be used to investigate a range of problems, including variability within and between species, and environmental analysis.
  • To describe how genomic information can be used in "reverse genetics" to predict function and phenotype.
  • To exemplify the value of genome information for model organisms in addressing biological problems.


  • Moving beyond the limitations of classical genetics - why genome sequences open up new possibilities.
  • Nucleic acid sequencing technologies - the impact of next generation sequencing.
  • Handling and analysing sequence information at the genome level.
  • Transcriptomes and analysis of gene expression.
  • Comparative genomics; environmental genomics and metagenomes.
  • Functional genomics - prediction of protein function.
  • Genomes and model organisms - understanding the basis of phenotype.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of methods for obtaining nucleic acid sequence data, and how these data are assembled to form genomic resources for organisms.
  • Knowledge of the nature and significance of variation in genomes and sequences derived from them, both within a species, and between species.
  • Knowledge of methods for sequence analysis, and prediction of gene function from genomic information.
  • Knowledge of how genomic information can be used in analyses of gene expression networks and wider phenotypes at the organism level.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to query genomic databases to extract information on specific genes and gene products based on minimal input data.
  • To be able to operate a range of predictive algorithms based on genomic sequence data.
  • To be able to critically evaluate conclusions of studies on genome properties and evolution.
Key Skills:
  • Literacy, in being able to consult and extract information from printed and on-line archives.
  • Information skills, in being able to use database resources for genomic information.
  • Data analysis, in interpretation and critical analysis of published data sets, bioinformatic methodology and web-based resources within the topic of genomics.
  • 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.
  • Self-guided learning contributes to subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation.
  • Analytical / Data Handling Exercises are based on subject-specific knowledge.
  • Unseen examinations demonstrate achievement of the appropriate level of subject-specific knowledge of genomics, with an emphasis on understanding and communication (essay and problem-based questions).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 35 Weekly 2 hours p/w 35
Workshops 2 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 163
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Unseen formal examination Component Weighting: 80%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen formal examination 3 hours 100% No
Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Analytical exercise 100% No

Formative Assessment:


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