Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap 288 Location Durham


  • • 'A' Level Biology OR Chemistry.


  • • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • None


  • To review the development of genetics as a science, from the experiments of Mendel to genome sequencing.
  • To introduce the processes which link genotype to phenotype in living organisms.
  • To provide an overview of the modern technologies for genetic analysis and manipulation.


  • Classical (Mendelian) genetics and heredity.
  • Molecular aspects of storage and transmission of genetic information, including nucleic acid structure, replication and genome characterisation.
  • Expression and translation of genetic information.
  • Gene cloning and bioinformatics.
  • Genetic variation and genetic fingerprinting.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Basic knowledge of the role of genetics in determining characteristics of living organisms, how genetic information is maintained and transmitted to offspring, and the molecular basis of genetic information.
  • Basic knowledge of how genetic information is translated into the phenotypes of organisms through the processes of transcription, and translation.
  • Basic knowledge of molecular biology and its applications in genetic analysis and manipulation.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to understand and report on experimental work in genetics, including studying and culturing living organisms and molecular biology.
  • To be able to apply problem-solving skills to practical problems in genetics, including the use of mathematic and statistics.
Key Skills:
  • Numeracy, in data analysis, statistics, and calculation involved in genetics problems.
  • Communication skills, using the written word and graphics, involved in genetics practical reports.
  • Team work.
  • 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 exercises 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 assignments are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in understanding experimental work and data analysis, as well as key skills.
  • Problem exercises (Data Handling) demonstrate subject-specific skills in data handling and key skills in numeracy applied to genetics and molecular biology.
  • Unseen examinations demonstrate achievement of the appropriate level of subject-specific knowledge of genetics and molecular biology, 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 Exercises 4 2 per term 4 hours 16
Workshops & Tutorials 4 2 per term 1-3 hours 8
Preparation & Reading 141
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen formal examination 2 hours 100% Yes - exam resit
Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical Report or Data Handling 62.5% No
Departmental Test 37.5% No

Formative Assessment:

Work associated with non-summatively assessed practicals and workshops.

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