Undergraduate

modules

Modules

BIO8043 : Practical Techniques in Molecular Biology

Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

To provide integrated training in:
a) the planning and conduct of laboratory investigations;
b) recording and interpreting experimental data;
c) conducting experiments in a safe and responsible manner;
This provides formative training, assessment and feedback, equipping students to carry out their research projects in module BIO8096, as well as increasing their practical and data processing skills. The workshop concentrates specifically on molecular biology techniques, and introduces students to the rigour of scientific experiments and data interpretation.

This workshop takes students away from their usual short-term practical class format for 5 days of intensive training in modern molecular biological methods centred around tools and techniques for DNA and protein isolation and characterisation. The intensive training is followed by an individual research exercise whereby the students will apply their new skills in the cloning and expression of an E. coli gene. During the intensive training session members of academic staff and demonstrators will be available each day for general training, supervision and data interpretation, and to ensure safe working practices. Students will be given feedback on their practical skills and given specific pointers on how to improve. For the individual exercise, students will be expected to organise their own time-keeping, experiments, and records. Technicians and academic staff will be available to offer guidance, but students will be responsible for all of their own work.

Outline Of Syllabus

Genomic DNA extraction
PCR
DNA ligation and plasmid construction
Preparation of media
Transformation of E. coli
Colony screening
Plasmid extraction and sequencing
Protein expression and purification
Acrylamide gel electrophoresis

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion220:0040:00Lab report
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion82:0016:00Practical assessment exercise & student interpretation of pre-set results for different techniques.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading81:008:00Online material supplied to provide in-depth understanding of techniques being applied
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical58:0040:00Individual study research project - cloning, purification and identification of an E. coli protein.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical84:0032:00Series of laboratory-based experiments focusing on the acquisition of key skills
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00Discussion of information supplied in directed research & reading, and instructions for lab class
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops35:0015:00Student led practical classes to allow revision of skills or to take part in small directed project.
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity111:0011:00Using a Lab Book & Reflective Log Students will be encourage to critically reflect upon their work.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00N/A
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The practicals give students hands-on experience in fundamental laboratory techniques with appropriate supervision and guidance. Assessment of problem solving ability and practical skill assessment completed during the workshop will assess knowledge outcomes of methodology. Private study, both during and after the workshop, is necessary for students to absorb information gained from instruction and practical work, to deepen knowledge and understanding through reading of supporting references, and to prepare assignments on data analysis and comprehension. The individual component of the practical is intended to prepare students for working by themselves, as students often begin their research thesis projects without ever having been exposed to wholly independent practical exercises. The overall rationale is for students to practise the fundamental research skill around which their lecture content is based, and to ensure that all of the students have been adequately prepared for their research thesis projects.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M40Mini Project
Prof skill assessmnt1M60Lab Skills and Problem Solving assessment
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Lab exercise1MDuring the first week of exercises students will receive detailed feedback on how to improve their practical results.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment of lab skills will indicate the level of technical ability the students have when joining the course and will allow them to reflect upon how these progress during the module. In addition the problem solving exercise tests student’s deep knowledge of molecular biology techniques and requires them to further research these before providing a solution.

Assessment of the mini-project will be based on the preparation of a lab report describing and interpreting the results gained therein. The individual project assessment is intended to familiarise students with the importance of good laboratory practice and to prepare students to take ownership of their work and claim responsibility for their data.

Formative assessment will be used throughout the laboratory session to guide students into making the correct choice on how to proceed. Furthermore through discussion students will be encouraged to support each other in finding the best route to not only achieving the desired result but to also understand the underlying mechanisms of the techniques.

Reading Lists

Timetable