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BIO8005 : Global challenges: biotech solutions

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor William Willats
  • Lecturer: Professor Angharad MR Gatehouse, Professor Neil Gray, Professor Robert Edwards
  • Other Staff: Dr Martin Spurr
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


•       To expose students to the concepts of how research is translated from fundamental molecular biology through to development of new commercialised analytical technologies, sustainable product development in a range of industrial contexts.
•       To elaborate on how biotechnology is applied towards solving industrial challenges
•       To make students aware confidentiality issues and intellectual property rights (IPR) in commercial environment
•       To elaborate on critical assessments of social, ethical and environmental impacts of commercial research in context of demographic needs

Outline Of Syllabus

An introduction to the applications of biotechnology in commercial environments, solving industrial challenges and new product development. The module is built around a number of global challenges (sustainable manufacturing, food security, reducing water use etc) and industry’s responses to them. Each challenge will be represented by a package of 2-3 lectures. One lecture will be from NU staff, introducing the challenge and some of the technical research context, and this will be followed by one or two or three lectures from industry speakers. As a package of lectures, this will expose students to the pathways of research from fundamental to commercial testing and application of products, and IP issues governing how research is communicated. The module will also address environmental and socio-economic impacts of industrial challenges and how they feed into the development of sustainable solutions.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture31:003:00Seminars supporting assessment preparation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:001000-2000 word case study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading124:0024:00Completion of post-lecture directed reading.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork24:008:00Visits to industrial sites
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study137:0037:00Study of lectures, recap, Canvas, etc
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The academic and industrial lectures will both review background and present cutting edge in molecular and biotechnological research progress towards solving industrial challenges, based here in Newcastle and at local, national and international industries.
The lectures will present real case studies of industrial biotech research currently being practiced to develop future products. From these lectures, students will select one of the industrial challenges to independently research further to write a case study report.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M100Case study report 2000 words max
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The case study report will set the challenge for students to select one of the industrial challenges presented via the package of academic and industrial lectures, conduct further reading of primary and secondary published sources of information, and write a review based on the fundamental research and industrial progress that has been achieved in the selected challenge theme.
Students will be supported in writing the review through a series of structured seminars, building on the writing skills that they have learnt and been assessed on in other modules on the ICB course.
The case study will challenge students to piece together multiple pieces of research and development that has led to progress on an industrially impacted grand challenge, and challenge and think logically about the implications on environment and socio-economic sustainable development, and where future challenges may lay.

Reading Lists