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BIO8044 : Biotechnology: Advanced Topics

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Thomas Howard
  • Lecturer: Dr Maxim Kapralov, Dr Timothy Boswell, Professor William Willats, Professor Angharad MR Gatehouse, Dr James Stach
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module provides participants with an understanding of contemporary biotechnology. It covers both current topics and the methods that underpin work in this field. It provides opportunities for participants to actively learn through the application of taught methods to biotechnological problems. In this respect in particular, the module emphasises the importance of computational analysis to biotechnology. Finally, the module requires participants to develop their own detailed knowledge, critical analysis skills and understanding of the latest developments in the field.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module includes the following topics:
•Design and assembly of gene constructs,
•Design and assembly of synthetic genomes,
•Gene transfer to (and genetic modification of) plants, microbes and animals,
•Current and future applications of biotechnology in agricultural, pharmaceutical, medical or industrial sectors,
•Genome editing,
•Protein design,
•Metabolic engineering,
•Cell-free synthetic biology
•Molecular probes,
•Methods and applications of statistical Design of Experiments in biotechnology,
•Methods and applications of mathematical modelling in biotechnology.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion124:0024:00Coursework
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Exam
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading181:0018:00Review Seminar Material
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading32:006:00DoE material only, review of modelling workshop is covered in preparation for coursework.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading182:0036:00From seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching181:0018:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops62:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study136:0036:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module uses two primary teaching methods:
(i) seminars that provide knowledge and context for directed reading material - these activities support the knowledge and understanding learning objectives; and (ii) workshops that allow skill development in computational aspects of biotechnology. While these complement the knowledge and understanding learning objectives, they are focussed on developing computational skills required in biotechnology.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A70N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M30Coursework Assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The exam will assess participants knowledge and understanding of contemporary applications of biotechnology, assess understanding of the importance of the design-build-test cycle for engineering biology and assess understand the role of computational analysis in engineering biological systems. The coursework elements will assess participants ability to construct mathematical models of simple biotechnological systems (e.g., a biochemical pathways or gene network) to meet a particular goal.

Reading Lists