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MMB8031 : Developmental Genetics

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Simon Bamforth
  • Lecturer: Dr Janet Kerwin, Dr Louise Reynard, Professor David Elliott, Dr Helen Phillips, Dr Ralf Kist, Professor Lyle Armstrong, Dr Amanda Greenall, Dr Gavin Clowry, Dr Colin Miles, Dr Katarzyna Pirog
  • Owning School: FMS Graduate School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The primary aims of this module are to:

1. introduce students to the genetic mechanisms controlling developmental processes, and to illustrate their importance for identifying and evaluating inherited disorders in humans.

2. provide the students with a comprehensive knowledge about the latest research technologies applied to the analysis and understanding of gene functions in the developing mammalian embryo.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will teach fundamental principles of Developmental Genetics and will explain how they impact on medically relevant research areas through the delivery of the taught sessions describing topical research projects currently carried out by group leaders involved in teaching on this module.

Specifically, the module will consider:

•       The early developmental processes that regulate the establishment of the body plan.

•       How gene activities control the formation of “patterns.”

•       The genetic control regulating the development of major organ systems.

•       Key signalling pathways in development.

• The role of DNA enhancers and target gene expression in development.

•       Human tissue-specific gene expression analysis and digital atlases.

•       Syndromes associated with disrupted functions of key developmental control genes.

•       Practical approaches to investigate gene function in vivo and their application in medical genetics.

•       The importance of developmental processes to the therapeutic potential of embryonic and somatic stem cells.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture92:0018:00Present in person (PIP): Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion221:0022:00Preparation of Presentation on research paper
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion451:0045:00Preparation and Submission of 2000 word critique of research paper
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials51:005:00Non-synchronous online: pre-recorded lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical11:001:00Present in person (PIP): Practical Session
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Present in person (PIP): Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Present in person (PIP): Delivery of presentation in front of teaching staff for assessing
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity181:0018:00Additional Reading and Reflective Learning
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study401:0040:00Preparing Notes from Lectures, Seminars and Reading
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study451:0045:00Revision for Examination
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures and interactive seminars will provide the students with specific knowledge as a platform for private study on current areas of developmental genetic research. The practical provides a platform for interactive exploration of the implication and relevance of developmental genetics upon a spectrum of human disease states.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A601 essay from a choice of 3 questions
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M402000 word critique of a research paper
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises1MPresentation of a research paper, 10 minutes, individually
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Lectures on modelling developmental disorders, small group teaching (seminars), and a practical will provide specific knowledge and key facts in Developmental Genetics. Together with self-directed reading and study this will enable the students to critically appraise investigations in the field of Developmental Genetics. A summative assessment in critiquing a research paper, in the form of a 2000 word essay, will test the student’s analytical skills, to evaluate experimental data and to understand how principles in developmental genetics impact on a wider area of medical research. A summative end of module written exam will test the student’s knowledge, understanding and critical thinking skills, as well as engagement with the series of lectures, seminars and practicals delivered throughout the module.

A formative assessment of an oral presentation of a published research paper will the give the student experience in communicating scientific data to an audience of their peers and lecturers. Verbal feedback will be given for this.

Reading Lists