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NES8305 : Biotechnology: Advanced Topics

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Thomas Howard
  • Lecturer: Dr James Stach, Dr Maxim Kapralov, Dr Timothy Boswell, Professor William Willats, Professor Angharad MR Gatehouse
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


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
•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 completion150:0050:00Exam preparation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion124:0024:00Coursework preparation
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading103:0030:00To study of materials provided
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading102:0020:00To review taught content
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops62:0012:00PC clusters/workshops
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study139:0039:00To advance beyond taught content
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