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NES8305 : Biotechnology: Advanced Topics

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Thomas Howard
  • Lecturer: Dr Maxim Kapralov, Dr James Stach
  • 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 covers the following:

• Engineering principles in biotechnology,
• Design and assembly of gene constructs,
• Design and assembly of synthetic genomes,
• Metabolic engineering,
• Genome engineering,
• Protein engineering,
• 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 completion180:0080:00Coursework prep - requires mastering a new skill as well as preparing for the coursework.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture52:0010:00Lecture material covers theory and introduces topics and research papers.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading122:0022:00Reviewing notes from seminars. Includes review time for DoE workshop material (modelling workshop is covered by time to prep for coursework).
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading125:0025:00Detailed examination of the studies (i.e. major contemporary biotechnology projects and theories) highlighted in the lectures/seminars.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00Theory/activities ahead of three of the modelling workshops.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching22:004:00One session covers introduction to DoE and the other covers the final module session.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops82:0016:00PC Clusters: COPASI and JMP Pro required on the machines
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study140:0040:00Additional self-identified contemporary research papers going beyond the directed reading (covers all taught content).
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module uses two primary teaching methods:

(i) Lectures and seminars that provide knowledge and context for directed reading material - these activities support the knowledge, understanding and skills outcomes; and

(ii) Workshops that allow skill development in computational aspects of biotechnology.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M100Coursework Assessment - 5 page maximum
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Observ of prof pract1MFormative assessment for the coursework is provided continuously throughout the module in the following ways: 1. in person during the workshops and 2. asynchronously, through the use of Canvas discussion boards.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The coursework requires students to bring together their knowledge of contemporary applications of biotechnology with their understanding of the importance of the design-build-test cycle for engineering biology. Specifically, the coursework assesses participants ability to design their own biotechnological system (e.g., a biochemical pathways or synthetic gene network) that meets a particular design challenge, and to construct and analyse a mathematical models of their proposed system.

Reading Lists