Postgraduate

BIO8043 : Practical Techniques in Molecular Biology

Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

To provide integrated training in:
a) the planning and conduct of laboratory investigations;
b) recording and interpreting experimental data;
c) conducting experiments in a safe and responsible manner;
This provides formative training, assessment and feedback, equipping students to carry out their research projects in module NES8002, as well as increasing their practical and data processing skills. The workshop concentrates specifically on molecular biology techniques, and introduces students to the rigour of scientific experiments and data interpretation.

This workshop takes students away from their usual short-term practical class format for 5 days of intensive training in modern molecular biological methods centred around tools and techniques for DNA and protein isolation and characterisation. The intensive training is followed by an individual research exercise whereby the students will apply their new skills in the cloning and expression of an E. coli gene. During the intensive training session members of academic staff and demonstrators will be available each day for general training, supervision and data interpretation, and to ensure safe working practices. Students will be given feedback on their practical skills and given specific pointers on how to improve. For the individual exercise, students will be expected to organise their own time-keeping, experiments, and records. Technicians and academic staff will be available to offer guidance, but students will be responsible for all of their own work.

Outline Of Syllabus

Genomic DNA extraction
PCR
DNA ligation and plasmid construction
Preparation of media
Transformation of E. coli
Colony screening
Plasmid extraction and sequencing
Protein expression and purification
Acrylamide gel electrophoresis

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion71:007:00In course assessment (60%) - Short weekly assessment based on task, 7 tasks in total. Students to co
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Exam (40%) - Oral presentation .
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials71:007:00Online via Canvas - A combination of short recordings of lecture material and text published on VLE
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities72:0014:00Online via Canvas - Follow up workshop from lecture
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading162:0032:00Online - module lecturer will give students relevant reading for module topics throughout the semest
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical53:0015:00PiP - Students will be present in the laboratory for practical sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical33:009:00PiP - Students will be present in the laboratory for practical sessions
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion72:0014:00Online via Canvas - Students have opportunity to discuss weekly task via Canvas discussion board. In
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity152:0030:00Students to reflect on practical and workshop sessions. A series of questions to prompt reflection
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study154:0054:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk13:003:00PiP - Student talks for Exam (oral presentation). Session will run simultaneously on Zoom for...
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The practicals give students hands-on experience in fundamental laboratory techniques with appropriate supervision and guidance. Assessment of problem solving ability and practical skill assessment completed during the workshop will assess knowledge outcomes of methodology. Private study, both during and after the workshop, is necessary for students to absorb information gained from instruction and practical work, to deepen knowledge and understanding through reading of supporting references, and to prepare assignments on data analysis and comprehension. The individual component of the practical is intended to prepare students for working by themselves, as students often begin their research thesis projects without ever having been exposed to wholly independent practical exercises. The overall rationale is for students to practise the fundamental research skill around which their lecture content is based, and to ensure that all of the students have been adequately prepared for their research thesis projects.

The Present in Person (PiP) and synchronous teaching events will also be accessible as streamed or recorded videos that students can access synchronously or after the event. Whilst this cannot provide the hands-on experience it will demonstrate the techniques.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination201M40in groups of 4 or 5 students will present the findings of the research exercise
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1M60Combination of 7 smaller assessments performed during the Online via Canvas activities
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Lab exercise1MDuring the first week of exercises students will receive detailed feedback on how to improve their practical results.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment of lab skills will indicate the level of technical ability the students have when joining the course and will allow them to reflect upon how these progress during the module. In addition the problem solving exercise tests student’s deep knowledge of molecular biology techniques and requires them to further research these before providing a solution.

The research exercise will be assessed via a group oral presentation. This will encourage the students to distil the background information and the results gained into a very concise format without losing the focus of the research. In addition, the practical skills developed in the lab this assessment will foster team work and interpersonal management skills whilst also challenging the students to perform a thorough search of the accompanying literature.

Formative assessment will be used throughout the laboratory session to guide students into making the correct choice on how to proceed. Furthermore through discussion students will be encouraged to support each other in finding the best route to not only achieving the desired result but to also understand the underlying mechanisms of the techniques.

Reading Lists

Timetable