CSC8318 : Synthetic Biology Group Project

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


- To have experience as part of a multidisciplinary team designing synthetic biological systems.
- To gain familiarity with existing synthetic and systems biology applications.
- To acquire skills in identifying new application areas in synthetic biology.
- To acquire hands on experience in computational design, modelling and simulation of synthetic genetic and biochemical systems.
- To acquire hands on experience in developing appropriate in-vitro implementation strategies for synthetic genetic and biochemical system.
- To acquire skills in documenting and communicating a synthetic biology project.

One of the major approaches to teaching synthetic biology is the iGEM project. iGEM is a student synthetic biology competition where students compete in teams to design and implement biological systems using an engineering approach based on standard biological parts. This project has become very popular since it involves students from a variety of different fields working together in teams to design and implement a synthetic biological system. This module adopts an iGEM approach to a team exercise, including the identification of an appropriate project, background research, computational design and modelling and design of an implementation strategy. The module is very research- and practically-focussed.

Outline Of Syllabus

Introduction to synthetic biology.
Ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of synthetic biology
Synthetic biology applications.
Considerations in synthetic system specification and design.
Practical approaches to modelling and simulation of synthetic biology designs.
Practical approaches to in-vitro implementation and assembly.
Practical approaches to part, device and system testing and documentation.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion151:0015:00Lecture follow-up
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture51:005:00Lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical211:0021:00Practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Seminars & tutorials
Guided Independent StudyProject work211:0021:00Coursework
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study281:0028:00Background reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will be used to introduce the learning material and for demonstrating the key concepts by example. Students are expected to follow-up lectures within a few days by re-reading and annotating lecture notes to aid deep learning.

Project meetings both formal and informal, will provide team members and the team monitor with the opportunity to follow progress and address team issues.

Students aiming for 1st class marks are expected to widen their knowledge beyond the content of lecture notes through background reading.

Students should set aside sufficient time to revise for the end of semester exam.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prof skill assessmnt2M65Group work. (Includes website and powerpoint slides relating to design of group project.)
Prof skill assessmnt2M35Individual work. Report max 1,000 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The presentation will be used to evaluate the students’ understanding of the team’s work, the background to the project together with the proposed solution and presentation skills. The Wiki website group component will also be used to evaluate the students’ approach to the problem and the development of this approach over time. The individual component will comprise a diary and description of each student’s individual contribution to the group project.

Reading Lists