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BGM3056 : Evolution and Genomics

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Robert Hirt
  • Lecturer: Dr Sergey Melnikov
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

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

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


i.       To provide a general understanding of how ideas from evolutionary biology inform, and are informed by, genomic science.
ii.       To provide some deeper insights into the origin and evolution of the eukaryotic genome and the roles of gene and genome duplication, vertical inheritance, lateral gene transfer and endosymbiosis in its formation and diversification.
iii.       To highlight how studies of parasite genomes have provided general insights into how genomes evolve as well as clues to pathogenic mechanisms and potential therapies.
iv.       To provide knowledge and understanding of the tools used to analyse genomes.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture and directed study material:

•       Evolutionary biology describes the history of life and explains why organisms and genomes are the way they are.
•       Definitions and concepts, homology, descent with modification and natural selection, evidence for evolution, the new synthesis, neutral theory.
•       The first whole genome sequences, the technology and discoveries, large-scale patterns and processes of genome evolution. How do prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes differ?
•       Making sense of the data - how are genomes analysed, bioinformatics: computer tools for recognising genes and structure – function prediction. RNA-Seq, proteomics and other ‘omic technologies.
•       Phylogenetics, as a tool for understanding the evolution of genes, genomes and species. The origins of eukaryotic genomes, lateral gene transfer and vertical inheritance, endosymbiosis and eukaryotic evolution, is there a tree of life and what does it mean?      
•       Comparative analyses and insights from parasite genomes, obligate intracellular, and extracellular parasites (Microsporidia and Trichomonas case studies and viruses).
• The human microbiota in health and disease, new insights from metagenomics.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00In person
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00In person seminar: Introduction to ICA and Q&A sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study187:0087:00Writing up lecture notes, revision and general reading.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures impart knowledge of key issues in genomic science. Genomics is a rapidly evolving field - directed reading from discovery and review journals will be used to keep abreast of key developments and to encourage critical faculties.

Private study is necessary for students to absorb information presented in lectures and for self-assessment, to deepen their knowledge and understanding through directed reading, to become familiar with the web and its resources for genome analysis.

The scheduled seminar, interactive with the students, provides an opportunity for Q&A sessions to help revise the taught material, and to introduce the in-course assessment - Invigilated Timed Essay (1 hour)

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination602A70Invigilated exam, 1 essay question from choice of 2
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M30Invigilated Timed Essay(60 min)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination provides evidence of knowledge and understanding of the topics.

The timed essay will provide evidence of critical analysis of published work and clarity of communication of scientific ideas.

Reading Lists