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BGM3062 : Genetics of Development and its Disorders

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor John Sayer
  • Lecturer: Dr Gavin Clowry, Dr Colin Miles, Dr Katarzyna Pirog
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The module aims are:

•       to provide an overview of vertebrate development
•       to describe in more detail the development of several organ systems.
•       to identify key developmental processes and the genes and genetic pathways that are involved
•       to consider how the same gene families are important in the development of multiple organs and that there are processes that are common to the development of many organs.
•       to consider the role of developmental genes in genetic disorders

Outline Of Syllabus

Many human disorders have a developmental origin and knowledge of the processes underpinning development is an important step towards understanding gene function and disease mechanisms. As the normal and abnormal development of a range of model organisms is analysed as part of studies of gene function, this module will include information from several species, although it is focused on vertebrate development.

The module will provide an overview of key concepts in vertebrate development and a framework for understanding developmental research and its role in underpinning research on human genetic disorders.

The module syllabus will include:

•       establishment of the basic body plan
•       establishment and breaking of symmetry
•       development of organs derived from endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm covering their patterning and organization from stem cells to genetic disorders. Examples might be gut, kidney, limb, the hematopoietic system and brain.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion121:0012:00Generation of research paper
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture151:0015:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00Working through online expression/development database
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00workshop/seminar on ethics
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study691:0069:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide the majority of the knowledge base, and should stimulate the students to reflect and do further reading (independent study). Workshops 1) will expose the students to ethical concerns surrounding use of animals and human tissues in research 2) provide the key foundation for generation of the in course assessed research paper which they will complete as guided independent study.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A80One essay question to be answered from a choice of two (60 mins 70% of the marks) compulsory short answer questions (30 mins 30%)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper1M20Arising from use of developmental databases. Written exercise, 1,500 words maximum'
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination provides evidence of knowledge and understanding of the topic. The essay enables the students to show their depths of understanding of one aspect of the module while the short answer questions enable knowledge and understanding over the breadth of the module to be demonstrated.
The research paper tests ability to synthesize data from online resources, will further understanding of the topic, and critical evaluation skills.

Reading Lists