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BIO1020 : Genetics and Evolution

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Tahar Taybi
  • Lecturer: Dr Maxim Kapralov, Dr Ankush Prashar, Dr Emmi Hall, Dr James Kitson
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To develop a basic understanding of genetic principles and their application in biology.
To give an introduction to the concepts and principles of inheritance of genetic characters, their recombination and linkages.
To give a basic understanding of the genetic code and the replication of DNA.
To outline how genes are expressed into proteins, via transcription and translation.
To review the methods used to study the genetic material and how these methods are used in different applications.
To review the evidence for evolution from the fossil record, earth history, and comparisons of living organisms in terms of structure, function and genetic constitution.
To outline mechanisms for evolution, especially in terms of artificial and natural selection and genetic drift.
To explore the observational and experimental evidence for the role of these mechanisms in causing evolution.

Outline Of Syllabus

Genetics content
•       Introduction to the module: key elements of genetics and evolution.
•       Mitosis and meiosis: Cell cycle and chromosome replication.
•       Recombination and segregation, the basis of variability.
•       Transmission (Mendelian) Genetics: Key concepts and vocabulary.
•       Molecular genetics: Introduction to molecular genetics, DNA structure, Genomes, packaging of DNA, DNA replication.
•       DNA-RNA-Protein: The process of protein synthesis, transcription, structure of RNA, RNA processing in eukaryotes, Architecture of eukaryotic genes, functional importance of processing events.
•       Translation: Ribosome structure, RNA molecules, mechanism of protein synthesis.
•       Regulation of gene expression, Eukaryotic regulation.
•       Analytical techniques in molecular genetics and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
•       Recombinant DNA technology: Components of the technology
Evolution content
•       Genome size and evolution.
•       The origin and evolutionary characteristics of chloroplasts and mitochondria..
•       Molecular clocks and molecular evolution.
•       Molecular evolution and phylogeny.
•       Phylogenetic trees.
•       Earth history, mass extinctions.
•       Human evolution.
•       Evolution by selection and drift.
•       Natural selection.
•       Causes of evolution, adaptive radiation, rates of evolution.
•       The nature of variation and evolution without selection.
•       Special types of selection and constraints on adaptation
•       Speciation mechanisms.
•       Sympatric speciation.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture301:0030:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion14:004:00Preparation of the lab-report
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Final exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical23:006:00Genetics lab + Museum practical
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading183:0054:00Reading supporting material revision
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Evolution seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Genetics workshop + Evolution workshop
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study301:0030:00Lecture follow- up
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study332:0066:00Study of lectures, RECAP, Blackboard etc
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The main body of factual information is delivered by means of lectures.
Some of the fundamental concepts are reinforced by the group teaching activities and practical exercises, plus independent exercise work and worksheet exercises.
The practicals introduce the necessary skills we are seeking to impart

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination1202A70Exam comprise a PC component which consists of MCQs and problem solving and short essay questions to be answered on paper
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report2M30Lab report, 3000 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2M(3 x Problem solving and written exercises)
Written exercise2MGenetics Workshop computer assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Lectures and practical materials together with the directed reading provide questions for formal assessment based on the knowledge acquired during these activities. The assessment will focus on testing depth and breadth of factual knowledge and general understanding of the concepts and implications in each subject area. The practical reports and in class tests are designed to assess the ability to understand and perform practical activities, record findings and interpret experimental results.

Reading Lists