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BIO2030 : Biotechnology: Principles and Practice

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Martin Edwards
  • Lecturer: Professor Angharad MR Gatehouse, Dr Timothy Boswell
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To inform students about the technology that is currently used in the analysis and engineering of genes and to give students practical experience in this technology. Also to introduce the principles of allied technologies (proteomics, transcriptomics, and cell culture) and expose students to relevant industrial uses of these technologies.

Lab practicals will provide students with intensive training in modern molecular biological methods centred around tools and techniques for DNA and protein isolation and characterisation. Students will be taken through a logically connected sequence of experiments on a biological system that will allow them to collect experimental data for presentation and analysis. This helps to equip students to carry out final year laboratory based research projects, as well as increasing their practical and data processing skills.

The module, along with others, provides students with underpinning theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed for the final year biotechnological modules and projects offered by the School.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module introduces the technology currently used in the analysis and engineering of genes. It also introduces the principles of allied technologies (proteomics, transcriptomics, and cell culture) and exposes students to industry through a site visit to a biotech company and provides an introduction to the use of a model-guided design for experimentation in biotechnology.

Lecture topics:

Gene and cDNA cloning
DNA sequencing.
Protein engineering.
High-level regulated expression of heterologous genes in microbial systems.
Genome editing.
Creation of transgenic plants, animals and microorganisms; introduction to applications of the technology in medicine, agriculture and industry.
Outlines of proteomics, transcriptomics.
Outline of plant and animal cell culture.
Introduction to model-guided design for biotechnology.


The lectures will be underpinned by a series of practicals, which will focus on:

PCR from plasmid DNA
Preparing antibiotic screening plates
Transformation of E. coli
Colony PCR to measure transformation success
Plasmid extraction and restriction digestion
Protein extraction, chromatography, quantification, and protein gels

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture71:007:00Formal taught session following review of non-synchronous material
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials73:0021:00Lecture materials and activities based around these materials
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Data analysis report (30%)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00End of module assessment (70%)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical56:0030:00PiP - Students will be present in the laboratory for practical sessions
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading51:005:00Reading to prepare for laboratory sessions
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading72:0014:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities15:005:00Preparation for revision session
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery101:0010:00Module Leader will be available via Teams to answer general student queries.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study145:0045:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk21:303:00Whole-cohort sessions; module introduction and final revision
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures provide factual material; the practical classes introduce and allow students to practise laboratory skills and important techniques; the field trip exposes the students to a biotechnological company, to their industrial site, and to explanations of their purposes and methods.

The practicals give students hands-on experience in fundamental laboratory techniques with appropriate supervision and guidance. Practical skill assessment completed during the workshop will assess knowledge 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.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M30Data analysis report (1000 words plus analysis)
Written exercise2M70Time limited essay (2000 words max, including references)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt2MDaily feedback on lab skills given during lab workshop
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written assessment is designed to test understanding, synthesis and analysis, and retention of the important concepts of recombinant DNA technology. Both subject-specific and key skill learning outcomes are
assessed by the requirement to present a data analysis report in an acceptable scientific format. will receive immediate verbal feedback on the success, and how they can improve the outcome of the experiments performed during the workshop.

Reading Lists