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BIO3042 : Biotechnology: Applications

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Maxim Kapralov
  • Lecturer: Dr Jon Marles-Wright, Professor William Willats, Professor Angharad MR Gatehouse, Professor Frank Sargent, Dr Thomas Howard
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Biotechnology provides food and materials used by humans, and is central to modern medicine. This module aims to show how genes can be modified and transferred among organisms; to illustrate how this technology leads to practical applications.
The module’s teaching is research-led, using up-to-date scientific literature and interactive teaching sessions. Students will read research papers and learn how to critically analyse them to facilitate learning.

Outline Of Syllabus

The genetic modification of organisms to enhance their usefulness to humans is becoming increasingly important in industry, agriculture and medicine. This module deals with how and why various organisms are genetically transformed using a suite of technologies, and how these technologies have led to practical applications in industry, agriculture and medicine.

Lecture topics:
Gene editing, synthetic biology, DNA assembly and gene networks, antibodies and modern research techniques.
The use of genetically modified microorganisms to produce enzymes for industrial applications. Genetic modification of plants for herbicide and pest resistance, to improve food quality, and for industrial and medical applications.
Introduction to metabolic and protein engineering.

Wiki based research project of genetic modification.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials201:0020:00Online lecture materials via Canvas
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Case studies of genetic modification (1500 words)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Alternative home assessment, to be submitted via Turnitin.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading162:0032:00Online - lecturers will give students relevant reading for module topics throughout the semester
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Online synchronous tutorial via zoom to facilitate the understanding of taught material
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity401:0040:00Lecture follow up
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study391:0039:00Reading of text books and online papers, reviewing on-line lecture materials and short videos
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The non synchronous lecture materials will explain key concepts and outline illustrative examples using short video and audio recordings plus PowerPoint slides. For each lecture 50 min videos or PowerPoint Audios will be made available to students. This will be followed up by scheduled synchronous online Zoom sessions (9 in total) delivered by the different lecturers to recap a topic, answer student questions and test understanding via interactive quizzes. Each lecturer will also engage in on-line discussion to answer questions or set up discussion points to help students prepare for final assessments. Private study will augment the framework given by lectures and engender depth of understanding through extensive reading of primary literature with a high scientific impact. Coursework is directed towards preparing and critically synthesising information in a concise manner, encouraging teamwork, and developing practical research skills.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2A30Case studies of genetic modification (1500 words) which counts for 30% of module mark to be submitted via Turnitin
Written exercise2M70Home assessment to be submitted via Turnitin
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The at-home assessment (70%) will consist of 2 essays that will cover all topics presented in the lectures. Students will tackle one question from each section and the essay-type format of answers will allow students to demonstrate their understanding and critical synthesis of the concepts outlined by the lectures, enhanced by the depth resulting from additional reading of the scientific literature that is recommended throughout the course. The case study (30%) tests the ability of students to analyse a particular topic in depth and to interpret research literature.

Reading Lists