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MMB8031 : Developmental Genetics

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Simon Bamforth
  • Lecturer: Dr Miranda Splitt, Dr Katarzyna Pirog, Professor Helen Arthur, Dr Janet Kerwin, Dr Louise Reynard, Professor Lyle Armstrong, Dr Helen Phillips, Dr Ralf Kist, Dr Colin Miles, Dr Amanda Greenall, Professor David Elliott, Dr Gavin Clowry
  • Owning School: FMS Graduate School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The primary aims of this module are to:

1. introduce students to the genetic mechanisms controlling developmental processes, and to illustrate their importance for identifying and evaluating inherited disorders in humans.

2. provide the students with a comprehensive knowledge about the latest research technologies applied to the analysis and understanding of gene functions in the developing mammalian embryo.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will teach fundamental principles of Developmental Genetics and will explain how they impact on medically relevant research areas. The lectures will include several elements (“Research Focus”) of topical research projects currently carried out by group leaders involved in teaching on this module.

Specifically, the module will consider:

•       The early developmental processes that regulate the establishment of the body plan.

•       How gene activities control the formation of “patterns.”

•       The genetic control regulating the development of major organ systems.

•       Key signalling pathways in development.

•       Human tissue-specific gene expression analysis and digital atlases.

•       Syndromes associated with disrupted functions of key developmental control genes.

•       Practical approaches to investigate gene function in vivo and their application in medical genetics.

•       The importance of developmental processes to the therapeutic potential of embryonic and somatic stem cells.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00Preparation and Sumission of Short Essay
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00Preparation of Presentation and Presentation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture211:0021:00Lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical11:001:00Practical session
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity181:0018:00Additional Reading and Reflective Learning
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study501:0050:00Revision for Examination
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study501:0050:00Preparing Notes from Lectures and Reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The interactive lectures will provide the students with specific knowledge as a platform for private study on current areas of developmental genetic research. The practical provides a platform for interactive exploration of the implication and relevance of developmental genetics upon a spectrum of human disease states. A written essay and an oral presentation to the peer group provide an efficient combination to both help to develop, and to directly examine, these abilities. All of these activities relate directly to the knowledge outcomes above.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A601 essay from a choice of 3
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1M20Presentation of a research paper, 20-30 minutes, in small groups of students
Report1M201500-2000 word critique of research paper
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Interactive lectures and a practical will provide specific knowledge and key facts in Developmental Genetics that will mainly be tested in a written exam, which is in the form of an essay. Lectures on modelling developmental disorders, together with self-directed reading and study will enable the students to critically appraise investigations in the field of Developmental Genetics. Critique of a research paper is to examine the student’s analytical skills and to evaluate experimental data and to understand how principles in developmental genetics impact on a wider area of medical research.

Reading Lists