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NES2306 : Biotechnology: Principles and Practice

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Martin Edwards
  • Lecturer: Professor Angharad MR Gatehouse, Dr Thomas Howard, Dr Timothy Boswell
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


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 synthetic biology as well as genome engineering using CRISPR. 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:

Synthetic biology Tools
Metabolic Engineering
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/drop-out screening plates
Transforming and Genome Engineering of Yeast cells using CRISPR
Colony PC to measure CRISPR success
Plasmid extraction and restriction digestion
Protein extraction, chromatography, quantification, and protein gels

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Lab Report 2 (70%).
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Lab Report 1 (30%) .
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture171:0017:00Formal taught session following review of nonsynchronous material.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion82:0016:00Preparation for and reflection on practical sessions.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical54:0020:00PiP - Students will be present in the laboratory for practical sessions.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading132:0032:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical33:009:00PiP - Students will be present in the laboratory for practical sessions.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops23:006:00PiP - Students will be present in computing cluster to complement practical sessions.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00Compulsory peer review of Lab Report 1.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk21:002:00Whole-cohort sessions; module introduction, mid-module review.
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
Report2M30Lab report 1
Report2M70Lab report 2
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

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