BIO2030 : Methods in Biotechnology: Principles, Theory and Practice

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 industry through a site visit and an introduction to intellectual property.

Lab practicals will provide students with intensive training in modern molecular biological methods centered 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 provides formative training, assessment and feedback, equipping students to carry out final year laboratory based research projects in module BIO3196, as well as increasing their practical and data processing skills. The practicals concentrate specifically on molecular biology and biochemistry tools and techniques, and introduce students to the rigour of scientific experiments and data interpretation.

The module, along with others, provides students with the appropriate underpinning theoretical knowledge and practical skills 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 and an introduction to the use of a model-guided design for experimentation in biotechnology.
1. How to clone a bacterial gene.
2. How to isolate a cDNA encoding a specific protein.
3. DNA sequencing.
4. Protein engineering.
5. High-level regulated expression of heterologous genes in microbial systems (E. coli, P. pastoris).
6. Genome editing.
7. Creation of transgenic plants, animals and microorganisms; introduction to applications of the technology in medicine, agriculture and industry.
8. Outlines of proteomics, transcriptomics.
9. Outline of plant and animal cell culture.
10. Introduction to model-guided design for biotechnology.
11. Site visit to Centre for Product Innovation (CPI), Redcar.
12. Revision sessions/Exam surgeries.

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

1) PCR from plasmid DNA
2) Preparing antibiotic screening plates
3) Transformation of E. coli
4) Colony PCR to confirm transformation success and calculation of transformation
5) Plasmid extraction and restriction digestion
6) Protein extraction, chromatography, quantification, and protein gels
7) Experimental manipulation of bacterial gene expression using nutrients

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Essay
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture22:154:30Revision sessions / exam surgeries
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture151:0015:00Directed reading
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion62:3015:00Lab skill assessment reflection
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:301:30Final exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:307:30Revision for final exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Data analysis report
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture151:0015:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical65:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork15:005:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity91:009:00Reflective blog
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study52:3012:30Practical preparation and follow-up
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study151:0015:00Lecture follow up
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00Consolidation of new technical knowledge with underlying principles
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures provide factual material; the practical classes introduce and allow students to practise laboratory skills and important techniques; the seminars provide periods to introduce and discuss topics not practised in the laboratory; 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 outcomes 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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M25Essay (max. 2000 words)
Report2M15Data analysis report (500 words plus analysis)
Prof skill assessmnt2M10Lab skills assessment
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Reflective log2MReflective blog on the peer marking exercise
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The exam is designed to test understanding, synthesis and analysis, and retention of the important concepts of recombinant DNA technology. The assessed practical work will assess both the practical skill and knowledge based learning outcomes of the workshop. The essay will test knowledge-based learning outcomes through understanding of the biological system studied. Both subject-specific and key skill learning outcomes are assessed by the requirement to present a piece of data analysis and presentation in an acceptable scientific format.
The reflective blog on the peer marking exercise will provide the students with a unique perspective of how their own work compares to that of their peers. By recording these thoughts and feelings in a reflective blog and by providing feedback to their peers they will understand where their own work needs improvement.

Reading Lists