Molecular Biology and Genetics


This module provides an introduction to both Medical and Forensic genetics and uses specific examples, to highlight the importance of DNA analyses, in both fields.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with an in-depth understanding of the fundamental concepts in molecular biology and genetics, together with relevant skills.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Explain the architecture, expression of human genes which are important in determining health, disease and forensically useful phenotypes.

2.  Discuss both clinical and forensic genetic variation in the context of human genomics.

3.  Deploy molecular genetic laboratory and bioinformatic analytical techniques.

Indicative Content

1 Genes and gene expression

Structure of human genes. Control of gene expression, with an emphasis on variations in genes that cause both medical conditions and common, forensically useful human traits. Splicing and differential gene expression. Common human variations and Mutations, including point mutations, indels, repeat expansions, and chromosomal aberrations.

2 Human Genomics and bioinformatic analysis

Sequence architecture of the human genome. Chromosome structure. DNA sequencing methods: Focusing on the comparison of the dideoxy irreversible terminator method of Sanger, with the “next generation” reversible terminator method of Balasubramanian and Klenerman. Analysis of sequence data. Genetic variation: the human gene pool, population genetics including Hardy-Weinberg equilibria.

3 Genetic engineering and other analytical techniques

Basic cloning including restriction digestion, ligation and transfection. PCR, Gel and capillary electrophoresis and accurate sizing of DNA fragments

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Material will be delivered in lectures and tutorials and reinforced with practical applications in laboratories.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 4
Supervised Practical Activity 18
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 40
Independent 114

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/20 , and may be subject to change for future years.