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Unit information: Recombinant DNA Technology in 2016/17

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Unit name Recombinant DNA Technology
Unit code MOLG22100
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Szczelkun
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


This unit examines the methodology and applications of recombinant DNA technology. Topics covered include: genome organisation; procedures for cloning and analysing genes; methods for analysing gene expression; the creation and use of transgenic microorganisms, plants and animals; gene therapy; protein engineering; bioinformatics; microarray technology; the safety and legal implications of genetic engineering. 35 lectures are supplemented with six practical sessions and three tutorials. Assessment is by sessional examination (85%), assessed exercises associated with the tutorials (10%) and laboratory reports (5%). Some prior knowledge of molecular biology (eg equivalent to Biochemistry 1G) is recommended.

The main aim of this Unit is to provide students with a good understanding of the techniques used to clone, analyse and modify genetic material in microorganisms, plants and animals. Further aims are to provide them with practical experience in some of these techniques, and to improve their ability to critically assess experimental data.

Intended learning outcomes

Learning outcomes: knowledge and understanding

Upon completion of this course students should understand and be able to explain:

  1. the organisation of prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes;
  2. the methods commonly employed for manipulation and analysis of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA);
  3. the methods commonly employed for the creation of genetically-modified cell lines and organisms (microbes, plants and animals);
  4. the applications of bioinformatics and functional genomics;

Learning outcomes: skills

Upon completion of this course students should have acquired the skills necessary to:

  1. undertake simple gene-cloning experiments using modern laboratory apparatus;
  2. interpret experimental data obtained using the techniques described in the course;
  3. present experimental work in a clear and concise written report.

Teaching details

Lectures, tutorials and practicals

Assessment Details

Continual assessment:

20% of the total marks for the unit are awarded on the basis of assessment exercises undertaken during the course. Thus 5% of the final assessment mark is awarded for a data-handling exercise, 5% is awarded for the combined mark for two assessed essays, and 10% is awarded for the combined mark for practical write-ups.

Sessional exam:

80% of the total marks for the unit are awarded for performance in the unit examination in January, which will consist of one 2.5-hour paper. The paper is split into two sections: the first section (40% of marks) will comprise 50 multiple choice questions (MCQs); the second section (60% of marks) will contain six essay questions of which candidates will be asked to answer two, each carrying equal marks.

Reading and References

  • "Gene Cloning. Principles and Applications" (2006) by J. Lodge et al. (Taylor & Francis)
  • "Gene Cloning & DNA analysis" 6th ed (2010) by T. Brown (Blackwell) or
  • "Instant Notes in Molecular Biology" 3rd ed (2005) by P. Turner et al. (Taylor & Francis) or
  • "Analysis of Genes and Genomes" (2003) by R. Reece (Wiley)