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Module details


Year: 2014/15
Department: Biological Sciences (School of)
Essex credit: 30
ECTS credit: 15
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No

Supervisor: Prof Phil Mullineaux,  
Teaching Staff: Prof Phil Mullineaux, Prof Glyn Stanway, Dr Metodi Metodiev  
Contact details: School Graduate Office, email: bsgradtaught (Non essex users should add @essex.ac.uk to create a full email address) 

Module is taught during the following terms

Module Description

The development of techniques to manipulate and analyse nucleic acids has revolutionised the study of biology and provided the key driver for the massive expansion in biotechnology. Subsequent to this has been the emergence of the fields of genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics that are now the focus of the most exciting new advances in biotechnology. This module aims to introduce the key developments in gene technology whilst relating them to the developments in data analysis and bioinformatics to provide an insight into how such molecular tools work and can be applied (often in combination).

The module consists of two components. The DNA Technologies component comprises a series of lectures, practicals and computer classes (see separate schedules) examining the isolation of DNA and RNA, gene cloning, library creation, and screening. Sequencing of DNA, fingerprinting methodologies and hybridisation are also studied. Rapidly evolving fields such as reporter technology, bioinformatics and chip technology/nanotechnology are also discussed.

The Protein Technologies component describes the basic features and properties of proteins and their relation to protein function. It provides hands on experience in the production, isolation, purification and characterisation of proteins with biotechnological potential. The relationship of protein structure to function is examined in light of the mechanisms of enzyme catalysis, signal transduction and other important biological processes. The techniques used in protein purification are described and the laboratory classes provide experience in protein purification and analysis. The emerging new field of proteomics and its applications are discussed.

Learning Outcomes

To pass this module a student will need to be able to:

Gene Technologies

1. to give an understanding of how manipulation of nucleic acids has been central to the developments made in biotechnology and biology as a whole;

2. to (re-) introduce the major tools used in gene technology and to provide an understanding of how such tools are used;

3. to illustrate how molecular techniques can be used in combination to explore biological questions;

4. by using a practical illustrative example, to investigate the effective use of molecular techniques in research;

5. to give an understanding of the importance of bioinformatics in gene technology and in biotechnology as a whole;

6. to further develop a key range of skills including information acquisition from Web-based and library sources, self-learning, writing and presentation of scientific reports.

Protein Technologies

1. to explain the factors that determine protein structure and function;

2. to discuss protein synthesis & targeting in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells;

3. to describe the range of techniques used in protein analysis;

4. to discuss the methods of production of recombinant proteins;

5. to examine the emerging new field of proteomics and its applications;

6. to explore some of the computational methods for protein analysis.

Learning & Teaching Methods

Introductory Laboratory Skills Practical 3 hr
Mock Examination 3 hr

Please note that the mock examination is a practice session for the two Summer examinations and will take place under exam conditions. You must bring to the mock exam everything needed for a normal written examination (pens, calculator, etc).

Gene Technologies
Lectures: 12 x 1 hr including a 3 hr CAL session
Practicals: 6 sessions totalling 33 hr
Student managed learning: 110 hr
Total: 158 h

Protein Technologies
Lectures (including DAI tutorials): 12 x 1hr
Practicals: 4 sessions totalling 20 hr
Student managed learning: 110 hr
Total: 142 hrs
Total for module: 306 hrs


60 per cent Coursework Mark, 40 per cent Exam Mark

Two items of practical work written up in SPF format weighted 30% each.

Other details:
Two 3 hour exams during the Christmas vacation

Exam Duration and Period

3:00 hour exam during Christmas vacation.


  • Glick, B.R.Pasternak, J.J and Paten CL. (2010) Molecular Biotechnology: Principles and Applications of Recombinant DNA, 4th Edition. Publication Date: December 31, 2009 | ISBN-10: 1555814980 | ISBN-13: 978-1555814984 |(Essential Biotechnology Masters Degree)
  • Brown, T.A. (2006) Genomes 3, Taylor Francis Publishers.
  • Strachan, T. & Read, A.P. (2010) 'Human Molecular Genetics'. ISBN-10: 0815341490
  • Primrose, S.B. and Twyman, R.M. (2009) Principles of Gene Manipulation and Genomes, 8th edition, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. ISBN10: 140515666X ISBN13: 9781405156660 (essential reading)
  • Introduction to Biotechnology by William Thieman (2012) Pearson; ISBN-10: 032181892X.
  • Basic Biotechnology by Colin Ratledge and Bjorn Kristianson, 3rd Edn (2006) Cambridge University Press; ISBN 9780521549585.
  • Plant biotechnology: the genetic manipulation of plants by Nigel Slater, W. Scott, Mark R. Fowler. (2008), Oxford: Oxford University Press, SB 106.B56S6.

Further information

Should you have any queries about the Module Directory pages, please contact the Course Record Team, Systems Administration Office, Academic Section; email: crt (non Essex users should add @essex.ac.uk)