BIOSCI 351 : Molecular Genetics


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The analysis of genetic material in prokaryotes, viruses, yeast, plants and humans is addressed. The means by which genetic information is transferred and the mechanisms underlying genome diversity will be examined, together with the study of eukaryote genomes at the level of chromosome structure and organisation. The molecular mechanisms underpinning selected inherited human disorders will be discussed as well as the role of model species in understanding normal and perturbed biological pathways.

Course Overview

The study of molecular genetics is the investigation of the inheritance of traits with the aim to better understand and potentially manipulate biological systems. The investigation of genetic diversity can give insight into the evolution of species right down to an exact understanding of gene function within a cell. This paper will give an excellent grounding in both theory and methodology. This will extend from the genetic mapping of traits through to gene and mutation discovery and finally the targeted altering of genomes to treat disease or introduce an advantageous DNA variation. The topic includes the genetic analysis of plants, wild and farmed animals and humans including human genetic disease. The course incorporates the most recent advances in genetics, genome analysis, and genome editing.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 201, 202

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe the statistical methods for linkage mapping and association mapping in order to determine the regions of the genome that contribute to differences between individuals in a focal trait (Capability 1, 2 and 6)
  2. Apply the framework of linkage mapping and association mapping to describe key examples of quantitative and discrete trait mapping in natural and domesticated populations and in human disease (Capability 1 and 2)
  3. Describe the types of natural genetic variation that occur in plants and how this has been harnessed during domestication of crops, using examples from plant fruit colour and flowering time (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Describe and apply methods of gene editing in plants guided by natural variation (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  5. Develop the ability to form a genetic hypothesis for a disease situation and work out what techniques are required to test the hypothesis including exome and whole genome sequencing (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  6. Describe methods for genetically engineering cells and animals including CRISPR-CAS9 technology for the investigation of disease processes or potential treatment of disease (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  7. Analyse the ethical considerations relating to the genetic engineering of somatic or germ line cells (Capability 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6)
  8. Describe how mammalian cell fate can be manipulated through altering gene expression through gene therapy or cell reprogramming (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  9. Integrate knowledge gained through the course to describe the experimental process from identifying a gene of interest through to developing an organoid model or cellular therapy for a human disease (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  10. Develop the practical skills associated with molecular genetics research in a group-based learning environment, to answer molecular genetics questions and communicate the answers in the form of a lab report (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 20% Individual Coursework
Test 30% Individual Test
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Final Exam
A pass must be obtained in BOTH the practical (i.e. assignments, 20%) and the theory (i.e. test and exam, total 80%) to pass any science paper with a practical component  (BSc regulation 5). Marks cannot be transferred from one section to another. 


There is no formal Tuākana programme for third year molecular biology, however students are encouraged to  contact the course coordinator who will be able to put them in touch with the second year molecular biology Tuākana coordinator

Key Topics

Determining the Genetic Basis of Phenotypes
A genetic toolkit for gene mapping
Genetic linkage mapping and genome wide association studies (GWAS)
Plant genome biology and natural variation 
Gene editing for crop domestication
Meiotic Recombination, Modes of inheritance, Polymorphisms and mutations
Gene and mutation identification 
Gene expression, chromosomal rearrangement and disease 
Assessing gene function in vitro using mammalian cells and animal models 
Gene editing – the power to disrupt or repair gene function
Ethics of biomedical research and gene-editing in healthcare
Viral Vectors and Gene Therapy for modelling disease and treating disease 
Cell reprogramming
Organiods and Cell Replacement Therapies

Learning Resources

Recommended text books:
INTRODUCTION TO GENETIC ANALYSIS, 10th edition, Griffiths AJF, Wessler SR, Carroll SB, and Drebley J.
HUMAN MOLECULAR GENETICS, 5th edition, Strachan T and Read AP

Special Requirements

Must complete practical laboratories

• Lab. coats and suitable footwear must be worn at all times. It is hazardous to wear open-toed sandals or jandals. 
• All personal accidents in the laboratory, however trivial, should be reported immediately to the Technician. A First-Aid Kit is located in the Laboratory. 
• One of the greatest dangers in the Laboratory is FIRE. It is IMPORTANT that you locate the fire extinguishers and safety showers, and familiarise yourself with their mode of operation. 
• Spillages of bacterial, phage or yeast cultures should be sprayed immediately with Hypochlorite and then wiped up. If you have any further concerns please check with a  Demonstrator or the Technician. 
• In the event of major spillage of a toxic or corrosive chemical on skin or clothing use a safety shower. Minor spillages eg. on hands, can be dealt with at the sink. If in doubt, use  showers quickly and worry about whether such action was justified later. WARN neighbours  of major spillages on the floor or bench, and check with a Demonstrator on any action  required. Wipe up minor spillages immediately with a paper towel or toilet paper. 
• A strict code of discipline will be maintained in the Laboratory. Serious accidents have resulted from innocent “horse play”. Particular care is required when handling dangerous or  corrosive liquids in the vicinity of your neighbours.  Work practices specified required for PC1 containment are to be followed throughout this laboratory session: 
• No eating or drinking in laboratory.
• No food or drink to be stored in laboratory
• Mouth pipetting is prohibited.
• Laboratory coats must be worn during the laboratory session.
• Laboratory coats are to be removed when leaving the laboratory area and hands
are to be washed before leaving the laboratory.
• Significant spills and accidents must be reported immediately to supervisor.
• Special care must be taken to reduce hand/mouth contact.
• Special care must be taken to ensure reading/writing materials are not

• Smoking, eating and drinking is expressly forbidden in the Laboratory.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 32 hours of lectures, 2 hours of tutorials,  15 hours of laboratories, 40 hours of reading and thinking about the lecture and laboratory content and 40 hours of work on test and exam preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 12/02/2020 08:12 p.m.