BIOSCI 351 : Molecular Genetics


2023 Semester One (1233) (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 (by studying the impacts of genetic diversity on phenotype) right down to an exact understanding of gene function within a cell. This paper will give an excellent grounding in both theory and methodology. Topics will range from genetic mapping of traits through to gene and mutation discovery, and finally the targeted alteration of genomes to treat disease or introduce an advantageous DNA variation. These topics will be applied in the context of  plants, wild, domestic and farmed animals, and humans (including human conditions). The course incorporates the most recent advances in genetics, genome analysis, and genome editing.

BIOSCI 351 is a requirement for the School of Biological Sciences genetics pathway, and part of the Biomedical Science genetics pathway. 

This course could lead to a career in statistical genetics (e.g. farm animals, endangered species such as the Hihi, plant breeding), human genetic diagnostics,  biotechnology (e.g. production of recombinant therapeutics or plant selection / engineering), postgraduate studies towards an academic research career or key roles in the biological industries. 

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. 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)
  9. 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
In-course quiz/exercise 20% Individual Coursework
Mid-semester test 25% Individual Test
Final Exam 30% Individual Examination
Laboratories 25% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
In-course quiz/exercise
Mid-semester test
Final Exam

Students must pass the practical component (5 x laboratories) AND the theory component (in-course quizzes/exercises, mid-semester test, final exam) to pass the course overall.


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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

Special Requirements

Students are required to supply and wear a lab coat and safety glasses while in the teaching lab.

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.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including labs/tutorials to receive credit for components of the course.

We strongly recommend lecture attendance, but they will also be available as recordings. Other learning activities including tutorials will be available as recordings.

The course will not include live online events.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning 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.

There is no recommended text book for this course. You are expected to complete the readings provided for each lecture, which are linked from each lecturer’s page on Canvas and/or from the ‘Reading list’ on Canvas.

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.

Staff welcome feedback on the course throughout the semester, including the SET evaluations. Please contact your course coordinator or student representative at any time with your feedback.

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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.

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

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.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2022 09:27 a.m.