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Molecular Biology


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Dr Tracey Barrett
  • Assessment: lab reports, blog compilation, short-answer final test (100%); 80% attendance at lab-based sessions (0%)

Module description

In this module you will be provided with a robust 'toolkit' of laboratory techniques and approaches within the realm of recombinant DNA technology, including PCR, DNA assembly/cloning and DNA sequencing. All of this will build on the relevant knowledge and practical skills acquired at Level 4 and in the laboratory sequence within the Level 5 module, Evolution and Genetics.

The knowledge and experience you will gain in this module will serve as essential preparation work at Level 6, especially in the final-year laboratory research projects.

Indicative syllabus

  • PCR: principles; key applications; primer design
  • DNA polymerases: choices for PCR and other applications
  • DNA restriction: applications in mapping and cloning
  • Plasmids and other cloning vectors
  • DNA intermolecular ligation and transformation into competent cells
  • Sanger fluorescent DNA sequencing analysis

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • explain the general principles of gene cloning and identify key considerations in regard of choice of cloning vector
  • explain in general how the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) works and give examples of how PCR may be applied in DNA cloning and sequencing workflows
  • design appropriate primers and explain how you would know if the PCR had been successful when given a target DNA sequence for amplification by the polymerase chain reaction
  • give details of the Gibson assembly process for DNA fragment assembly, describe how the fragments obtained may be introduced into a plasmid and explain how you would determine if the method had been successful
  • describe techniques for the introduction of recombinant DNA into cells, and explain methods for the downstream isolation of this DNA and for determination of the quality of the product
  • outline the workflow leading to Sanger sequencing, explain how the technique works and interpret the readout generated by this process.