Module code: BMS1047

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to give a broad introduction to the essential concepts of molecular biology and genetics that are critical to any undergraduate programme in biosciences.


We will cover the central dogma of biology: how information is passed from DNA to RNA to protein, and how it is inherited throughout generations. We will examine how genomes are organized and the structure of a gene, initially focusing on prokaryotes. We will discuss the details of DNA replication, transcription and translation and examine some of the key concepts in gene regulation. Students will also be introduced to laboratory and bioinformatic techniques essential for the study of molecular biology. They will also hone their skills in scientific writing through the production of a laboratory report and short essay.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

STEWART Graham (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 74

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 9

Laboratory Hours: 9

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 25

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Organisation of genomes and genes

  • Central dogma of molecular of biology: transcription, translation, DNA replication

  • Genetic inheritance

  • Gene regulation

  • Experimental techniques for studying molecular biology

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Coursework - Practical Report 25
Coursework Coursework - Short essay 15
Examination Online Online (Open Book) MCQ Exam Within 4-Hr Window (90 Minutes) 60

Alternative Assessment

Alternative assessment for 'Coursework - Practical Report' is a 'Practical Report written up with example data sets provided'

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate a sound knowledge of the basic principles and practice of molecular biology and genetics. The exam assesses the first four learning outcomes and the practical write-up assesses the final three.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • One practical report submitted for assessment approximately 2 weeks after completion of the experiments.

  • One short essay

  •  A 90 minute online MCQ exam comprising 100 questions (5 choices, one correct answer) covering material across the entire module. The exam can be taken at your choice within a 4-hour time slot.


Formative assessment and feedback


Electronic voting systems may be used in some of the lectures and revision tutorials to provide formative assessment, including both regular and frequent instant feedback to students on their individual progress. A class feedback session is given following each practical, and each student receives an individual feedback sheet along with his/her practical report.

Module aims

  • Instill a basic understanding of fundamental concepts in molecular biology, which will lay the foundation for further study
  • Introduce students to experimental techniques needed for the study of molecular biology
  • Give students the opportunity to improve their skills in scientific writing

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Describe the key elements of the central dogma of molecular biology KT
002 Describe basic concept of genetic heredity KT
003 Describe genomes and plasmid/chromosome structures KT
004 Describe how DNA is replicated KT
005 Describe how RNA is produced, processed and proteins synthesized KT
006 Describe basic control of gene expression KT
007 Describe basic techniques in molecular biology and their applications KCT
008 Plan and undertake quantitative experiments investigating gene transfer in bacteria KCPT
009 Plan and undertake qualitative experiments to amplify DNA from a gene and perform basic bioinformatic analysis KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

  The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:


  1. Provide the students with the basic molecular biology and genetics knowledge they will require to understand the rest of their bioscience courses and to build an essential foundation for the Level 5 course.

  2. Enable the students to understand that molecular biology and genetics is relevant to many different bioscience areas. Reference to case studies and practical to further support acquired knowledge and to promote transferrable skills of knowledge to new areas.


The learning and teaching methods include:


There are typically two or three lectures given per week. Questions on content of lectures can be addressed in the Discussion forum and/or in person during the tutorials, providing a tool for students to receive instant feedback on their own progress. Peer-to-peer interaction in the tutorial sessions consolidates the learning of the concepts and facts. The revision tutorials are planned through the course and at the end.


The students gain experience of working in small groups (pairs or triplets) in the practical sessions. Students are required to write a practical report. This provides good practice in presenting concise, structured scientific writing and requires the students to conduct mathematical and bioinformatic analysis of their own data. They will also write a short essay, giving them the opportunity to further improve their scientific writing skills.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: BMS1047

Other information

Resourcefulness & resilience: Community-based problem solving and learning (in relation to molecular biology). Class dialogue (in small groups). Alternate platforms for learning, discussion and feedback (from face-to-face to digital platforms via SurreyLearn). Implementation of independent learning tools with reference to additional materials supporting lectures/practicals.


Global & cultural capabilities: Introduction of different perspectives  - early observations vs. current knowledge. Naming of leading scientist with diverse cultural backgrounds. Scientific contributions across different cultures and establishment of a commonly accepted scientific approach (e.g. peer-review).


Sustainability: Analysis of real-life scenarios. Implementation of historical perspectives and political aspects towards science. Discussion of evolution and impact in nature/environment. Awareness of resources needed for experiments (practicals).


Digital capabilities: Use discipline specific tools as part of assessment. Communication & Learning via digital tools and SurreyLearn. Bioinformatics & Database training (use digital tools to gather and access evidence).


Employability: Acquisition of fundamental knowledge in molecular biology and genetics; Understanding key terminology used in the Life Science sector. Enabling scientific conversation with potential employers. Practical application of theoretical knowledge (practical with problem-based learning). Examples from practice and industry added to lectures (application of knowledge in the clinics and biopharmaceutical industry).

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Biochemistry MSci (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biochemistry BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biomedical Science BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biomedical Science MSci (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Microbiology BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Veterinary Biosciences BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.