Module code: BMS3092

Module Overview

This module aims to provide the student with an understanding of the importance of recombinant proteins in the 21st century and the varying strategies taken to produce these recombinant proteins. The module builds on level 4 (BMS1047) and 5 (BMS2036 ) modules that provide a broad background on molecular biology and gene regulation. The module focuses on the application of our knowledge of gene transfer and gene and protein expression to deliver recombinant proteins including but not exclusively effective pharmaceutical therapeutic proteins/molecules thus applying our knowledge to real world scientific problems.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

GERBER Andre (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 2

Independent Learning Hours: 102

Seminar Hours: 21

Tutorial Hours: 5

Guided Learning: 5

Captured Content: 15

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

BMS2036 Molecular Biology and Genetics: From Genes to Biological Function

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Molecular biology concepts revisited

  • How and why, we use recombinant proteins and their importance to society

  • Design and synthesis of expression cassettes (to include bioinformatic tools)

  • Bacterial recombinant protein production

  • Yeast recombinant production

  • Mammalian recombinant protein production

  • Transgenic (plant & animal) protein production

  • Gene therapy (including novel vaccine delivery)

  • Purification and characterization of the recombinant proteins produced

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination Online ONLINE 4 HOUR (OPEN BOOK) EXAM 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate a clear and deep understanding of the different aspects of applied molecular biology, and to demonstrate their independent learning skills during the course. The Problem Based Learning (PBL) assessment will give the students the opportunity to work in a team as well as demonstrate their own writing skills. This assessment develops good transferable skills.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

A PBL based professional report with group work but an individual report submission (2500 words) – Submission deadline week number 11. This is worth 50% of the module and addresses learning outcomes 2-8.

The students are encouraged to work as part of a team. Each group receives a unique ‘real life’ problem asking them to prepare a professional report detailing how they will solve the problem. Each problem presents them with a protein, it’s intended use and some constraints. They are asked to play the role of a researcher in a university or company and must devise a strategy to produce, purify and characterize the protein using the approaches they have learnt on the module. Each student then writes an independent report that must include a technical and lay summary. The assessment allows the students to apply the knowledge they have learnt as well as develop important transferable skills (team work, professional report writing, communicating science in non-technical language.

An end of semester online open book examination lasting 4 hours, the examination is worth 50% (2000 words) . In the exam students are asked to write 1 essay. One from a choice of 3 questions covering the entire course work and addresses learning outcomes 1-6.

The examination is designed to assess their knowledge and understanding of topics covered in the module and to assess their ability to critically apply that knowledge to problem solve ‘real-life’ problems.


Formative assessment and feedback is provided by in class quizzes, problem solving and Q&A sessions.


Feed forward support for the PBL assessment is provided by a briefing (week 1) with a worked example and discussion of the assessment brief which is also provided on SurreyLearn and includes an assessment Rubric.  In addition, a PBL workshop (week 6) offers students the opportunity to peer review a previous submission and critical evaluate/discuss the submission. Students then receive feedback on the approach they are taking to address the PBL both as a group and as individuals. A final session (week 11) prior to submission of the PBL course work is devoted to general and specific Q&A on their submission.

The biweekly small group tutorials offer the opportunity to receive assessment and feedback through in class discussions. In addition, weekly 15 minute bookable 1:1 consultation and feedback sessions are available to all students during the module.


Feedback on the PBL Assessment is provided in the form of a fully marked up copy of their submission as well as a summary of the overall assessment.


Feedback on the examination is provided as one-to-one feedback on request.

Module aims

  • To inform students of the range of strategies and tools for the production of recombinant proteins
  • To develop an understanding of the mechanisms whereby these strategies are implemented
  • To develop an understanding of the methods whereby these proteins are produced
  • To develop an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches
  • To develop the skill set to critically evaluate the appropriate strategy for successful protein expression
  • To identify and explore new and novel areas of research in the biotechnology industry.
  • To inform students of the importance and widespread use of recombinant proteins
  • To develop transferable skills in group working, report writing, communication in lay language as well as basic DNA/protein sequence manipulation and using online resources

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
002 Describe the approaches taken to produce recombinant proteins KCPT
003 Explain the requirements for successful expression of recombinant proteins in the different expression systems KCPT
004 Critically evaluate the various expression systems KCPT
005 Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of gene therapy versus traditional pharmaceutical drug delivery KCPT
006 Describe the approach of synthetic biology to developing novel strains for the production of recombinant proteins KCPT
001 Discuss the importance of recombinant proteins in the 21st century K
007 Develop professional report writing skills 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 enable students to be independent learners and to apply their theoretical knowledge of molecular biology which they have learnt at levels 4 and 5 to tackling the problems of expressing complex biologics. They will learn the importance of these proteins in the 21st century from both a societal and an economic prospective. They will appreciate how the economic importance underpins a vibrant job market and therefore the transferrable skills they learn on the module can enhance their employability. External speakers will provide them with insight into different career structures in the field in academic, SME and large pharma.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • On-demand content (pre-recorded ‘lecture’ content, videos, extended reading)

  • Seminars in which the weeks content is discussed in greater depth

  • Small group tutorials

  • Bookable 1:1 student feedback and consultation sessions

  • Workshop/tutorial supporting their Problem based Learning assignment (including Peer review of previous submission and feedback on Group progress)

  • Discussion forum including posts on topical news items on recombinant proteins

  • Discussion forum/Online whiteboard (Padlet) to allow Q&A on the module content

  • Seminars from two external speakers in the field

Contact time will be a total of approximately 30 hours.

The students have access to pre-recorded lecture content (and PDF slides) summarizing the core learning outcomes and subject content of the week, in advance of the weekly face-to face sessions. This material also includes links to external content and extended reading material. This captured content helps to develop basic knowledge and understanding of concepts in recombinant protein expression and purification, which students then go onto review in the live sessions. Students are expected to engage with weekly captured content and prepare for live sessions to facilitate the ‘flipped learning’ experience. 

The face-to-face sessions comprise of a weekly seminar and a bi-weekly small group tutorial (25% of the class/group) and are reserved for active student learning to enhance understanding by discussing real life datasets and recent developments in enhancing the expression system being discussed that week. Tutorials and face-to-face sessions include interactive sessions and quizzes to provide formative feedback to students enabling them to review their knowledge on a topic and apply that knowledge to problem based scenarios. While the bookable 1:1 Feedback and Consultation slots offer students the opportunity to obtain more personal support. The students are encouraged to form and work as a group on their summative PBL assessment. Each group receives a unique assessment question in week 1 or 2 and they are encouraged to work as a team to devise a strategy that addresses the problem. This encourages peer learning, review and application of the knowledge acquired in the module as well as development of transferrable skills (team working and report writing).

The posting of topical news stories about recombinant proteins and the presentations of the external speakers further enhances the students perception of the topic, it’s global reach and employment opportunities in the field.

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: BMS3092

Other information

The School of Biosciences and Medicine is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

Resourcefulness & resilience

Problem solving "introductory lecture" sets up the module. Students are encouraged to work as a group to solve an individual problem, providing support and peer learning opportunities. At the mid-way point a PBL workshop that involves peer review of a previous submission and group discussions of the students’ suggested solutions supports the learning experience. On demand material is supported by a weekly seminar exploring real life examples of the application of that week’s material. This is supported by further small group (25% of the class) tutorials every other week. Bookable 1:1 sessions are available every week to further support individual learning.

Global & cultural capabilities

The application of GM technology is discussed in the context of delivering products/solutions with global reach. For example, the Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine but also GM crops that have the potential to deliver nutritional improvements but at what cost? The challenges of technical transfer from Western world laboratory situations to real world global solutions are discussed where appropriate.


Analysis of real-life scenarios: Implementation of technologies in delivering products in various industries such as food production & processing, pharmaceuticals, industrial enzymes and consumer products; Awareness of resources needed for experiments; Discussion of the pros and cons of GM products and in particular GM animals and plants.

Digital capabilities

As with all modules, students are expected to engage with online material and resources via SurreyLearn, and other digital platforms. Following a flipped classroom approach, students are advised to view digital learning material in advance of tutorials. Students are encouraged to communicate using online whiteboard (Padlet) and Discussion Forums. The introduction to online genetic platforms such as NCBI, Benchling and to software tools for primer design and DNA sequence manipulation equips the student to address the PBL assignment. The use of video communication tools such as Zoom/Teams to facilitate discussion for online/hybrid communication and the creation of digital reports for submission to SurreyLearn as a further means for discussion equips the student for life after graduation.


In class problems enable application of content, but also drives research beyond this to derive answers to address the problem-based learning assessment. The PBL encourages Group work to address the question and peer learning. The PBL is a professional report addressing real life questions and incorporates both technical and lay summaries developing communication skills. Presentations from 2 external speakers from an SME and large Pharma deliver relevance of the module and perspectives on individuals career paths.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Biochemistry MSci (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biochemistry BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biomedical Science BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biomedical Science MSci (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Microbiology BSc (Hons) 1 Optional 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.