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Module MSE-4042:
Laboratory Molecular Research

Module Facts

Run by School of Medical Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr David Pryce

Overall aims and purpose

The aim of this module is to develop an understanding of key aspects of molecular genetics and provide substantial experience in the application of a number of key laboratory-based medical-molecular research methodologies.

The research-led teaching methods will involve students performing a series of linked experimental protocols to achieve an experimental aim; the production of an expression vector containing a human gene, for application in medical molecular research.

The module runs over a two-week period, with extensive lab time opportunity to allow students to develop extensive hands-on practical experience of laboratory-based medical-molecular research methods, and develop a 'realistic' understanding of the nature of molecular-based laboratory research.

This module is available to International exchange students of The College of Human Sciences

Course content

The practical work will be carried out in a state of the art category 2 teaching/research laboratory. Tuition and experimental techniques are supported and enhanced via extensive use of audio/visual technology/tutorials and delivered by research active personal with extensive molecular experience and leaders of research groups focusing on medical-molecular research.

Practical work will employ the following techniques and methodologies

  • Tissue culture growth and analysis of Human Cancer lines
  • Extraction and purification of RNA from Human Cancer cells
  • Fluorometric Quantitation, ‎Agarose gel and microfluidic chip analysis of RNA quality and quantity
  • Reverse transcription cDNA synthesis
  • Application of the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for RQ-PCR analysis of cDNA, RT-PCR molecular cloning, and recombinant plasmid detection (colony PCR).
  • Plasmid extraction from bacteria
  • Restriction enzyme digestion and ligation cloning of PCR fragments into plasmid vectors
  • Methods of growth and selection of recombinant plasmid transformed bacteria
  • Extensive utilisation of gel electrophoresis for DNA and RNA analysis and purification of specific DNA fragments
  • Introduction to and application of bioinformatic DNA/RNA sequence analysis software

For student revision, lectures, tutorials and practical demonstrations are recorded using the Panopto system

Assessment Criteria


Merit (B- to B+) (range 60-69%)

Primary criteria

Good students demonstrate strong knowledge & understanding of most but not all of the subject area. Limited evidence of background study. The answer is focussed with good structure. Arguments are presented coherently, mostly free of factual/computational errors. Some limited original interpretation. Well know links between topics are described. Problems are addressed by existing methods/approaches. Good presentation with accurate communication

Secondary Criteria

B+ Good

  • Exceeds expectations for most primary criteria
  • Command of subject but with gaps in knowledge
  • Some ideas/arguments original

B Mid-level

  • Meets all primary criteria
  • Strong factual knowledge and understanding
  • Ideas/arguments are well presented by few are original

B- Meets requirements of class

  • Meets most but not all primary criteria
  • Strong factual knowledge with minor weaknesses in understanding
  • Most but not all ideas/arguments are well presented and few are original


Pass (C- to C+) (range 50-59%)

Primary criteria

A threshold student demonstrates knowledge of key areas & principles, and understands the main elements of the subject area, although gaps and weaknesses in the argument are evident. No evidence of background study and wider reading. Answer focussed on question but also with some irrelevant material and weaknesses in structure & argument. Answers have several factual/computational errors. No original interpretation. No links between topics are described. Limited problem solving skills. Some weaknesses in presentation accuracy & delivery.

Secondary Criteria

C+ Good within the class

  • Exceeds expectations for some primary criteria
  • Strong factual knowledge with some weaknesses in understanding
  • Ideas/arguments are limited but are well presented

C Mid-level

  • Matches all primary criteria
  • Moderate factual knowledge with some weaknesses in understanding
  • Ideas/arguments are limited presented with weaknesses in logic/presentation

C- Meets requirements of class

  • Matches most but not all primary criteria
  • Moderate factual knowledge with several weaknesses in understanding
  • Ideas/arguments are limited presented with weaknesses in logic/presentation


Distinction (A- to A**) (range 70-100%)

Primary criteria

Excellent students demonstrate comprehensive knowledge & detailed understanding of the subject area. Clear evidence of extensive background study & original thinking. Highly focussed answers and well structured. Arguments are logically presented and defended with evidence and examples. No factual/computational errors. Original interpretation of the information with clear evidence of wider reading. New links between topics are developed and new approaches to a problem are presented. Excellent presentation skills with very accurate communication.

Secondary Criteria

A* Outstanding

  • Exceeds expectations for most primary criteria
  • Complete command of subject and other relevant areas
  • Ideas/arguments are highly original

A+ Excellent

  • Exceeds expectations for some primary criteria
  • Complete command of subject
  • Ideas/arguments are highly original

A Good

  • Meets all primary criteria
  • Command of subject but with minor gaps in knowledge areas
  • Ideas/arguments are mostly original

A- Meets requirements of Class

  • Meets most but not all primary criteria
  • Complete command of subject but with some gaps in knowledge
  • Ideas/arguments are mostly original

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and understanding of transcription, reverse transcription and RNA transcripts

  2. Demonstrate ability to fully process and critically analyse experimentally generated data

  3. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the theory and practical utilisation of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for molecular cloning and DNA analysis

  4. Demonstrate master level abilities to prepare and present scientific reports and presentations, to specifically designated formats

  5. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the theories and practical methods of nucleic acid isolation, purification, quantity and quality analysis

  6. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the theory and practical utilisation of restriction enzymes for molecular cloning

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Practical Report 60
Presentation 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy


One tutorial at the end of the laboratory work. The tutorial will discuss class experimental results, with an interactive group review of analysis and report write up specifics; including overview of Journal format guidelines

Private study

Self-directed study to develop in-depth knowledge and understanding.


Two consecutive weeks of laboratory-based experiment practical work

  • First week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9:30-5:00, Wednesday 9:30-1:00
  • Second week: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-5:30, Wednesday 9:30-1:00

Results and analysis will be continually updated throughout as experimental stages are completed. Panopto recording will be employed as and when necessary.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others


Resource implications for students

Access to a personal computer is beneficial, but not essential All resources needed to complete this module are provided. Computers can be accessed in multiple locations across the university. All teaching materials will be available on Blackboard. Completed assignments will be uploaded onto Turnitin through Blackboard. A limited number of the recommended textbooks can be found within the library.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules