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Module BSM-4101:
Marine Biotechnology

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr John Mulley

Overall aims and purpose

Please note: This module is only available to students on College of Natural Sciences Degree Programmes

During the last 20 years Marine biotechnology has been, and continues to be, of prime importance to aquaculture worldwide. This truly global industry is one of the few that continues to grow at approximately 10% per year. From artisanal roots, the current focus of the industry is now firmly based in modern technologies, not only in novel drug discovery strategies - for potentially important lead pharmaceutical compounds, but also improving yield in aquaculture, by maximising stock growth and health, using molecular technologies. This module aims to introduce students to marine biotechnology by addressing topical issues in the area.

Course content

  1. The Blue Revolution: marine aquaculture and biotechnology, current status, future perspectives, problems and ethics.

  2. Genetically modified fish: background, technology, outcomes and impacts, ethics, environmental impacts.

  3. Drugs from the sea: marine pharmacology and potential for novel chemical leads for treatment of disease.

  4. Stress and disease diagnosis in aquaculture: detection of stress and disease, possibility of treatment via RNAi or genome editing

Assessment Criteria


Written answers to examination questions should demonstrate at least a basic knowledge and understanding of the essential facts and key concepts of all the subjects covered in this module


Thorough appreciation of the subject with no major errors or misunderstandings. Presentation of the material in a logical and ordered manner. The answer would usually be expected to show evidence of information from background reading, although an excellent synthesis of the lecture material could gain marks towards the lower end of this category. No demonstration of great originality


Complete familiarity with the subject, showing confidence in handling pertinent facts and arguments. Demonstration of assimilation and understanding of the material gleaned from a variety of sources including lectures, books, reviews and articles in the scientific literature. Ability to present material with a strong element of originality, individuality and insight and to integrate it into a broad biological context. Conveys a convincing impression of being an authority on the subject.

Learning outcomes

  1. Appreciate the overall concepts and ideas underpinning the "Blue Revolution"

  2. Understand the theory behind the production of marine pharmaceuticals

  3. Understand the theory and rationale behind the production of genetically modified animals, including ethical issues and possible environmental impacts.

  4. Appreciate the importance of disease diagnosis in aquaculture, and the applicability of RNAi and genome editing strategies to address diseases of fish, crustaceans and shellfish.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Practical Report 40
End Module Exam 60

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Lectures, journal clubs-style sessions, practical preparation and revision sessions

Practical classes and workshops

DNA barcoding practical

Private study

Students will also be directed to the relevant primary literature, book sections and internet resources, which they will be expected to read during the allotted private study time.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • 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.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Develop and identify research question(s) and/or hypotheses as the basis for investigation.
  • Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Engage in debate and/or discussion with specialists and non-specialists using appropriate language.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.
  • Undertake practical work to ensure competence in basic experimental skills.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation


Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: