AP0705 - Current Topics in Biotechnology

What will I learn on this module?

Biotechnology is a fast moving and growing field of science, that impacts on our society and our lives. In this module, you will explore several areas of biotechnology.
You will learn about genetically modified plants and animals. What is the scientific background of genetic modification – how is it done, what are the implications, why do we need genetically modified organisms – do we actually need them? You will learn about the different methodologies of transferring DNA into plants and animals, about the selection mechanisms involved, and about the ectopic expression of the transgenes, and about the effects (wanted and unwanted) on both the host species and the natural or agricultural environment. You will study a number of case studies in depth, looking at all aspects of the problem and its supposed biotechnological solution.
Biotechnology is of growing importance in the medical world as well. How can we apply our biotechnological and molecular genetic knowledge in the fight against disease? You will learn about the role of cell therapies in creating “future cures”, with a focus on stem cell technologies and the production and handling of cell based products.
You will also explore the controversy around biotechnological methods and applications. You will learn about the ethical, legal and social issues surrounding genetic modification and stem cell research, and get insight into the regulatory bodies, commercial, governmental and social pressures that drive medical biotechnology product development.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures in which the various topics are introduced and discussed. Your engagement here is important; you learn best by actively engaging in discussions and problem solving exercises during the lectures. In some lectures, we will make use of relevant research papers which we will read and analyse together. In preparation for the poster assignment, you will take part in a workshop in which you will work together with your peers and learn how to gather and analyse information, and communicate that in the form of a scientific poster.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

All the lecture material, exercises, and extra support material will be made available on the module’s Blackboard site. A module guide with detailed information on the module itself, the time table and content of the individual sessions, and on the different assignments will also be present on Blackboard. There will be a link to the electronic reading list which enables you to access directed reading, videos, and other relevant support material.
In lectures, there will be problem solving exercises based on the topics under study. You will engage in a workshop focussed on producing a poster aimed to communicate science to the scientific community. There will be two individual tutorials to support you in your progress towards producing your own poster.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
?MLO 1 - Discuss the theoretical principles, key techniques and milestone achievements that have engendered the rise of Medical Biotechnology as solution to current health care challenges
?MLO 2 - Discuss and compare the different methodologies used in genetically transforming plants and animals
Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
?MLO 3 - Analyse primary research papers in the field of biotechnology, combine, compare and interpret the data and present these to a scientific audience
Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
?MLO 4 - Understand, discuss and evaluate the ethical, legal and social aspects of biotechnologal research and its impact on society

How will I be assessed?

?Poster (60%) – you will produce a poster on a chosen topic in the field of animal or plant biotechnology, aimed at presenting at the level of a scientific conference. You will get formative feedback during both the workshop, and the two tutorials. Feedback will be provided via the SAS. (MLO 2,3,4)
?Coursework Medical Biotechnology(40%) - you will produce an essay which identifies and critically evaluates the key scientific papers that would enable a stem cell cure to a particular disease to get from lab-bench to bed side. This will be submitted electronically and feedback provided through the module site. (40%)(MLO 1,3,4)





Module abstract

Biotechnology is a fast moving field, with a growing impact on society. In this module, we will explore some of the issues at the forefront in different areas of biotechnology. We will study the current and proposed biotechnological applications to problems in agriculture (genetically modified plants and animals) and in the biomedical world (stem cell research and cell products). Using current and relevant literature, we will study some of the most important (and sometime controversial) applications of biotechnology. In this module, you will gain not only knowledge and insight in the current “hot topics” of biotechnology, but you will also develop skills needed to analyse the complexity of the biotechnological solutions, and their ethical, legal and social impacts on stakeholders and society.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Full Time
1 other options available

Department Applied Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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