BIOMO512-20B (HAM)

Molecular Techniques for Environmental Science

15 Points

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Division of Health Engineering Computing & Science
School of Science
Biomedical, Molecular and Cellular Biology


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Paper Description

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This paper provides a practical and theoretical overview of molecular techniques (particularly those based on DNA and RNA) used in various aspects of ecology, evolution, and environmental science. It targets postgraduate students of diverse knowledge base and places emphasis on the intended use, strength, and weakness of various techniques. The techniques will be discussed in the context of real-life research and diagnostic applications, particularly focusing on ecology, systematics, and monitoring.
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Paper Structure

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This paper is taught through lectures, interactive seminars, practical laboratory sessions, and student-led roundtable discussions. Attendance at all lectures and seminars is required. This paper is 100% internally assessed.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Describe the theoretical underpinning and experimental details of a broad range of modern molecular technologies;
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  • Understand the advantages and limitations of variour molecular techniques and how they affect the techniques' suitability for various applications;
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  • Understand the use of molecular genetic tools to address questions broadly in the fields of ecology, evolution, and systematics;
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  • Understand the basics of cutting-edge DNA-based methods, such as quantitative PCR (qPCR), DNA sequencing, and genomics;
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  • Evaluate studies utilising molecular techniques and offer articulated and thoughtful critique of the methodology and findings;
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  • Communicate scientific concepts and findings in an efficient and accurate manner;
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  • Gain practical experience in the laboratory relevant to future career opportunities.
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Assessment consists of the following components:

  • [15%] an essay (details TBC)
  • [20%] one 5-minute Pecha Kucha-style presentation
  • [15%] a technical summary of the laboratory component
  • [20%] a "mock" study design (three pages + citations) that incorporates one or more of the techniques discussed in this paper
  • [30%] an in-class test at the end of the semester (before Exams)

Assessment items should be formatted in 12-­point Helvetica or Arial and 1.15X line spacing. Please submit the assessment items through Moodle in an editable format (i.e., not PDF) so that feedback on the work can be provided.

  • Essay: two A4 pages + one A4 page for citations
  • Technical Summary: See Moodle for guidelines
  • "Mock" Study Design: three A4 pages + two A4 pages for citations

For the presentation, each student will select a unique article from a peer-reviewed publication that incorporates a technique covered in this paper (i.e., no two students should present the same study). Students must email a PDF for the article of their choice to Charlie one week before their presentation. The presentation will be in the Pecha Kucha style, with five slides that automatically advance after one minute. The presentation will be assessed based on (but not limited to) the following criteria:

  • The slides should contain enough information for the audience to understand the key ideas
  • Aim for a good balance of text and images
  • The information must be "presented" (i.e., do not read direct quotes from the paper)
  • The presentation should broadly follow this format:
    1. Introduction
    2. Hypothesis/Question
    3. Methodology
    4. Results
    5. Discussion/Conclusion
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Essay
21 Aug 2020
No set time
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Presentation - Pecha Kucha style
  • Presentation: In Class
3. Technical Summary of Laboratory Component
4 Sep 2020
No set time
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Study Design
23 Oct 2020
No set time
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Test
  • In Class: In Lecture
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Required reading will be supplied in the forms of PDFs or web links through Moodle.

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Online Support

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This paper has a Moodle page ( where you will be able to access pdfs of lecture notes and powerpoints, lecture recordings, and reading material. There are also discussion forums where you can both ask and answer questions.

PLEASE NOTE: Moodle will be used for class notices etc and it is your responsibility to check the site regularly. Instructions provided on Moodle and in lectures are considered to be given to the class as a whole.

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Seminars: 24 hours

Laboratory Sessions: 12 hours

Assignments (non-contact): 60 hours

Presentation Preparation (non-contact): 12 hours

Test Preparation (non-contact): 24 hours

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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restriction: BIOL565

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This paper requires students to attend some in-person laboratory or fieldwork. It can not be taken solely online. Do you still want to choose this paper?




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