Issues in Biomolecular Science

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Autumn & Spring
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 20 March 2020
04 October 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BSC C700 Biochemistry,
BSC C701 Biochemistry (Including Placement Year),
BSC C703 Biochemistry (Including Year Abroad),
BSC CR00 Biochemistry (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C100 Biological Sciences,
BSC C101 Biological Sciences (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C102 Biological Sciences (Including Placement Year),
BSC CD00 Biological Sciences (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C400 Genetics,
BSC C402 Genetics (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C403 Genetics (Including Placement Year),
BSC CK00 Genetics (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C410 Genetics and Genomics,
BSC C411 Genetics and Genomics (Including Placement Year),
BSC C412 Genetics and Genomics (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C200 Human Biology,
BSC C201 Human Biology (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C202 Human Biology (Including Placement Year)

Module description

The theme of the module is the impact of modern life sciences upon society. The module will integrate, within a wider ethical framework, information covering topics that include:

* Human organ transplantation
* Dementia
* Sequencing of the human genome
* Antibiotic resistance
* Animal experimentation
* Ethics of stem cell research
* Patents and the commercialization of research

In the past 20 years Biology has had a major impact upon society. For example advances in DNA technology and cloning have resulted in transgenic crops that are already a part of the human diet, and form an increasing percentage of worldwide production. The practice of cloning animals has raised serious ethical concerns – designer dogs?, and some argue that this may open the door to a form of human eugenics. We now possess a complete map of the human genome. Ageing research may lead to lifespans of well over a century; with the link established between age and incidence of dementia is this a welcome development?

What will be the impact of this knowledge? What legislation will be necessary to control the way science could manipulate life? Who will make the decisions? Scientists or politicians? These are some of the questions addressed by this module.

The structure of this module is a departure from the traditional series of lectures to which you have been accustomed. Some sessions will depend upon your active participation and extensive background reading is required. You will survey in detail two separate topics then write an essay based on one and give an oral presentation based on the other.

Module aims

The aim of this module is to explore the impact of modern life sciences upon society

Module learning outcomes

Learning Outcomes:
To pass this module students will need to be able to:
1. Explain the impact of modern biology on society.
2. Research the legal, social and scientific background to topics of interest using a range of sources of information.
3. Discuss the wider social, economic and policy implications of selected, current biological issues
4. Demonstrate skills in written and oral presentation.

Module information

Available if the student attends for the whole academic year

Compulsory for:
Year 3 B.Sc. Cell and Molecular Biology

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures: 18 hours, plus participation in a 3 hour oral presentation session. Student managed learning: 129 hours. Overall total: 150 hours


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay     60% 
Coursework   Essay (Human Genome Sequencing)  21/01/2020   
Coursework   Essay (Antibiotic Resistance)  21/01/2020   
Coursework   Essay (Dementia)  21/01/2020   
Coursework   Essay (Stem Cells and Embryos)  21/01/2020   
Coursework   Essay (Patenting Human Gene Sequences)  21/01/2020   
Practical   Oral Presentation   03/12/2019  40% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Gareth Jones, email:
Dr Gareth Jones, Prof Nelson Fernandez, Dr Ralf Zwacka, Prof Leo Schalkwyk, Dr Raj Thaker, Dr Aurelie Villedieu
School Undergraduate Office, email: bsugoffice (Non essex users should add to create the full email address)



External examiner

Dr Clive Butler
The University of Exeter
Associate Professor of Microbial Biochemistry
Available via Moodle
Of 35 hours, 17 (48.6%) hours available to students:
18 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

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