Genetics (Including Foundation Year)

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Course overview
(BSc) Bachelor of Science
Genetics (Including Foundation Year)
University of Essex
University of Essex
Essex Pathways
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree

Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

UK and EU applicants should have, or expect to have:

72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent, including a science subject. Science subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Geography, Sports Science and Applied Science.

Examples of the above tariff may include:

  • A-levels: DDD
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP (in a science subject)

All applicants must also hold GCSE Maths and Science at grade C/4 or above.

Essex Pathways Department accepts a wide range of qualifications from applicants. If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.

Essex Pathways Department is unable to accept applications from international students. Foundation pathways for international students are available at the University of Essex International College and are delivered and awarded by Kaplan, in partnership with the University of Essex. Successful completion will enable you to progress to the relevant degree course at the University of Essex.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.

Course qualifiers


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes


External examiners

Dr Clive Butler

Associate Professor of Microbial Biochemistry

The University of Exeter

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 0 - 2019/20

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 IA102-3-PS Introduction to Biology Core 30
02 IA123-3-PS Chemistry for Biology Core 30
03 IA124-3-PS Mathematics and Statistics Core 30
04 IA199-3-PS Research and Academic Development Skills and English Language Core 30

Year 1 - 2020/21

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 BS141-4-AP Quantitative methods for Life Sciences Core 15
02 BS101-4-AU Molecular Cell Biology Core 15
03 BS104-4-SP Microbiology Core 15
04 BS131-4-SP Biochemistry of Macromolecules Core 15
05 BS102-4-AU Genetics and Evolution Core 15
06 BS113-4-AU or BS133-4-SP Core with Options 15
07 BS132-4-AP General and Organic Chemistry Core 15
08 BS143-4-AP Transferable Skills in Life Sciences Core 15

Year 2 - 2021/22

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 BS211-5-FY Enterprise and Employability for the Biosciences Compulsory 15
02 BS221-5-AU Molecular Biology: Genes, Proteins and Disease Compulsory 15
03 BS225-5-SP Cell Biology Compulsory 15
04 BS222-5-AU Genome Science Compulsory 15
05 BS231-5-SP Computational Data Analysis: R for Life Sciences Compulsory 15
06 Option(s) from list Optional 30
07 Option from list Optional 15

Year 3 - 2022/23

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 BS831-6-FY Research Project in Biomolecular Science Compulsory 45
02 BS304-6-AP Issues in Biomolecular Science Compulsory 15
03 BS320-6-SP Human Molecular Genetics Compulsory 15
04 Option from list Optional 15
05 Option(s) from list Optional 30

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

The course aims to develop in our students:

An understanding of living systems, and the varied levels of complexity from molecules to populations.

An understanding of biological methods and approaches with an emphasis on genetics and an understanding of the main body of biological knowledge.

An ability to analyse current biological and genetical questions and to suggest solutions.

A general scientific education including training in handling and interpretation of quantitative information and the ability to plan and carry out desk or laboratory based research under supervision.

The key skills of communication, numeracy, ITC use, problem solving, working with others, self-evaluation and self-improvement, and autonomous learning using genetics as a context and focus.

The key laboratory, field and workplace skills required for careers in genetics or biology, or other careers that require an integrated understanding of biological processes.

A foundation of knowledge, understanding and skills required for further study and research.

An awareness of the need for compliance with health, safety and ethical policies in biological work.

An appreciation of the need for, and importance of, lifelong learning and personal development planning.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1 Basic physics, maths and chemistry that are relevant to biological sciences
A2 The different levels of organisation and complexity, from molecules, through cells, tissues, organs, organisms to populations
A3 The structural and functional organisation of cells including key cellular, genetic and developmental processes and their regulation
A4 The organisation of cells into multicellular organisms including cell and organism metabolism and physiology
A5 Key biological processes at the molecular level with emphasis on genetics
A6 Appropriate practical scientific methods and approaches: observation, experimentation, modelling; and techniques used in their analysis
A7 Key genetics issues facing society (e.g. genetic profiling, genetic fingerprinting, GMOs)
Learning Methods: Lectures are the principal method of delivery of A1 to A7.

Lectures direct students to textbooks and on-line material (Years 1 to 3), and reviews and research papers (Year 2 and particularly Year 3).

Laboratory and field practicals in Years 1 and 2 complement lectures and develop A1 to A6.

Coursework associated with lecture modules in Years 2 and 3 develops A1 to A7.

The research project in Year 3 teaches and develops A6 and also a range of A1-A5 and A7 (depending on project topic).

Team work for A7 is developed in the Issues module (Year 3).

The Skills module and Summer laboratory course in Year 2 teaches and develops A1 to A6.

Seminars with small groups are used in A1 (mathematics and chemistry, Year 1).
Assessment Methods: A1 to A7 are assessed by:

Multiple Choice Questions (Year 1)

Timed and un-timed essays (Years 2 and 3)

Oral and written practical reports (Years 1 and 2)
Summer laboratory course reports (Year 2)
Exercises in data analysis and interpretation (DAI), (Years 2 and 3)

Unseen written exams: short answer, essay (Years 1 and 2) and questions involving DAI (Years 2 and 3)

The individual Year 3 research project, covering a range of A2 to A7 (depending on project topic) tests understanding in depth and is assessed by an individual written report and an oral presentation.

Team oral and individual written presentations in the Year 3 Issues course are used to assess A7.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 Retrieve, select and collate appropriate biological information
B2 Evaluate primary and secondary evidence and arguments
B3 Analyse and interpret quantitative information in graphs, figures, tables and equations and use appropriate statistical tests
B4 Integrate and link information across course components, including material met in different years, from different disciplines and covering different scales of organisation.
B5 Plan and conduct a research task (including risk assessment and ethical approval where appropriate)
B6 Present data correctly, choose and apply an appropriate basic statistical test and interpret the output
Learning Methods: Setting of directed learning topics (Years 1 and 2) develops skills in B1, B2 and B4.

B1 and B2 are partly covered by training in exam essay writing in the Year 1 tutorials and further developed by coursework essays (Years 2 and 3)

B2 and B3 are taught by specific inclusion of data analysis in lectures and classes in Years 2 and 3 and through progressive development of DAI coursework in Years 2 and 3.

B1 to B3 and in some cases B4, are developed through analyses and presentation of results of practical work in Years 1 to 3.

B4 is achieved by progressive subject development through the 3 years; the summer laboratory course and the Issues course in Year 3.

B5 is taught via team project work in the summer laboratory course in Year 2 and the Year 3 individual research project and Research Project module.

B6 is taught in Year 1 LSKS module and developed throughout the degree via practical coursework (Years 1 and 2) and in the final year research project.
Assessment Methods: B1, B2 and B4 are assessed by coursework and exam essays (Years 1 to 3).

B2 and B3 are assessed by coursework and compulsory exam DAI questions (Years 2 and 3), practical reports (Years 1 and 2), summer laboratory course reports (Year 2) and the research project report (Year 3).

B4 is assessed by integrative coursework in the Year 3 Issues module.

B1 to B5 are also assessed in the Year 3 individual research project.

B6 is assessed in Years 1 & 2 practicals and Year 1 LSKS module, and in the Year 3 research project.

C: Practical skills

C1 Able to carry out basic experiments and sampling programmes in the laboratory and the field, safely and effectively following a written schedule
C2 Use appropriate laboratory or field equipment safely and efficiency
C3 Able to explain the principles and limitations of a range of more advanced genetics based, practical techniques
C4 Use appropriate techniques to study diversity at different levels (e.g. identification of species using hierarchical keys and sequence databases)
C5 Able to use appropriate software packages for simulations, modelling, statistical analysis, etc.
Learning Methods: Skills C1 to C3 are taught in supervised practicals in Years 1 and 2, and a week long summer laboratory course in Year 2.

Lectures in Years 1 to 3 teach aspects of C1 and C3 Independent project work in research laboratories or in the field in Year 3 also teaches and develops C1 to C3.

As part of C1 to C3, safety is addressed through practical documentation (Years 1 and 2) and developed by students preparing risk assessments for Year 3 research projects.

C5 is addressed through IT and statistics training in Year 1 Scientific and Transferable Skills for Biosciences, and the use of more specialised software is taught or developed in practicals, the summer laboratory course in Year 2, and the project in Year 3.
Assessment Methods: C1 is assessed through Year 1 and Year 2 practicals, Year 2 summer laboratory course and the final year research project.

C2 is assessed in some Year 1 and 2 practicals.

C3 is assessed in many practicals in Years 1 and 2 and in theory exams in Years 1 to 3.

C4 is assessed the summer laboratory course and practicals in Year 2.

C5 is assessed in several Year 2 practicals, the Skills module and the final year Research Project module.

D: Key skills

D1 Able to write clearly in: a) logically argued essays; b) longer reports, including basic scientific papers; c) a variety of other pieces of work for different target audiences; d) e-communications, in particular email. Plan, write and give oral presentations
D2 (i) Use of current networked PC operating systems for normal file management, (ii) Use a current common word-processing, spreadsheet, web browsing and email packages, (iii) Ability to locate and use on-line catalogues and databases
D3 (i) Use appropriate precision, scales, units, scientific notation, ratios, fractions, powers of 10, logarithms and exponentials. (ii) Use simple algebra and trigonometry and elementary calculus, (simple differentiation and integration). (iii) Use approximations for mental arithmetic estimation and verification.
D4 Explore, analyse and find effective solutions for problems involving reasonably complex information
D5 Work effectively as part of a team to collect data and/or to produce reports and presentations
D6 Study independently, set realistic targets, plan work and time to meet targets within deadlines. Reflect on assessed work, feedback, and progress; Plan, record and document personal development
Learning Methods:
Assessment Methods: Written skills (D1) are assessed through essays in coursework and exams (Years 1 to 3) and in practical reports (Years 1 and 2) and in the Issues module and the research project report (Year 3).

Oral presentation skills (D1) are assessed in the some Year 2 practicals, in Year 3 Issues Module and in the Year 3 Research Project module.

IT and Maths skills (D2 and D3) are assessed through worksheets and exams in Year 1.

Thereafter, practical work, coursework and exam questions throughout the degree course assess numerical skills.

Most coursework from Year 2 onwards has to be prepared by computer and submitted on-line.
Problem solving (D4) is assessed in some of the Year 2 practicals, in the Year 3 Issues Module, in DAI questions in Years 2 and 3 exams and in the final year research project.

D5 is assessed through team presentations in some Year 2 practical work and in the Year 3 Issues module.

D6 is assessed by examining directed learning material (Years 1 and 2), by awarding marks for evidence of additional reading and by imposing strict deadlines for coursework assignments.
D6 PDP is assessed in year 1 LSKS through the development of a cv and e-portfolio, and is developed in Year 2 Skills module.

The planning component of D6 is assessed in the Year 3 Research Project module.


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