Introducing Genetics


Aims & Objectives

The module aims to introduce students to the basic principles and concepts of Genetics. It is also designed to serve as an education in its own right, as well as complementing and underpinning other degree courses in Biology. Emphasis is given to understanding, and to developing a conceptual framework based on the transmission, the structure and the function of the genetic material. Genetics is studied at different levels of organisation from the molecular, through cells and individuals, up to populations and to evolutionary changes. Eukaryote and prokaryote aspects are fully integrated into the course which is designed to be taken as a whole rather than as a set of individual lectures.


The course begins with the main principles of transmission genetics in eukaryotes.

Nuclear division at mitosis is considered in the context of the cell cycle, and this is followed by karyotypes and chromosome complements.

Crossing experiments are then introduced, leading into the principle of gene segregation and the concepts of dominance, the testcross and allelic interaction.

Lecture four deals with independent segregation, recombination and other aspects of gene interaction.

Meiosis is covered in outline, in terms of the visible events, and meiotic chromosome behaviour is related to the processes of segregation and independent segregation.

Linkage, and intra-chromosomal recombination are then introduced and these processes are explained in terms of the behaviour an interaction of homologous chromosomes.

The structure of DNA is covered, and is followed by an overview of genes and proteins and the nature of the genetic code.

Gene action is reviewed through transcription and translation, and there is a consideration of what is a gene?

DNA replication and its relationship to the cell cycle and to chromosome structure are then dealt with.

Change in the genetic material through mutation follows on from structure, including the molecular basis of gene mutation and its relation to alleles, and to phenotypes.

Mutation frequency is covered, and there is an introduction to chromosome mutation.

Prokaryote bacterial cells and the organisation of their genetic material follows, including plasmids and bacteriophages.

There is a section on recombination and linkage in bacteria with detailed coverage of transduction and conjugation.

Genes in populations is dealt with in eukaryotes, including the concept of gene frequencies, change in gene frequencies and micro-evolution.

Sex-linked inheritance, and quantitative genetics and modes of selection in eukaryotes come at the end of the main thrust of the course.

The module ends with an introduction to molecular genetics, recombinant DNA and the regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes.

There are three practicals which complement the lectures. Aspects of the practical work are included in the theory examination paper.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module students will be able to answer Multiple Choice Questions to:
● Demonstrate a factual knowledge base
● Select solutions to numerical problems
● Select answers to diagrams of genetic processes
● Select answers to questions on practical work