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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Current Trends in Life Science Innovation I (PGSP11330)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits10
Home subject areaPostgrad (School of Social and Political Studies) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionIn the realm of information and communication technology (ICT), Moore's law describes the doubling of the number of transistors that can be placed on a standard integrated microchip. The law is really an inductive generalisation, but the context of science and technology innovation, the linearity of this projection is remarkable but is a consistent. Moore stated it in the 1970s on the basis of the preceding two decades, and it has held true for the last four decades.

Moore's law does not exist in biotechnology innovation, mostly because successive waves of biotechnology innovation do not displace previous versions with the same finality, as do innovations in the ICT world. Instead, the process of life science innovation tends to be more incremental and cumulative. Were there a Moore's law in bioscience and biotechnology, it would state that a doubling of depth and breadth in life science innovation is carried forward through successive generations of technology. That is, rather than a law of technological displacement, it is a law of cumulative complexity.

Students of the bioeconomy quickly realise that bioscience and biotechnology innovation has a quickly moving cutting edge, but it is suffused with past science and technology research, as well as attempts to develop and deliver products and services to the marketplace. As greater resources are put into the bioeconomy, it will only become more complex. A current understanding of the trends, trajectories, legacies and pitfalls associated with front running technology is crucial to understanding the evolution of the bioeconomy.

The specific aim of this course is to consolidate and impart insights about current trends in life science innovation. The chief objective of the course is to bring students up to date with current trends, to indicate how different branches of the life sciences relate to one another, and to discuss patterns of convergence and divergence in technological innovation.

The scope of the course is set in two related ways. The first is to identify the trends and trajectories that are current or expected that now shape the bioeconomy and are expected to shape it in the future. The second is to frame current trends in terms of the legacies and pitfalls associated various bioscience and biotechnology trajectories to convey an understanding of how trends are followed and watched, and how the empirical base for science and technology foresight are developed.

This course requires no prior knowledge of the area
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?No
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 1, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  16
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 16/09/2013
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 88 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course students will have:

- Have comprehensive knowledge of the current trends in life science innovation, including, but not limited to: synthetic biology, systems biology, bioinformatics, genetics and genomics, nanobiotechnology, and industrial applications of biotechnology (eg. OLEDs - organic light emitting displays).

- Be able to deploy their knowledge in practical contexts to differentiate bioscience and biotechnology with long scientific pedigrees from those that are clearly at the leading, possibly even speculative, edge.

- Have the critical analysis skills to differentiate between bioscience and biotechnology for which there is a growing evidentiary base, versus those areas that are stagnant or waning, as a means to develop science and technology foresighting skills.
Assessment Information
Assessment will be a final essay of no more than 3000 words on a topic to be agreed between the student and the course convener. This might be a short research paper, literature review, or the application of a regional or sector analysis on the bioeconomy. The assessment may focus on a particular week's topic, or it may cover a broad range of issues covered throughout the course. Students should contact the course convenor to discuss potential assessment topics at the earliest opportunity.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Week 2 (Sept 25) Synthetic biology and systems biology

To be Confirmed

Week 4 (Oct 9) Bioinformatics as the underpinning of bioscience

To be Confirmed

Week 6 (Oct 23) Genomics, genetics and big biology

To be Confirmed

Week 8 (Nov 6) Nanobiotechnology and the emergence of convergence

To be Confirmed

Week 10 (Nov 20) Industrial applications of biotechnology

To be Confirmed
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list The required readings are directly tied to each week's key objectives and learning outcomes. It is essential that they are read closely and all students will be expected to contribute to discussions around these readings. Additional readings are listed, where appropriate, to provide a broader overview of the topic and will be useful for further reflection and for the assessed coursework. All required readings will be made available on the course Learn or through the journal holdings of the University library. If there are any problems accessing the readings, please contact the course convenor.

The readings for this course are primarily at the discretion of the contributing guest lecturers, in consultation with the course convenor and the Programme Director. They are, however, expected to meet the twin criteria set out above - they must be current, and they must be generally representative of the special fields of bioscience research and biotechnology development. Representative journals could include the specialist journals within the Nature family, Science, Trends in Biotechnology, Annual Reviews of Genomics and Human Genetics, The Lancet, Quarterly Review of Biology, to name a few.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern The course will begin with an overview of the emergence of and specialisation in the life science, leading up to Nobel Laureate Robert Curl's proclamation that whereas the 20th Century belonged to physics and chemistry, the 21st Century would be the century of biology. This introduction will set the stage for a series of invited lectures from bioscience and biotechnology specialists. The guest lecture series will be given by academic research scientists, entrepreneurs who have migrated from the university to the private sector, scientists within large biotechnology firms, and government research scientists. The annual list of speakers will be developed primarily from lists of contacts maintained by Innogen, the Genomics Forum, and STIS.
Each guest lecturer will provide approximately three selected readings during the ten week course. With an introductory lecture and concluding seminar, the five invited lectures will span a considerable swath of contemporary bioscience and biotechnology innovation.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf David Castle
Tel: (0131 6)50 2449
Course secretaryMiss Jodie Fleming
Tel: (0131 6)51 5066
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