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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: Molecular and Synthetic Plant Biology 3 (BILG09021)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will cover the physiology, molecular biology and biochemistry of higher plants and their interactions with microorganisms. This course particularly explores the aspects of biology that makes plants unique. It also highlights research areas that may be particularly relevant to agricultural biotechnology.
Course description Molecular and Synthetic Plant Biology 3 (MSPB3) looks at how plants work and how this knowledge is being used in crop improvement and biotechnology. This course is also about developing your skills ¿ from designing and analysing experiments to finding, evaluating, and presenting information.

The course particularly explores aspects of plants that make them unique. It is centred on the processes underlying growth, development, and how plants interact with their environment and with the pathogens and symbionts that they share it with.

By the end of the course, you will know how plants use their genetic information and how this knowledge can be harnessed via the latest synthetic biology, gene editing and high-throughput sequencing technologies available to improve crops and tackle climate change.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed The Green Planet 2 (BILG08016)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Biological Sciences students are automatically eligible to take this course by having completed the compulsory Year 2 courses [Biology 2A (BILG08024), Biology 2B (BILG08025) and Biology 2C (BILG08026)].
Students from other Schools are advised to enquire with the Course Organiser if you are not sure whether this course is suitable for you.
Additional Costs You may incur additional costs for purchasing books or other compulsory study material.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesEquivalent of the courses listed above.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 6, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 25, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 143 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course is assessed by five in-course assignments and an exam.
The successful completion of all pieces of course work is an essential requirement to pass this course.
The assessed in-course work is made up of the following components: 3 Practical Reports, 1 Oral Presentation and 1 Bioinformatic Analysis Report.
Feedback Feedback is given on in-course work including an oral presentation. The Course Organiser will run a feedback session towards the end of the course in which students are invited to raise any points on the course.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understanding the principles of plant-microbe interactions, RNA silencing, gene editing, light control of plant growth and genomics
  2. Expanding skills in literature review, experimental design, data analysis and lab practice.
  3. Learning to evaluate and synthetise ideas and concepts about modern plant biology
  4. Developing skills in scientific communication including an oral presentation
  5. Improving critical thinking and autonomous working
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and Understanding: All components of the course provide this to some degree but your lectures, in particular, provide an important framework upon which you can build these attributes. This University considers itself to be a research-led Institution and you will be exposed to cutting edge information and ideas as you progress through your degree course. In this course you will develop a comprehensive knowledge of the basic functions of plants, including; how plants take up minerals and translocate solutes, how plants respond to light, the complex interplay between plants and pathogens, and the molecular basis of signalling in plants. By the end of the course, you should have an in-depth understanding of how plants 'work', backed up by numerous examples from the current literature.

Research and Enquiry: These skills are enhanced by encouraging further reading of books, research papers and electronic materials. Practical related reports will allow you to develop your enquiry skills and develop your own views of the subject. This will allow you to search the literature and condense your views. Understanding how to use Pubmed
( will, in part, prepare you for these aspects. It provides a route to surveying current and past scientific arguments, in an appropriate context, and provides the foundation for hypothesis-driven analysis.

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy: By reading and preparation of materials for tutorial sessions, you will learn to synthesise your own views, develop reasoned arguments and further refine your scientific judgement. A number of feedback sessions are offered, allowing students to voice their opinions and views on the subjects discussed. Such skills will enhance your capacity for life-long and independent learning.

Communication: It is important that you develop skills to interact constructively with others and convey knowledgeable and balanced scientific views. During the course, you will gain experience in oral presentation skills by both presenting and listening to short talks. Constructive feedback is supplied during these sessions by both staff and fellow students.

Personal Effectiveness: The ability to organise and summarise your thoughts and material in a flexible and accessible way are core features that are required for personal effectiveness. Planning, time management and reflection are central to this. By providing you with a timetable where key submission dates are highlighted, we encourage you to develop your effectiveness throughout this course. These same skills extend to other courses and also to your overall ability to maximise your achievement whilst studying at this University.

Technical and Practical Skills: In order to continue in a scientific career, it is important that you not only understand the conceptual basis of how experiments are designed and carried out but also that you have the underpinning practical skills required for employability. Our course has a lab component which is designed to prepare you for this. Your laboratory training provides skills in plant transformation techniques, numerical handling of data and basic molecular techniques including PCR. The lab skills you develop from your practical sessions, in critical observation, investigation and interpretation, careful recording, quantification and analysis, should serve you well in any future employment.
KeywordsPlant Biology,Molecular,Synthetic
Course organiserDr Attila Molnar
Tel: (0131 6)50 5335
Course secretaryDr Edward Dewhirst
Tel: (0131 6)50 8649
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