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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Postgraduate

Postgraduate Course: Biodesign for Sustainability (PGBI11127)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryBiodesign is a rapidly emerging and multidisciplinary field that aims to design novel biological molecules and system. This course focuses on the application of biodesign to address challenges in sustainability.
Course description For almost all of human history, natural biological systems have provided all of the resources required by humans to survive and thrive. The discovery of fossil fuels and chemical processes rapidly replaced natural systems and traditional methods in agriculture, medicine and industry. While these developments have led to an astonishing improvement in quality of life of the average person, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the continued use of fossil fuels is unsustainable and is altering the climate of the planet with potentially catastrophic consequences, so we must develop alternative solutions. Modern understanding of biology has led to the development of techniques to directly modify biological molecules and systems, so rather than relying on natural diversity, we can design new biology to replace these processes and tackle the challenges that society is currently facing.

This course aims to provide an overview of the rapidly emerging field of biodesign, where biological molecules and systems are repurposed, modified or designed from scratch. We will specifically focus on applications of biodesign for sustainability, and demonstrate how novel biological systems can, and have, replaced environmentally damaging processes. Lecturers with active research labs in this field will cover 5 key areas where biodesign is being applied: agritech, biomaterials, biocatalysis, biologics and sensing. Students will work in small groups to tackle "biodesign challenges" set by each lecturer, where they will be supported to develop creative solutions to these challenges, applying the biodesign techniques that they are learning to develop feasible research plans.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) There are two forms of assessment for the course:
1. Five group presentations addressing the biodesign challenges (50%, only the marks of the best 4 of 5 presentations will be included to account for potential group difficulties and to provide an element of formative assessment). Marks will be assigned based on originality, feasibility, planning and biosafety/ethical considerations.
2. An individual mock grant application based on the students' favourite biodesign challenge (50%)
Feedback Each presentation group will be provided with written feedback, which will be returned to the students with their marks. Written feedback will be given for the mock grant application.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe and evaluate the different methods that can be used to design novel biological systems and molecules
  2. Read and summarise research literature to assess the current state of a field in biodesign to identify challenges and opportunities
  3. Create and communicate feasible-research proposals that apply biodesign to tackle challenges in sustainability in a safe and ethical manner
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Curiosity for learning that makes a positive difference
Creative problem solvers and researchers
Skilled communicators
Course organiserDr Christopher Wood
Tel: (0131 6)50 5534
Course secretaryMs Karen Sutherland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3404
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