BIOL231-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

Foundations in Molecular Biology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 3 March 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


Principles of genetics, including the structure of RNA and DNA, molecular replication, transcription, translation, recombination and gene expression.

We will introduce you to fundamental principles of molecular biology as they relate to inheritance and expression of phenotypes. It will focus on the “central dogma” of molecular genetics: making DNA, RNA and proteins and conclude with and introduction to gene expression.

The course is 24 lecture/tutorial contact hours. You should expect this course to be a significant “step up” from stage 100.

Prepare for this by:
• reserving more time for self study (see below);
• taking responsibility for identifying what you don’t know and using all available contact time to seek answers;
• completing assigned readings and recorded material in advance of lecture;
• asking questions during lecture and in the laboratory;
• self-testing by using questions in the recommended textbooks;
• participating in a study group.

Learning Outcomes

  • As a student in this course, I will develop the ability to:
  • Apply an understanding of the enzymology of DNA replication, transcription, translation and basic gene regulatory networks (assessment tasks: problem sets and test/exam).
  • Understand and interpret experimental evidence (assessment task: laboratory assignments).
  • Perform basic calculations for chemical solution preparation and dilutions and manipulations for setting up reactions in vitro (assessment task: laboratory assignments, final exam).
  • Compare the central dogma reactions in microbes to those in other forms of life (assessment tasks: problem sets, test/exam).
  • Formulate hypotheses to guide my own learning process (assessment task: laboratory assignments, test/exam).
  • Manage my time to achieve better outcomes (assessment task: prepare a time schedule for the semester).
  • Achieve a higher competence in self-guided learning through participation in class (reflecting on communication in a cultural context) and completing required reading assignments (analytical, critical thinking and problem solving in diverse contexts) (assessment: test/exam).

    Transferable Skills Register
    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • I can express myself as a scientist. This will be important for any career in research, journalism or business where you will need to communicate science to both experts and lay readers. We will discuss writing laboratory reports to assist you in developing your abilities to demonstrate deep understanding of science.
  • I can competently synthesise information. In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, construct your own understanding and shape your own viewpoint. In lectures/tutorials and laboratory sessions we will discuss different sources of evidence and types of experiments and how they lead to current understanding.
  • I can competently analyse data. Important for research, police work as well as in a number of private-sector organizations. This skill will be further developed when we assist you to analyse the data we generate in the lab.
  • I can confidently ask questions, and do so in a culturally appropriate way. A key skill is to identify what you don’t know and have the confidence to ask for clarification. Moreover, it is important to know how to be effective in getting answers, and this often requires some knowledge of the culture of those whom you seek knowledge. It is expected that you will practice this skill during lecture/tutorial/laboratory sessions.
  • Competence in personal time management to ensure preparedness for tutorials and laboratories.
  • Ability to work to an irregular schedule. This will be developed by taking personal responsibility for recording the time and location of class activities and ensuring your ability to attend.



BCHM202, ENCH480, BIOL230

Equivalent Courses

BCHM202, ENCH480

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 09:00 - 10:00 Rata 222 & 223 Drawing Office
19 Feb - 17 Mar
22 Apr - 19 May
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 11:00 - 12:00 Meremere 108 Lecture Theatre
19 Feb - 17 Mar
22 Apr - 19 May
Lecture C
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 10:00 - 11:00 E6 Lecture Theatre
19 Feb - 17 Mar
Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 13:00 - 16:00 West 543
29 Apr - 26 May
02 Thursday 08:00 - 11:00 West 543
29 Apr - 26 May
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 12:00 - 14:00 Rehua 102
25 Mar - 31 Mar
Tutorial B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 13:00 - 15:00 Beatrice Tinsley 112
18 Mar - 24 Mar
20 May - 26 May
02 Thursday 16:00 - 18:00 Rehua 528 (21/3)
Ernest Rutherford 460 (23/5)
18 Mar - 24 Mar
20 May - 26 May
03 Friday 14:00 - 16:00 A7 (22/3)
Jack Erskine 121 (24/5)
18 Mar - 24 Mar
20 May - 26 May

Examinations, Quizzes and Formal Tests

Test A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 19:00 - 20:30 Online Delivery
4 Mar - 10 Mar
Test B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 19:00 - 20:30 Online Delivery
11 Mar - 17 Mar
Test C
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 19:00 - 21:00 A3 Lecture Theatre
22 Apr - 28 Apr
Test D
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 19:00 - 20:30 Online Delivery
27 May - 2 Jun

Timetable Note

Prerequisites for entry to BIOL231 are BIOL111 or ENCH281. RP: CHEM112 or BCHM112 or CHEM114.
Prerequisites for entry to BCHM202 are P: (1) BIOL111 or ENCH281; (2) BIOL112 or BIOL113 or CHEM114 or CHEM112.

15 pts of chemistry is strongly recommended. If you haven’t had university level chemistry, more self-study will be necessary.

It is compulsory to wear a lab coat and safety glasses in the laboratory.

To purchase approved safety glasses, lab or coats go to

The collection point for purchases is inside the southern entry to the Ernest Rutherford Building,
Ernest Rutherford, Chemistry Stores, 130A
Note: Covered shoes must be worn in the stores areas.

Disposable gloves are available in the laboratory for those who might need them.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Jack Heinemann


Grant Pearce

Lab Technician

Thomas Evans


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Semester work schedule
Final Exam 25%
Laboratory assignments 32.5%
Course Test I 10%
Course Test II 22.5% Mid term test
Tutorial 10%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Craig et al; Molecular Biology Principles of Genome Function ; 3rd Ed; (This text is the best for BIOL231 and BIOL333).

David Lee Nelson, Michael M. Cox; Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry ; 6th Ed; (This text is the best for BCHM202 and other biochemistry courses).

One or the other of these texts.

Note that Watson, J.D., Baker, T.A., Bell, S.P., Gann, A., Levine, M. and Losick, R. Molecular Biology of the Gene, 7th Edition, and Prescott’s Microbiology 9th Ed (Willey, Sherwood and Woolverton), are also useful and were historically used this course. If you are a biochemistry or microbiology student and not planning to take more genetics courses, then you may wish to buy only the core text for your programme. Some material will be taken from Snyder and Champness Molecular Genetics of Bacteria, 3rd Ed.

Reading and study

Readings are assigned by individual lecturers. Students should note that in the Science Faculty the average student is expected use approximately 3.2 hours of additional study for each contact hour (i.e., lectures and labs) at the 200-level. In other words, readings and self-study opportunities cannot be repeated in lecture. That is, allow 108 hours of good self-study for this course.  It is your responsibility to make the best use of contact time, such as spare time during the laboratory, to achieve an understanding of the material. (Leaving the lab early is a lost opportunity.)



For details on feedback, please see the Learn pages. In general, your instructors routinely use a variety of means to communicate back to you regarding your progress. Feedback is not something that you only get after you complete an assignment. The most powerful feedback we provide you with is during contact hours. If you are able to participate during class activities drawing reasonably from the assistance of instructors, then you have feedback that you are making satisfactory progress. If you struggle or must disengage during class activities, this is feedback that you are making unsatisfactory progress. Specialist feedback is provided during tutorials IN ADVANCE of assessed work. The post-assessment grade is a second form of feedback. Disappointment with that grade should further inform how you approach the next tutorial. Pre-test/laboratory practice exercises, which you complete voluntarily, provide feedback to you IN ADVANCE of your scheduled contact hours. Failure to complete these is feedback that your preparation may be unsatisfactory. Your instructors are also very willing to meet with you personally to discuss questions on an individual basis. Your instructors use evidence-based pedagogy and do not believe that issuing “answers” or class statistics after an assignment or test constitutes effective or productive feedback.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $978.00

International fee $4,988.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL231 Occurrences

  • BIOL231-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024