BIOL333-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Molecular Genetics

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


BIOL333 is an advanced molecular genetics course that builds on the conceptual frameworks developed in the pre-requisite course BIOL231/BCHM202. It provides in-depth coverage across the breadth of life with an emphasis on gene expression, gene concepts and biotechnology.

We will cover advanced formulations of genes (beyond DNA), complex interactions between genotype and environment, and discuss molecular models of genome evolution (e.g, when do collections of genes become genomes?).

You should expect this course to be a significant “step up” from stage 200. Prepare for this by:

• reserving more time for self study;
• taking responsibility for identifying what you don’t know and using all available contact time to seek answers;
• completing assigned readings and assignments in advance of lectures, tutorials and labs;
• asking questions;
• completing optional problem sets;
• self-testing by using questions in the recommended textbooks;
• organising or joining a study group.

Learning Outcomes

  • Hua Akoranga (Intended Learning Outcomes) and Aromatawai (Associated Assessment)
    As a student in this course, I will:
    Learning Outcome Number 1 (LO1)
    anticipate and diagnose phenotypic effects of genome-, transcriptome-, and proteome-level reactions through mastery of the enzymology (assessment tasks: problem sets and final assignment). GP1
    Learning Outcome Number 2 (LO2)
    design new gene circuits (assessment task: laboratory assignments and problem sets). GP1
    Learning Outcome Number 3 (LO3)
    understand and interpret experimental evidence in the discipline of genetics (assessment task: laboratory assignments, problem sets and final assignment). GP1
    Learning Outcome Number 4 (LO4)
    perform advanced calculations and manipulations for setting up reactions in vitro (assessment task: laboratory assignments and flowsheets). GP1
    Learning Outcome Number 5 (LO5)
    formulate hypotheses to guide my own learning process (assessment task: laboratory assignments, course test and final assignment). GP1
    Learning Outcome Number 6 (LO6)
    demonstrate awareness of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Te Tiriti recognises the role and responsibility of all citizens to respect the foundation of Aotearoa and its bi-cultural partnership (assessment task: job interview). GP3:KP4,7
    Learning Outcome Number 7 (LO7)
    manage my time to achieve better outcomes. Deadlines are not targets. Set your own target completion times to avoid missing deadlines (assessment task: prepare a time schedule for the semester). GP2

    Pūkenga Ngaio / Transferable Skills Register
    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • Scientists may work in areas that generate controversy both within their professions and between their professions and broader society. This is both appropriate and to be expected. Academic scientists and students have the responsibility to serve as critic and conscience of society. You will be introduced to this role and be provided with some examples of how to perform it. GP4 and GP5
  • Framing questions and asking them. This will be important for any career in research, journalism or business where you will need to form judgments based on scientific information. We will have tutorials in the course where you are expected to verbally participate and practice this skill. GP2
  • Synthesising information. In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, construct your own understanding, shape your own viewpoint and express it. In tutorials and laboratory sessions we will discuss different sources of evidence and types of experiments and how they lead to current understanding. GP2
  • Analysing data. Important for research, police work as well as in a number of private-sector organizations. As well as working with your own laboratory data, the final assignment for the course requires you to critically analyse scientific data supplied to a government regulator. GP2
  • Ability to prepare for and efficiently conduct practical work in the discipline. This skill will be further developed from previous courses through the use of laboratory work flowsheets, but also by an expectation that the laboratory manual has been thoroughly read in advance and additional readings have been read and understood. GP2
  • Time management. Students must be able to complete their study and assignments on time. Juggling multiple courses can be challenging especially because they can have tasks needing to be completed at the same time. Organising your assignments and using the blended functions of this course should help you to minimise timing conflicts between courses. GP2
    Graduate Profile (GP) 1. Critically competent in the core academic discipline; 2. Employable, innovative and enterprising; 3. Bi-cultural confidence and competence; 4. Engaged with the community; 5. Globally aware.
    Students should note that in the College of Science the average student is expected use a minimum of approximately 3 hours of additional effective study for each hour of contact. Depending on your preparation and personal circumstances, you may have to invest up to 4.5 hours/contact hour. For this course, that equates to ≥120 productive self-study hours.




Timetable Note

It is compulsory to wear a lab coat 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.


Question Median student ratings Selected comments

Q1. The materials provided helped me to understand what was required to succeed in this course. 4.00 “There is an insane amount of material that is expected to be read” [Reply: The amount of reading is in line with College of Science guidelines. However, more may be required if performance in preparatory courses was marginal. Note also the response to question 3, below.]
“I found the papers and videos provided on echo to be a good supplement to the lack of lectures.” [Reply: this course uses fewer contact hours in a lecture format, but has the same number of contact hours as other 300 level Biology courses. Action: no change.]
“felt under prepared to complete the final project which is worth 50% of the course.” [Reply: students are encouraged to begin work in the final project already in the first few weeks of the course. If this advice not taken, then there will feel like a lot of pressure at the end.]
“ I still find it unclear which experiments we were meant to be familiar with in order to succeed in the final project, because the experiments conduced in lab time had not been sufficient exposure to the various techniques.” [Reply: the laboratory component of the course does not and cannot cover every methodology underpinning your final project, which is a question you chose to work on. That is part of the work involved in the final project.]

Q2. The organisation of this course helped me learn.
4.00 “I found the tutorials far more helpful than the lectures. Not because the lectures were uninformative (they were helpful) but because the tutorials meant you couldn't procrastinate learning the relevant information.” [Action: no change.]
“The problem sets were useful (although hard...), however I feel like I've only really learned one half of the material.” “I think every student should complete eight tutorials - even if you're grade doesn't count on the other one. I think this will help people understand the material better and actually know if they understand it.” [Action taken: All students are required to complete all problem sets, even though only half are graded. However, as of 2020 all students will demonstrate competence in all modules.]
“I think it was good to not actually have to go to lectures and instead have tutorial time to discuss.”

Q3. I found the workload was appropriate to the level of the course.
4.00 “ It was a good amount of work spread across the semester.” [Reply: some students did find the course difficult and refereed to the workload. The workload has been carefully reviewed and found to be within line of a 150 point course. The workload is itemised on the Learn pages.]

Q4. I found the assessments appropriate for the course
4.00 “The mock job Interview…although I hated it very much, was very well done and I defiantly think it should continue because it assess different skills from other papers…as well as giving us a taste of what the real world is going to be like. Feedback on it was also very helpful as it can help us improve skills that we sometimes overlook or avoid (public speaking etc).” [Action: no change.]

Q5. Where I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful.
4.00 “I think fewer lectures and more tutorial classes would be beneficial. The lectures were short and didn't cover much material anyway. I love the depth in which topics were expected to be learnt and having short lectures just isn't enough to give us a good picture of topics. I would suggest eliminating lectures and giving more time and spreading out tutorials.” [Reply: I agree with this comment, but previous classes asked for more lecture. This is the compromise ratio that seems to in general work for most of the class (average to this question was 4.25).]
“Over all it was a great class and I feel I learnt more than I have in any other single class. It's not just about the ‘facts’ but also being confident in finding information my self and self learning, as well as approaching problems from ways I have never thought to do so in the past. This is my final year at University and I thank Jack for giving me confidence in my postgraduate career and beyond.” [Action: no change.]
“Jack provides good quality feedback, thank you.” [Action: no change.]
“ I have no idea which answers in tutorials I actually got right or wrong and why.” [Reply: In tutorials, we discuss the answers to all questions. That is feedback. If the tutorial is not attended, then you are missing your opportunity for feedback.]
Job interview “Thanks for the feedback on the interview…I actually really enjoyed the experience. You did well to make the environment feel as if it was real world related. I imagined the interview to initially be like an ‘in your office scenario’ where the conversation is a lot more light hearted and the exploration of concepts/ideas and questions are explored through conversation and questions between each other. So well done on defying that expectation, it caught me off guard for sure! Anyway, I really enjoyed that experience and it would be cool to see in other course, I'm just so annoyed that I thought of the answers after the interview.” [Action: no change.]
“ I thought the lab interview was good test idea.”
“ The job interview assessment was subjective, unhelpful, and an overall awful experience.” [Reply: all assessments can be awful and that is especially true for a format that is less familiar. But different learning goals require different assessment formats.]

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Jack Heinemann

Lab Coordinator

Brigitta Kurenbach


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Laboratory assessments 30%
Final Project 45%
Modules 15%
Pre-requisite competence 10%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Craig et al; Molecular Biology Principles of Genome Functions ; 3rd;

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, Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry 6th Ed., 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. These are also available in the Library.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $951.00

International fee $4,750.00

* 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.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 10 people apply to enrol.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL333 Occurrences

  • BIOL333-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023