BIOL460-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

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


Molecular biology comprises a suite of tools and approaches for understanding the structure and function of DNA, RNA and proteins. The primary goal of this course is to assist the development of scholars with advanced technical skills in molecular biology who can use these tools to infer evolutionary and functional relationships.

The primary goal of this course is to assist your development as a scholar and advance your research skills in fields of science that use molecular genetic data to answer a wide diversity of biological questions. Molecular Biology is a course that is particularly aimed at students who want to pursue a career in fields of biology that require an ability to analyse and interpret DNA sequence data, such as microbiology, molecular evolution, bioinformatics, systematics, molecular genetics/genomics and molecular ecology.

Recommended preparatory course(s): Any of BIOL333, BIOL334, BCHM 301/BIOL 331, BIOL 335.

Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of the course, students are expected to be able to:
  • Explain and discuss how phylogenetic and molecular biological approaches contribute to addressing deep problems facing society (GP1&5; assessment task: final exam).
  • Discuss how indigenous knowledge contributes to addressing the Biodiversity Crisis (GP3(K1,5,&6); assessment task: final exam).
  • Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of experimental design, methodology and data in the fields of phylogenetics and molecular biology (GP1; assessment task: final exam).
  • Critically evaluate molecular phylogenetic evidence (GP2; assessment task: final exam)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the scholarship on digital sequence information as it relates to discussions about responding to a global pandemic (GP1&5; assessment tasks: DSI debate, final exam)
  • Critically evaluate the complexities of defining digital sequence information and its geopolitical context (GP1,3(K5&6)&5; assessment tasks: DSI debate, final exam)

    Skills register
    The following skills are developed in this course:
  • Independent and self-motivated learning. A life-skill that is important in any career (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. (GP2)
  • Written and oral communication. Many employers require employees to have good communication skills (GP2).
  • Ability to recognise how local and indigenous science influences and is influenced by global activities (GP3).
  • Formulate clear, concise and evidence-based arguments in support of a perspective (GP 1&2)


Subject to approval of the Head of School.



Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 11:00 - 13:00 Jack Erskine 242
26 Feb - 3 Mar
11 Mar - 17 Mar
25 Mar - 31 Mar
22 Apr - 28 Apr
6 May - 12 May
20 May - 26 May

Course Coordinator

Jack Heinemann


Jack Heinemann


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Preparation for Seminar 4 20%
Various seminar-specific assignments 40%
Final Seminar Assignment 40%

• Attendance is mandatory. Failure to attend could result in failing the course. Active participation during seminars is expected.
• You will need to come prepared for the seminars by reading assigned material in advance. Students are expected to be able to answer questions when called upon in class during discussions of this material.
• As a rule of thumb, set aside about 12.5 hrs of effective self-study for every class hour (not including remedial review if it is required), in addition to writing time for assessments.


2024 theme: Molecular Biology Automated and Roboticised
This year, we will focus on developing an understanding of how knowledge and skills in molecular biology can be helpful for understanding and addressing major challenges to society. The six seminars of this course are designed to build skills and knowledge to be applied and demonstrated in a final take-home essay. Students will choose their topic from a list of five that are aligned with the theme of ‘Molecular Biology Digitised and Roboticised’. This learning will be scaffolded throughout the semester by discussing publications about a range of topics related to the course theme and via student presentations. In these presentations, students present their progress towards developing their essay and receive feedback and a pass/fail mark. Halfway through the course, students will also take a take-home essay-style test on required readings and associated seminar discussions.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,145.00

* 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 BIOL460 Occurrences

  • BIOL460-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024