• Class Number 3329
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • EmPr Susan Howitt
    • Dr Caitlin Byrt
    • Dr Joseph Brock
    • EmPr Susan Howitt
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

Genetics underpins many contemporary social issues in health and agriculture. Modern biology has been transformed by DNA sequencing of full genomes and the application of recombinant DNA technology to a range of problems, including inherited disease, cancer biology and drug development, evolution of pandemics, development of better crops, antibiotic action for example. Applying and evaluating genetic technologies relies on an understanding of the principles of molecular genetics, which will be covered in this course.


This course introduces the molecular mechanisms involved in the storage and expression of genetic information in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Topics to be covered include: genome structure and evolution, DNA structure and packaging; DNA replication and repair; transcription; regulation of gene expression; RNA processing; protein synthesis and the genetic code. These processes will be illustrated with case studies, ranging from the human genome and genetic disease to genetically modified crops.


The course includes a lab project that reinforces lecture material and introduces students to key strategies and techniques of molecular genetics.


Honours pathway option (HPO)

The honours pathway option is open to all students and involves participation in PeerWise, a web-based activity where students create, answer, rate and discuss multiple choice questions based on the course content. To qualify for the HPO, a minimum number of questions and comments must be posted.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Explain the basic processes involved in the expression of genetic information (DNA replication; mutagenesis and DNA repair; mRNA transcription and processing; gene regulation; protein synthesis; genome structure and evolution)
  2. Apply knowledge of the roles and functions of these processes to a range of problems and examples
  3. Predict outcomes when these processes are perturbed by mutation (genetic disease) or the use of inhibitors and drugs
  4. Elucidate differences in gene organization between prokaryotes and eukaryotes
  5. Interpret and analyse experimental and theoretical problems involving these processes
  6. Communicate experimental results and conclusions in a scientific manner.

Research-Led Teaching

BIOL2161 encourages students to develop a critical attitude towards science and to understand its evidence-based nature. Students will have opportunities to discuss case studies, problems and questions in class and online. These will be based on topical issues and applications of the material covered. Contemporary and historical controversies in genetics will also be introduced. These activities aim to show students how science evolves, as well as the relevance of genetics. The practical component consists of a semester-long research project in which students isolate and analyse mutants, giving them an opportunity to experience experimental strategies in genetics and use fundamental techniques. This also provides experience in recording, handling and interpreting both quantitative and qualitative data obtained in the experiments. The emphasis in the practical project is on generating and evaluating data because students must use experimental evidence to support a conclusion about the genotypes of the mutants they have isolated.



The textbook is Genetics: A Conceptual Approach by Benjamin Pierce, 6th edition

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Written comments on lab reports
  • Explanations of correct answers and common mistakes for tests
  • Online multiple choice question bank
  • Feedback to the whole class through in-lecture activities to test understanding and discussions of lab reports.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Module 1 DNA replication and repair; weeks 1-3 Test and practical report
2 Module 2 Gene structure, expression and regulation in prokaryotes; weeks 4-6 Test and short practical report
3 Module 3 Gene structure, expression and regulation in eukaryotes; weeks 7-9 Test
4 Module 4 Genomes and evolution; weeks 10-11 Test and practical report
5 Module 5 Case studies and revision; weeks 11-12

Tutorial Registration

The class will be split into three or four groups for practical classes, depending on final numbers. Information on how to select a group is available on Wattle.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Tests 20 % * * 1,2,3,4,5
Lab reports 29 % * * 1,2,3,5
Lab quizzes 6 % * * 1,2,3,5
End of Semester Exam 40 % 03/06/2021 01/07/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6
PeerWise participation 5 % * * 1-5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


The final exam is worth 40% of your grade. It will cover the entire course and will include some questions that require integration of the material in different modules and the practical course. A pass in the aggregate mark for the final exam plus the four module tests is required to pass the course overall.

Please note, that where a date range is used in the Assessment Summary in relation to exams, the due date and return date indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held and results returned to the student (official end of Semester results released on ISIS). Students should consult the course wattle site and the ANU final examination timetable to confirm the date, time and venue of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5


There will be 4 online tests worth 5% each, one covering each of the first 4 modules. Tests are online Wattle quizzes will be open for 30 hours from 6 pm Wednesday to midnight Thursday in weeks 4, 6, 9 and 11. Marks and feedback will be provided through Wattle one week after the test.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 29 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5

Lab reports

You will write full reports for the first and third practical experiments, and a short report for the second, and these will be submitted through Turnitin. Guides, report sheets and marking rubrics are provided in the lab manual and on Wattle.

The due dates for the three lab reports are: 22nd March, 26th April or 6th May (depending on your lab group) and 17th May at 11.55 pm.

The practical component of the course is an integrated lab and online experience, covering theory, experimental design and data analysis as well as hands-on lab skills. Remote students will be provided with data for each experiment and will have additional data interpretation activities to complete to replace the on-campus experiments.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 6 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5

Lab quizzes

There will be three lab quizzes worth 2% each. These will be associated with a self-paced tutorial that introduces students to the theory and experimental basis for the lab experiments.

These will be due on 8th March, 19th April and 10th May.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 03/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

End of Semester Exam

The date range in the Assessment Summary indicates the start of the end of semester exam period and the date official end of semester results are released on ISIS. Please check the ANU final Examination Timetable http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable to confirm the date, time and location of the mid-semester exam.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 5 %
Learning Outcomes: 1-5

PeerWise participation

PeerWise is an online resource that enables students to write, answer and comment on multiple choice questions. Marks will be allocated according to the level of participation, with requirements for numbers of questions answered, commented on and written. Students are expected to contribute on an on-going basis throughout the semester. Further details are available on the Wattle site.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Marks and feedback for each test and lab quiz will be provided online 1 week after the test closes.

Lab reports will be returned two weeks after submission.

PeerWise marks will be allocated two weeks after the final deadline.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
EmPr Susan Howitt

Research Interests

Susan Howitt - education and student learning

EmPr Susan Howitt

By Appointment
Dr Caitlin Byrt

Research Interests

Dr Caitlin Byrt

Dr Joseph Brock
02 6125 9090

Research Interests

Dr Joseph Brock

EmPr Susan Howitt
02 6125 9090

Research Interests

EmPr Susan Howitt

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions