- Code BIOL2151
- Unit Value 6 units
This course has been adjusted for remote participation in Sem 1 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. On-campus activities will also be available.
Have you ever watched a crime show on TV and wondered just how DNA forensic analysis really works? Does everyone really have a unique DNA fingerprint? Have you been tempted to spend $100 to get your own DNA tested? If so, did you know that your test results could help you to trace your ethnic background, find missing relatives and even help the police find a murderer? Have you ever wondered why you are a similar height to your siblings - is it because of your genes, or because of the environment you grew up in? Why do traits vary even when their underlying DNA sequence is exactly the same? What role does genetics play in your risk of developing diseases such as diabetes?
This course will introduce you to the principles of population, evolutionary and quantitative genetics. We do this by asking: what can we learn from DNA? In answering this question, we focus on the practical applications of the theory illustrated by human forensic DNA analysis, conservation genetics and evolutionary genetics. In the practical component of the course, students will gain hands-on experience in human forensic DNA profiling in the laboratory, as well as statistical analysis skills across a range of genetic topics. Other topics covered include Next Generation Sequencing and its emerging and far reaching applications in human forensics and conservation genetics; and genetic adaptation including epigenetics and plasticity.
Honours Pathway Option (HPO):
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Explain the key concepts in population, evolutionary and quantitative genetics including: the basis and estimation of genetic variation; Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium; population substructure, genetic drift; effective population size, inbreeding and inbreeding depression; genetic adaptation including epigenetics and genetic plasticity; and heritability.
- Understand the range of molecular laboratory techniques used routinely in human forensic analysis and population genetic analysis including sex typing, DNA profiling, Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) detection, Sanger DNA sequencing and Next Generation Sequencing.
- Perform the statistical analysis of genetic data relevant to forensic, conservation, quantitative and evolutionary genetics, and summarise and interpret the outcomes. This will be done by hand, calculator, and other statistical software including the widely-used package R.
- Search the literature to identify papers relevant to the genetic data sets provided for statistical analysis and integrate and evaluate the findings in written form.
This course is designed for both students needing a solid grounding in the principles of population and evolutionary genetics, in order to pursue studies in the fields of genetics, ecology, evolution and computational biology, as well as students who wish to gain a thorough understanding of the practical application of population genetics to human forensic DNA analysis, conservation biology and evolutionary biology. The focus is on principles and concepts, illustrated by examples drawn from studies of human, agricultural, laboratory and wild populations. The course also serves as an excellent introduction to concepts in quantitative biology, teaching students how to break down the calculation of somewhat complex genetic statistics into a series of simple steps that can be performed with a hand calculator, or computer software such as R. Feedback from students who have taken the course consistently highlights gains in confidence and skills for tackling biological calculations of broad relevance to any field in biology, and the value of the skills learned for courses taken later in their degree.
- Assignment 1 - Intro to Forensic DNA Analysis (15) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Assignment 2 - Statistics of Forensic DNA Analysis (25) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Assignment 3 - Quantitative Genetics (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Mini-assessment – Small regular assessment tasks spread across the course (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Final Exam (40) [LO 1,2,3]
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The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:
- Face-to face component which may consist of 3 x 1 hour lectures/tutorials per week (total 36 hours), 6 x 3 hours of practical and 6 x 1 hour of computer lab sessions throughout the semester.
- Approximately 70 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.
Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.
Not yet determined
Requisite and Incompatibility
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- Unit value:
- 6 units
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