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Molecular Plant Science

Module titleMolecular Plant Science
Module codeBIO2099
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Mike Deeks (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Plants form the basis for all terrestrial landscapes and ecosystems. Plants impact climate, global food security and provide renewable energy resources. Plant biology is at the forefront of 21st century efforts to understand and engineer a more stable and equitable society. In this module you will learn ‘post-genomic’ methods in plant science and the skills needed to plan your own investigations into molecular mechanisms. You will understand how plants interact with other organisms and mount elaborate defences to protect themselves from a constantly evolving array of pathogens. Finally you will explore how plant science underpins world agriculture, the biological basis of beneficial agricultural traits and how we can breed future-proof crop varieties including modern fast track methods and genetic modification (GM).

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module introduces you to advanced concepts in plant biology with a focus on understanding (i) at the molecular, physiological, and subcellular levels, how plants develop and respond to their environment and (ii) how selective breeding has impacted society and global ecosystems. This module teaches you how to research molecular mechanisms but encourages a holistic view of the role of plants on the planet and in human society.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Plan investigations to analyse the function of genes and proteins in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana
  • 2. Explain the importance of understanding cellular and subcellular responses through use of model systems
  • 3. Explain using examples how plants defend themselves against insects and microbes

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Describe and evaluate approaches to our understanding of plant biology with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles
  • 5. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 6. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, investigation and enquiry within the biosciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently by written, visual and oral means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 8. Develop, with some guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with valid conclusions
  • 9. Interpret data, drawing on a range of sources, with limited guidance
  • 10. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Theme 1: The role of plants in the earth’s climate, photosynthesis and resource acquisition.

Theme 2: The application of model plants to understanding fundamental plant processes; plant signalling mechanisms and the use of genomics and imaging to understand plant responses.

Theme 3: Plants interacting with other organisms, including bacteria, fungi and insects.

Theme 4: Plants as food producing systems; major crops and their origins;  concepts in plant breeding; genetic modification of plants; food production.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching22Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching15Laboratory practicals
Guided independent study20Poster presentation
Guided independent study16CA test preparation
Guided independent study47Lecture consolidation and reading
Guided independent study30Revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Question and answer session lectures30 minutes1-4Oral in lecture

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay examination601 hour2-9Feedback sheet
Poster presentation25Over 2 hour period1, 4, 7-10Feedback sheet
MCQ test1530 minutes2-4, 6Marked answer sheet


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay examinationEssay examination2-9August Ref/Def
Poster presentationNot applicableNot applicableNot applicable
MCQ testEssay examination2-9August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The presentation assessment is not deferrable because of its practical nature. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • No basic text covers the diverse and contemporary nature of the lecture material. Lecturers will provide specific reading lists or .pdfs uploaded to ELE as appropriate.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Molecular biology, genomics, hypothesis testing, gene editing, live-cell imaging, multicellular development, agriculture, photosynthesis, crops, resource acquisition, food security, genetic modification, plant breeding, plant-microbe interactions, plant physiology, plant pathogens

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

BIO1334 Genetics, BIO1339 Cells

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date