BMS370 - Developmental Genetics

Module Co-ordinator: Dr V Cunliffe


This 10 credit practical module aims to provide students with experience of practical research techniques used in contemporary developmental biology. Students will perform experiments designed to reveal molecular and cellular principles underpinning developmental mechanisms. Emphasis will be placed on using molecular genetic methods with model organisms such as zebrafish and Drosophila melanogaster, for studying gene expression and gene function during development. Students will gain experience of performing experimental work, data collection, bioinformatics analysis and interpretation of results.


The practicals will provide experience of:

  • experimental techniques such as isolation and culture of embryos, inducing mutant clones by mitotic recombination, analysis of gene expression in transgenic, mutant or pharmacologically manipulated specimens, by histochemistry and/or in situ hybridisation.
  • data collection, analysis and interpretation.


By the end of the unit, students will:

  1. have experience of standard techniques used in contemporary research to dissect the mechanisms of animal development
  2. be able to analyse, interpret and present results generated with these techniques to describe developmental mechanisms in cellular and molecular terms

Teaching Methods

Students will be instructed in practical techniques as they are applied to specific developmental biological questions. Feedback on laboratory skills, experimental techniques and data analysis will be provided to students by staff during practical sessions. At the end of the course a debriefing session will provide an opportunity for students to discuss the practical work and results with staff.


One Laboratory Report of up to 2000 words on a selected practical topic, written in the style of a scientific paper, will be assessed. The assessment will evaluate the technical description of work done, analysis and interpretation of data, and understanding of the context and significance of the results. A Laboratory Notebook which documents your participation in experimental work should also be maintained throughout the duration of the module and handed in at the time the Laboratory Report is submitted.