Medical Genetics BSc(Hons) 2017-18

This course also available for 2018-19 entry

Want to join us in September? You can now apply via Clearing


Here’s what student Eleanor has to say about her course in the subject area of Biological Sciences.

Biological Sciences ‌Find out more about Biological Sciences at Huddersfield


About the course

Medical genetics is designed to provide detailed mechanistic understanding of the causes of inherited diseases and how current genetic research is being used to understand and tackle diseases such as cancer. Genetics and epigenetics are at the heart of modern developmental sciences including embryology and stem cell biology. The course aims to provide a systematic theoretical and practical approach to the application of genetics in medical and biological sciences research. The course can be a starting point for careers in genetic counselling (this requires a Master's course following the BSc) or research degrees in any area of medical genetics. As a graduate you can consider careers in medical research, the pharmaceutical industry and many other aspects of health sciences.

All our teaching staff are educated to doctoral level in their respective subject areas and have expertise in most areas of biological sciences.As a student on the course you'll be eligible for student undergraduate Associate Membership of the Biochemical Society and the Physiological Society (UK).

You'll have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience using scientific instrumentation in our modern biological sciences labs. In the third year of your course, you'll also have the chance to benefit from a work placement. This could help you to gain relevant real-world experience and enhance your future employability prospects.

Course scholarships available – up to £3000. More details.

UCAS code:

Start date:
18 / 09 / 2017


3 years full-time
4 years inc. placement year

Course type:

Full Time inc. placement year

Course content

Watch our Biological Sciences subject area video to hear how student Eleanor has found her course at Huddersfield.

The study of cellular biology and molecular genetics has influenced medical research and the development of new ways of diagnosing and treating disease. This course provides you with an opportunity to follow rapid advances in these areas, to develop an understanding of the implications of human genetic research and how genomics and proteomics are being applied in diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Year 1 shares modules with our other biological sciences courses and lays the foundation for your study of advanced topics such as molecular evolution in Year 2 and applied molecular genetics in the final year.

Year 1

Core modules:

Molecular and Cellular Biology

The module is designed to give a basic introduction to cellular biology and genetics. You’ll have the opportunity to study the cellular basis of life, comparing the simple prokaryotes with much more complex eukaryotic cells - looking at the structure and function of many of the sub-cellular organelles. You’ll also be introduced to simple Mendelian genetics, together with more complex linkage analysis and its use in identifying genes. You will be assessed by coursework and exam.

Biochemistry 1

This is a fundamental module for all biological sciences courses. Lectures and seminars provide insight into (i) the structure and function of biological macromolecules, including proteins and DNA; (ii) the processes by which the central biochemical pathways make energy, and build new cells from raw materials. Basic concepts in metabolism and metabolic regulation are introduced to show how biochemistry underpins a multitude of processes from athletic performance to human disease. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Chemical and Physical Principles of Biology

This module covers the basic principles of chemistry that are encountered in our biological sciences degrees and food and nutrition degrees. The module starts with material covered at GSCE and progresses to AS-Level standard. The material covered includes units of measurement, atoms, moles, bonding, pH values, pKa values, organic molecules and spectroscopy. The module aims to help you to develop the necessary skills to be effective biologists and nutritionists. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Physiology 1: Structure and Function

The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to normal and abnormal human bodily functions. The module introduces basic physiological concepts and the clinical relevance of these will be highlighted using clinical examples. This insight into human physiology is designed to enhance your understanding of related subject areas such as pharmacology . A variety of teaching activities will be used on this module including lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes. The laboratory sessions help you to gain basic laboratory skills in physiological measurement through assessed written practical reports. You’ll also be assessed by a final examination.

The World of Microbes

This module aims to introduce you to the full range of microbial life and the techniques used to study microorganisms. The course begins by introducing the diversity and countless activities of microbes. Subsequently, the structural and functional components of the cell and the similarities and differences of prokaryotes and eukaryotes are highlighted. Control of microbial growth, nutritional categories of microbes and environmental factors influencing the growth and viability of microbes are also investigated. The module then examines the biology of eukaryotes (fungi, algae and protozoa) by exploring classification, growth, asexual and sexual reproduction and nutritional adaptations. Finally, the classification of microorganisms is reviewed along with the criteria for the identification of microbes. The associated practical classes are designed to develop your laboratory skills and familiarity with the basic microbiological methods. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Research Skills

This module enables you to develop the requisite background skills for successful completion of an Honours degree in which understanding of scientific research methods plays an important part. The type of skills that you’ll be encouraged to develop during the year can be divided into two areas, numerical skills and information and communication skills. The numerical skills component begins with some basic mathematical skills such as rearranging equations and working with logarithms and exponential data. You’ll then be introduced to a variety of statistical methods during lectures and tutorials. Assessment is by a series of coursework.

Year 2

Core modules:

Molecular Biology

This module gives you an understanding of the fundamental processes involved in replicating and expressing genes in all living organisms and how this expression is controlled. You’ll have the chance to learn about the techniques used in biology to isolate and analyse genes for genetic manipulation. You’ll also have opportunities to learn this from a practical point of view, through tutorials based on experiments and by taking part in several practical sessions, involving actual genetic manipulation and analysis techniques. Assessment will be by coursework and exam.

Biochemistry 2

This module expands on your previous knowledge of protein structure and function. This is followed by an account of protein folding and how mis-folded proteins can cause disease. You’ll be introduced to more advanced techniques for studying protein structure such as X-ray crystallography, NMR and circular dichroism. The advantages and limitations of each technique are discussed. The structure and functions of mitochondria and chloroplasts are covered, including respiration and photosynthetic pathways, focusing on electron transport chains. The design of enzyme assays and kinetics of enzyme catalysis are described in lectures and problem based tutorials. You will be assessed by exam and practical laboratory exercises.

Genomes and Evolution

This module aims to provide an understanding of how the eukaryote genome is organized and how the information contained within it has changed and evolved over time. It describes the arrangement of genetic information in the major groups of living organisms, and recent fundamental changes in our understanding of them. The module introduces the concepts of sequence assembly and phylogenetic reconstruction, applying this to problems in molecular evolution, focusing ultimately on human origins. Theoretical aspects include Neutral Theory and some of the difficulties experienced when applying the ‘molecular clock’. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Epidemiology and Public Health

Epidemiology is the study of epidemics in the population. In this module you’ll investigate the extent and distribution of diseases and the factors that influence these distributions. By conducting epidemiological studies we can assess factors that may be causative of diseases in the population and therefore reduce the risk. You’ll look at the different kinds of studies used to obtain such information. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Research Skills 2

Understanding and interpreting modern scientific data and literature is an important skill needed for modern careers in biological sciences. This module is designed to help you to develop key research and presentation skills that help prepare you for your final year research project, and also for interviews and careers in science. Topics are individually selected with guidance from the module leader. The main objective is to develop the core scientific skills of researching appropriate peer-reviewed literature, interrogating the primary research, meta-analysis and then building a detailed and focused report and scientific presentation.

Option modules: Choose one from a list which may include-

Physiology 2: Control and Integration

Physiology is the study of how the body works. It uses information from disciplines ranging from biochemistry to anatomy to explain how cells work and form organ systems, which are integrated to enable the body to function. In your first year you’ll have had the opportunity to learn about basic physiological concepts. This second year module covers the control and integration of physiological functions by the nervous and endocrine systems. Practical laboratory classes complement the lectures and tutorials. The module is assessed by reports and an exam.

Medical Pharmacology

The purpose of this module is to help you to develop knowledge and understanding of the most important general principles of drug action, and to familiarise you with the main drug classes used to treat minor illnesses. This module introduces some of the many interactions between pharmacological agents and the human organism. It is essential to establish a thorough understanding of how drugs interact with the body to achieve the objectives of the course. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Cell Biology

This module is an extension of the Molecular & Cellular Biology) module. You’ll be encouraged to study both cells and tissues in some depth, paying particular attention to the complex ways in which cells have evolved to communicate with each other at both intercellular and intracellular levels. You’ll also compare connective tissues and epithelial tissues, paying particular attention to the extracellular matrix proteins, which give each type of tissue is own unique properties. The module is assessed by an extended practical report and an examination.

Year 3 - optional placement year

Supervised Work Experience

This placement year allows you to experience employment within an organisation related to your chosen course. The placement is usually 48 weeks in duration.

Final year

Core modules:

Research Project

This module provides you with the experience of working independently on an open-ended research project depending on your career aspirations or interests. There is a choice available from a wide range of cellular, genetic, physiological and biochemical topics. You’ll be assigned to a supervisor who will give advice on both the day to day running of the project and the writing of the report. Tutorial support covers health and safety risk assessments, project planning, literature searching, writing a report and referencing. The module is assessed by coursework.

Applied Molecular Genetics

This module provides an in-depth description of many of the current applications of molecular genetics. Major areas covered are expression vector systems, next generation DNA sequencing techniques, advanced PCR methods and site-directed mutagenesis techniques. The application of molecular genetic techniques for medical research, the production of pharmaceuticals, the generation of transgenic organisms, metabolite engineering and protein engineering are described with illustrations of current research in these areas. Tutorials reinforce salient points in lectures and help you to develop problem solving and investigative skills. Assessment is by coursework and exam.


This module provides you with the opportunity to develop an in depth understanding of how genome, proteome, transcriptome and metabolome data are integrated into modern molecular biology research. The use of X-ray crystallography, NMR and mass spectroscopy to solve chemical and macromolecular structures are described. Training is provided on the use of computer software and databases for sequence alignment, restriction mapping, phylogenetic analysis and 3D molecular modelling. Assessment is by an exam and computer based assignments.

Medical Genetics

The module introduces you to molecular genetic and cytogenetic techniques. You'll start with DNA technology in disease, gene mapping, cloning and sequencing, and the latest modern methods for disease diagnosis, including DNA chips. You'll then move onto prenatal diagnosis, population screening and developmental mutations, and will consider the current state of gene therapy and animal models for human disease. The module focuses on two particular diseases - cystic fibrosis and diabetes. Finally, you'll have the opportunity gain further understanding of the role of ethics in medical genetics. Understanding/problem solving will be assessed by examination (and via an in-class problem solving assessment).

Option modules: Choose one from a list which may include-

Cancer Biology

The module discusses our current knowledge on the process of cancer development. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about mechanisms that drive the cell cycle, including the role of key regulatory proteins that control specific checkpoints and DNA damage surveillance mechanisms. Other aspects you’ll become familiar with include the tumour microenvironment, deregulation of death, evasion of immunosurveillance and the role of stem cells. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Advanced Physiology

The module continues the theme of control mechanisms introduced in the module Physiology 2 whilst studying some physiological systems first encountered in the module Physiology 1. Major topics include renal physiology and in-utero programming of disease; the physiological basis for angiogenesis and; the regulation of transport across the gut. The module is assessed by coursework and an exam.

Immunology and Infection

After a brief introduction to the nature of the immune system, you’ll have the opportunity to study the different ways in which the body has evolved to deal with infectious organisms. You’ll pay particular attention to the function of both B and T lymphocytes and their role in fighting of bacterial and viral infections. You’ll also have the chance to study some selected infectious agents including a range of bacteria, viruses, prions, protozoa and parasites, looking at the ways that these organisms have evolved to overcome detection by the immune system. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Biochemistry 3

The module starts with an overview of the different forms of enzyme inhibition with particular reference to their use as antimetabolites and drugs. The higher levels of organisation and evolution of enzymes are then illustrated by a study of complex protein structures such as multienzyme complexes and polypeptides. Enzyme mechanisms will be scrutinised with respect to protein structure and the role of coenzymes and prosthetic groups in catalysis will be described. Allosteric and covalent regulation of enzymes is then covered, including the physiological significance of these mechanisms in the control of metabolic pathways. The consequences of the genetic deficiency of enzymes and cofactor deficits will then be discussed. The application of enzyme measurements in clinical diagnosis will then be covered. The module will end with a description of the role enzymes play in xenobiotic and drug metabolism including the toxicological and pharmacological significance of their action. Problem based tutorials and lab practicals will be used to illustrate key aspects of the lecture course and to develop problem solving skills.

Important information

We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.

We review all optional modules each year and change them to reflect the expertise of our staff, current trends in research and as a result of student feedback. We will always ensure that you have a range of options to choose from and we will let students know in good time the options available for them to choose for the following year.

We will only change core modules for a course if it is necessary for us to do so, for example to maintain course accreditation. We will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before you begin the relevant academic year.

Sometimes we have to make changes to other aspects of a course or how it is delivered. We only make these changes if they are for reasons outside of our control, or where they are for our students’ benefit. Again, we will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before the relevant academic year. Our regulations set out our procedure which we will follow when we need to make any such changes.

When you enrol as a student of the University, your study and time with us will be governed by a framework of regulations, policies and procedures, which form the basis of your agreement with us. These include regulations regarding the assessment of your course, academic integrity, your conduct (including attendance) and disciplinary procedure, fees and finance and compliance with visa requirements (where relevant). It is important that you familiarise yourself with these as you will be asked to agree to abide by them when you join us as a student. You will find a guide to the key terms here, where you will also find links to the full text of each of the regulations, policies and procedures referred to.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.


The optional placement year (48 weeks) offers you the opportunity to apply what you have learned in Years 1 and 2 to the workplace. This can help you to relate theory to practice and develop skills in a real-world environment.

Biological Sciences students have undertaken placements within the pharmaceutical sector as well as in hospitals and schools.

Recently students from Biological Sciences have completed placements with Bradford University, University of Leeds, Prince Charles Hospital and Protein Technologies Ltd.

We encourage you to gain this real-world experience as it may help to enhance your employability after graduation. We also provide guidance and support to help you secure a placement.

Career opportunities

100% of graduates from this course go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating.

Previous graduates from this course have gone on to roles such as Researcher, Scientist and DNA Sequencing Scientist in organisations including GlaxoSmithKline, The Dow Chemical Company and Rosemount Pharmaceuticals.*

*Source: LinkedIn

Professional links and accreditations

As a student on the course you'll be eligible for student undergraduate Associate Membership of the Biochemical Society and The Physiological Society (UK).

Teaching and assessment

35.3% of the study time on this course is spent in lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions etc.

You will be taught through a series of lectures, tutorials and laboratory work. Assessment will include written exams, multiple choice questions, oral presentations and assessment of laboratory skills. The final year research project contributes to your degree classification.

Your module specification/course handbook will provide full details of the assessment criteria applying to your course.

Feedback (usually written) is normally provided on all coursework submissions within three term time weeks – unless the submission was made towards the end of the session in which case feedback would be available on request after the formal publication of results.Feedback on exam performance/final coursework is available on request after the publication of results.

Huddersfield is the UK's only university where 100% of the permanent teaching staff are fellows of the Higher Education Academy.*

*permanent staff, after probation: some recently appointed colleagues will only obtain recognition in the months after their arrival in Huddersfield, once they have started teaching

How much will it cost me?

In 2017/18, the tuition fee for UK and EU students at the University of Huddersfield will be £9,250.

Tuition fees will cover the cost of your study at the University as well as charges for registration, tuition, supervision and examinations. For more information about funding, fees and finance for UK/EU students, including what your tuition fee covers, please see Fees and Finance. Please note that tuition fees for subsequent years of study may rise in line with inflation (RPI-X).

If you are an international student coming to study at the University of Huddersfield, please visit the International Fees and Finance pages for full details of tuition fees and support available.

Please email the Student Finance Office or call 01484 472210 for more information about fees and finance.

Course scholarships available – up to £3000. More details.

Further study

Progression to a postgraduate course is dependent on successful completion of your undergraduate studies. There may also be minimum qualification requirements such as a first class or higher second (2.1) degree. Please check the course details to confirm this.

Upon successful completion of your undergraduate studies, you may also be interested in training to become a secondary school teacher by taking a PGCE. Look at further details and entry requirements for Science with Biology.


If you're an international student (including EU) you can check if you meet our entry requirements (both academic and English language) by visiting our country pages.

If you do not meet the entry requirements you can consider completing a degree preparation programme (if you are from a country outside of the EU) at the University's International Study Centre (ISC). You can call the ISC on +44 (0) 1273 339333 to discuss your options. You can also complete the online application form or to ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers.

If your English language is not at the required level (IELTS 6.0 overall), we have a range of Pre-Sessional English programmes that you can enrol on before starting your degree course. You will not need to take an IELTS test after completing one of our Pre-Sessional English programmes.

How to apply

Research community

Research plays an important role in informing all our teaching and learning activities. Through research our staff remain up-to-date with the latest developments in their field, which means you develop knowledge and skills that are current and highly relevant to industry. For more information, see the Research section of our website.

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