Yearbooks

Programme: BSc Biotechnology

Code Faculty Duration Credits Download
02133403 Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences Minimum duration of study: 3 years Total credits: 428

Admission requirements

  • The following persons will be considered for admission: a candidate who is in possession of a certificate that is deemed by the University to be equivalent to the required Grade 12 certificate with university endorsement, a candidate who is a graduate from another tertiary institution or has been granted the status of a graduate of such an institution, and a candidate who is a graduate of another faculty at the University of Pretoria.
  • Life Orientation is excluded in the calculation of the Admission Point Score (APS).
  • Grade 11 results are used for the conditional admission of prospective students. Final admission is based on the Grade 12 results.

Minimum requirements

Achievement level

English Home Language or English First Additional Language

Mathematics

Physical Science 

APS

NSC/IEB

AS Level

NSC/IEB

AS Level

NSC/IEB

AS Level

5

C

5

C

5

C

30

*  Cambridge A level candidates who obtained at least a D in the required subjects, will be considered for admission. International Baccalaureate (IB) HL candidates who obtained at least a 4 in the required subjects, will be considered for admission.

Candidates who do not comply with the minimum admission requirements for BSc (Biotechnology), may be considered for admission to the BSc – Extended programme for the Biological and Agricultural Sciences. The BSc – Extended programme takes place over a period of four years instead of the normal three years.

BSc Extended Programme for the Biological and Agricultural Sciences

 Minimum requirements

Achievement level

English Home Language or English First Additional Language

Mathematics

Physical Science  

APS

NSC/IEB

AS Level

NSC/IEB

AS Level

NSC/IEB

AS Level

4

D

4

D

4

D

24

 

Other programme-specific information

A student must pass all the minimum prescribed and elective module credits as set out at the end of each year within a programme as well as the total required credits to comply with the particular degree programme. Please refer to the curricula of the respective programmes. At least 144 credits must be obtained at 300-/400-level, or otherwise as indicated by curriculum. The minimum module credits needed to comply with degree requirements is set out at the end of each study programme. Subject to the programmes as indicated a maximum of 150 credits will be recognised at 100-level. A student may, in consultation with the relevant head of department and subject to the permission by the Dean, select or replace prescribed module credits not indicated in BSc three-year study programmes to the equivalent of a maximum of 36 module credits.

It is important that the total number of prescribed module credits is completed during the course of the study programme. The Dean may, on the recommendation of the relevant head of department, approve deviations in this regard. Subject to the programmes as indicated in the respective curricula, a student may not register for more than 75 module credits per semester at first-year level subject to permission by the Dean. A student may be permitted to register for up to 80 module credits in a the first semester during the first year provided that he or she obtained a final mark of no less than 70% for grade 12 Mathematics and achieved an APS of 34 or more in the NSC.

Students who are already in possession of a bachelor’s degree, will not receive credit for modules of which the content overlap with modules from the degree that was already conferred. Credits will not be considered for more than half the credits passed previously for an uncompleted degree. No credits at the final-year or 300- and 400-level will be granted.

The Dean may, on the recommendation of the programme manager, approve deviations with regard to the composition of the study programme.

Please note: Where elective modules are not specified, these may be chosen from any modules appearing in the list of modules.

It remains the student’s responsibility to acertain, prior to registration, whether they comply with the prerequisites of the modules they want to register for.

The prerequisites are listed in the Alphabetical list of modules.

Promotion to next study year

A student will be promoted to the following year of study if he or she passed 100 credits of the prescribed credits for a year of study, unless the Dean on the recommendation of the relevant head of department decides otherwise. A student who does not comply with the requirements for promotion to the following year of study, retains the credit for the modules already passed and may be admitted by the Dean, on recommendation of the relevant head of department, to modules of the following year of study to a maximum of 48 credits, provided that it will fit in with both the lecture and examination timetable.

General promotion requirements in the faculty
All students whose academic progress is not acceptable can be suspended from further studies.

  • A student who is excluded from further studies in terms of the stipulations of the abovementioned regulations, will be notified in writing by the Dean or Admissions Committee at the end of the relevant semester.
  • A student who has been excluded from further studies may apply in writing to the Admissions Committee of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences for re-admission.
  • Should the student be re-admitted by the Admissions Committee, strict conditions will be set which the student must comply with in order to proceed with his/her studies.
  • Should the student not be re-admitted to further studies by the Admissions Committee, he/she will be informed in writing.
  • Students who are not re-admitted by the Admissions Committee have the right to appeal to the Senior Appeals Committee.
  • Any decision taken by the Senior Appeals Committee is final.

Pass with distinction

A student obtains his or her degree with distinction if all prescribed modules at 300-level (or higher) are passed in one academic year with a weighted average of at least 75%, and obtain at least a subminimum of 65% in each of the relevant modules.

Minimum credits: 140

Minimum credits: 140
Fundamental =   12
Core              =   128

Additional information: Students who do not qualify for AIM 102 must register for AIM 111 and AIM 121.

Fundamental modules

Core modules

  • Module content:

    Simple statistical analysis: Data collection and analysis: Samples, tabulation, graphical representation, describing location, spread and skewness. Introductory probability and distribution theory. Sampling distributions and the central limit theorem. Statistical inference: Basic principles, estimation and testing in the one- and two-sample cases (parametric and non-parametric). Introduction to experimental design. One- and twoway designs, randomised blocks. Multiple statistical analysis: Bivariate data sets: Curve fitting (linear and non-linear), growth curves. Statistical inference in the simple regression case. Categorical analysis: Testing goodness of fit and contingency tables. Multiple regression and correlation: Fitting and testing of models. Residual analysis. Computer literacy: Use of computer packages in data analysis and report writing.

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  • Module content:

    Basic plant structure and function; introductory plant taxonomy and plant systematics; principles of plant molecular biology and biotechnology; adaptation of plants to stress; medicinal compounds from plants; basic principles of plant ecology and their application in natural resource management.

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  • Module content:

    General introduction to inorganic, analytical and physical chemistry. Atomic structure and periodicity. Molecular structure and chemical bonding using the VSEOR model. Nomenclature of inorganic ions and compounds. Classification of reactions: precipitation, acid-base, redox reactions and gas-forming reactions. Mole concept and stoichiometric calculations concerning chemical formulas and chemical reactions. Principles of reactivity: energy and chemical reactions. Physical behaviour gases, liquids, solids and solutions and the role of intermolecular forces. Rate of reactions: Introduction to chemical kinetics.

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  • Module content:

    Theory: General physical-analytical chemistry: Chemical equilibrium, acids and bases, buffers, solubility equilibrium, entropy and free energy, electrochemistry. Organic chemistry: Structure (bonding), nomenclature, isomerism, introductory stereochemistry, introduction to chemical reactions and chemical properties of organic compounds and biological compounds, i.e. carbohydrates and aminoacids. Practical: Molecular structure (model building), synthesis and properties of simple organic compounds.

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  • Module content:

    Chromosomes and cell division. Principles of Mendelian inheritance: locus and alleles, dominance interactions, extensions and modifications of basic principles.. Probability studies. Sex determination and sex linked traits. Pedigree analysis. Genetic linkage and chromosome mapping. Chromosome variation.

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  • Module content:

    The module will introduce the student to the field of Microbiology. Basic Microbiological aspects that will be covered include introduction into the diversity of the microbial world (bacteria, archaea, eukaryotic microorganisms and viruses), basic principles of cell structure and function, microbial nutrition and microbial growth and growth control. Applications in Microbiology will be illustrated by specific examples i.e. bioremediation, animal-microbial symbiosis, plant-microbial symbiosis and the use of microorganisms in industrial microbiology. Wastewater treatment, microbial diseases and food will be introduced using specific examples.

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  • Module content:

     Introduction to the molecular structure and function of the cell. Basic chemistry of the cell. Structure and composition of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Ultrastructure and function of cellular organelles, membranes and the cytoskeleton. General principles of energy, enzymes and cell metabolism. Selected processes, e.g. glycolysis, respiration and/or photosynthesis. Introduction to molecular genetics: DNA structure and replication, transcription, translation. Cell growth and cell division.

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  • Module content:

    Units, vectors, one dimensional kinematics, dynamics, work, equilibrium, sound, liquids, heat, thermodynamic processes, electric potential and capacitance, direct current and alternating current, optics, modern physics, radio activity.

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  • Module content:

    *Students will not be credited for more than one of the following modules for their degree: WTW 134, WTW 165, WTW 114, WTW 158. WTW 134 does not lead to admission to Mathematics at 200 level and is intended for students who require Mathematics at 100 level only. WTW 134 is offered as WTW 165 in the second semester only to students who have applied in the first semester of the current year for the approximately 65 MBChB, or the 5-6 BChD places becoming available in the second semester and who were therefore enrolled for MGW 112 in the first semester of the current year. 
    Functions, derivatives, interpretation of the derivative, rules of differentiation, applications of differentiation, integration, interpretation of the definite integral, applications of integration. Matrices, solutions of systems of equations. All topics are studied in the context of applications.

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  • Module content:

    *Students will not be credited for more than one of the following modules for their degree: WTW 134, WTW 165, WTW 114, WTW 158. WTW 165 does not lead to Mathematics at 200 level and is intended for students who require Mathematics at 100 level only. WTW 165 is offered in English in the second semester only to students who have applied in the first semester of the current year for the approximately 65 MBChB, or the 5-6 BChD places becoming available in the second semester and who were therefore enrolled for MGW 112 in the first semester of the current year.

    Functions, derivatives, interpretation of the derivative, rules of differentiation, applications of differentiation, integration, interpretation of the definite integral, applications of integration, matrices, solutions of systems of equations. All topics are studied in the context of applications.

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  • Module content:

    Animal classification, phylogeny, organization and terminology. Evolution of the various animal phyla, morphological characteristics and life cycles of parasitic and non-parasitic animals. Structure and function of reproductive, respiratory, excretory, circulatory and digestive systems.

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Minimum credits: 144

Minimum credits: 144
Core             =  108
Elective         =   36

Additional information:
Electives may be chosen from BCM 262, BME 210, DAF 200, FST 250, GKD 250, MBY 262, PLG 251, PLG 262, PPK 251, ZEN 251, ZEN 261 or other module/s subject to permission from the HOD.

Please note:

  • Students who want to focus their degree in Biochemistry must take BCM 262.
  • Students who want to focus their degree in Microbiology must take MBY 262.

Core modules

  • Module content:

    Structural and ionic properties of amino acids. Peptides, the peptide bond, primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins. Interactions that stabilise protein structure, denaturation and renaturation of proteins. Introduction to methods for the purification of proteins, amino acid composition, and sequence determinations. Enzyme kinetics and enzyme inhibition. Allosteric enzymes, regulation of enzyme activity, active centres and mechanisms of enzyme catalysis. Examples of industrial applications of enzymes and in clinical pathology as biomarkers of diseases. Introduction to practical laboratory techniques and Good Laboratory Practice. Techniques for the quantitative and qualitative analysis of biological molecules, enzyme activity measurements . Processing and presentation of scientific data.

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  • Module content:

    Carbohydrate structure and function. Blood glucose measurement in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. Bioenergetics and biochemical reaction types. Glycolysis,  gluconeogenesis, glycogen metabolism, pentose phosphate pathway, citric acid cycle and electron transport. Total ATP yield from the complete oxidation of glucose. A comparison of cellular respiration and photosynthesis. Practical techniques for the study and analysis of metabolic pathways and enzymes. PO ratio of mitochondria, electrophoresis, extraction, solubility and gel permeation techniques. Scientific method and design. 

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  • Module content:

    Biochemistry of lipids, membrane structure, anabolism and catabolism of lipids.  Total ATP yield from the complete catabolism of lipids. Nitrogen metabolism, amino acid biosynthesis and catabolism. Biosynthesis of neurotransmitters, pigments, hormones and nucleotides from amino acids. Catabolism of pureness and pyrimidines. Therapeutic agents directed against nucleotide metabolism. Examples of inborn errors of metabolism of nitrogen containing compounds. The urea cycle, nitrogen excretion. Practical training in scientific reading skills: evaluation of a scientific report. Techniques for separation analysis and visualisation of biological molecules. Hypothesis design and testing, method design and scientific controls.

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  • Module content:

    Origin and affinity of South African flora and vegetation types; principles of plant geography; plant diversity in southern Africa; characteristics, environments and vegetation of South African biomes and associated key ecological processes; centra of plant endemism; rare and threatened plant species; biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management; invasion biology; conservation status of South African vegetation types.

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  • Module content:

    Nitrogen metabolism in plants; nitrogen fixation in Agriculture; plant secondary metabolism and natural products; photosynthesis and carbohydrate metabolism in plants; applications in solar energy; plant growth regulation and the Green Revolution; plant responses to the environment; developing drought tolerant and disease resistant plants.

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  • Module content:

    The chemical nature of DNA. The processes of DNA replication, transcription, RNA processing, translation. Control of gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.  Recombinant DNA technology and its applications in gene analysis and manipulation.

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  • Module content:

    Chromosome structure and transposable elements. Mutation and DNA repair. Genomics and proteomics. Organelle genomes. Introduction to genetic analysis of populations: allele and genotypic frequencies, Hardy Weinberg Law, its extensions and implications for different mating systems. Introduction to quantitative and evolutionary genetics.

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  • Module content:

    Growth, replication and survival of bacteria, Energy sources, harvesting from light versus oxidation, regulation of catabolic pathways, chemotaxis. Nitrogen metabolism, iron-scavenging. Alternative electron acceptors: denitrification, sulphate reduction, methanogenesis.  Bacterial evolution, systematic and genomics. Biodiversity; bacteria occurring in the natural environment (soil, water and air), associated with humans, animals, plants, and those of importance in foods and in the water industry.

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  • Module content:

    Organisation and molecular architecture of fungal thalli, chemistry of the fungal cell. Chemical and physiological requirements for growth and nutrient acquisition. Mating and meiosis; spore development; spore dormancy, dispersal and germination. Fungi as saprobes in soil, air, plant, aquatic and marine ecosystems; role of fungi as decomposers and in the deterioration of materials; fungi as predators and parasites; mycoses, mycetisms and mycotoxicoses; fungi as symbionts of plants, insects and animals. Applications of fungi in biotechnology.

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Elective modules

  • Module content:

    Biochemistry of nutrition and toxicology. Proximate analysis of nutrients. Review of energy requirements and expenditure, starvation, marasmus and kwashiorkor. Respiratory quotient. Requirements and function of water, vitamins and minerals. Interpretation and modification of RDA values for specific diets, eg growth, exercise, pregnancy and lactation, aging and starvation. Interactions between nutrients. Cholesterol, polyunsaturated, essential fatty acids and dietary anti-oxidants. Oxidation of fats. Biochemical mechanisms of water- and fat-soluble vitamins and assessment of vitamin status. Mineral requirements, biochemical mechanisms, imbalances and diarrhoea. Biochemistry of xenobiotics: absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME); detoxification reactions: oxidation/reduction (Phase I), conjugations (Phase II), export from cells (Phase III); factors affecting metabolism and disposition. Examples of genetic abnormalities, phenotypes and frequencies. Examples of toxins: biochemical mechanisms of common toxins and their antidotes. Natural toxins from fungi, plants and animals: goitrogens, cyanogens, cholineesterase inhibitors, ergotoxin, aflatoxins  Practical training in scientific writing skills: evaluating  scientific findings. Introduction to practical techniques in nutrition and toxicology. Experimental design and calculations in experiments: determining nutritional value of metabolites and studying the ADME of toxins.

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  • Module content:

    Analysis of variance: Multi-way classification. Testing of model assumptions, graphics. Multiple comparisons. Fixed, stochastic and mixed effect models. Block experiments. Estimation of effects. Experimental design: Principles of experimental design. Factorial experiments: Confounding, single degree of freedom approach, hierarchical classification. Balanced and unbalanced designs. Split-plot designs. Analysis of covariance. Computer literacy: Writing and interpretation of computer programmes. Report writing.

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  • Module content:

    The body cavities, the origin of trunk wall and the principle arrangement of other anatomical structures as explained by the basic embryological development of mammals. Introduction to anatomy and anatomical terminology. Introduction to basic histology of cells, epithelial tissue and connective tissue. Basic anatomy of tissues, organs, systems and joints. Anatomy of the musculo-skeletal system integrated, the histology of connective tissue and muscles. The anatomy and histology of the integument and skin structures, the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, endocrine, urogenital and digestive systems all of which serves as basis for the physiology component of the module. General species differences of the anatomy and histology where applicable.

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  • Module content:

    Lectures: Food Science as a discipline. Activities of Food Scientists and Nutritionists. How food is produced, processed and distributed (food pipeline). World food problem. Human nutrition and human food requirements. Constituents of foods: Functional properties. Food quality. Food deterioration and control (food preservation). Unit operations in food processing. Food safety, risks and hazards. Principles of food packaging. Food legislation and labelling. Food processing and the environment. Practicals: Group assignments applying the theory in practice; practical demonstrations in pilot plants; guest lecturers on the world of food scientists and nutritionists; factory visit/videos of food processing.

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  • Module content:

    Origin and development of soil, weathering and soil formation processes. Profile differentiation and morphology. Physical characteristics: texture, structure, soil water, atmosphere and temperature. Chemical characteristics: clay minerals, ion exchange, pH, buffer action, soil acidification and salinisation of soil. Soil fertility and fertilisation. Soil classification. Practical work: Laboratory evaluation of simple soil characteristics. Field practicals on soil formation in the Pretoria area.

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  • Module content:

    Primary sources of migroorganisims in food. Factors affecting the growth and survival of microorganisms in food. Microbial quality, spoilage and safety of food. Different organisms involved, their isolation, screening and detection. Conventional approaches, alternative methods rapid methods. Food fermentations: fermentation types, principles and organisms involved.

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  • Module content:

    Development and importance of crop protection. Basic principles in crop protection i.e. epidemic development of disease and insect pest populations, ecology of plant diseases and abiotic factors that affect plant health i.e. environmental pollution and pesticides, nutrient deficiencies and extreme environmental conditions. Ecological aspects of plant diseases, pest outbreaks and weed invasion. Important agricultural pests and weeds. Life cycles of typical disease causing organisms. Basic principles of integrated pest and disease management.

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  • Module content:

    Fundamental principles of plant pathology. The concept of disease in plants. Causes of plant diseases. Stages in development of plant diseases. Disease cycles. Diagnosis of plant diseases.

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  • Module content:

    Influence of climate on cropping systems in South Africa. The surface energy balance. Hydrological cycles and the soil water balance. Sustainable crop production. Simple radiation and water limited models. Potential yield, target yield and maximum economic yield. Crop nutrition and fertiliser management. Principles of soil cultivation and conservation. Climate change and crop production – mitigation and adaptation.

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  • Module content:

    Origin and extent of modern invertebrate diversity; parasites of man and domestic animals; biology and medical importance of arachnids; insect life styles; the influence of the environment on insect life histories; insect phytophagy, predation and parasitism; insect chemical, visual, and auditory communication; freshwater invertebrates and their use as biological indicators.

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  • Module content:

    Introduction to general vertebrate diversity; African vertebrate diversity; vertebrate structure and function; vertebrate evolution; vertebrate relationships; aquatic vertebrates; terrestrial ectotherms; terrestrial endotherms; vertebrate characteristics; classification; structural adaptations; habits; habitats; conservation problems; impact of humans on other vertebrates.

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Minimum credits: 144

Minimum Credits: 144
Core      = 54
Elective = 90

To focus your degree in Biochemistry:

  • Students must take BCM 357, BCM 367, BCM 368. 
  • The balance of the electives (36 credits) must be chosen from BOT 365, GTS 354, GTS 367, GTS 368, MBY 351, MBY 355, MBY 365.

To focus your degree in Genetics:

  • Students interested in the PLANT GENETICS option must take GTS 354, BTC361, GTS367.
  • The balance of the electives (36 credits) must be chosen from BCM367, BOT 356, BOT 358, BOT 365, PLG 351, PLG 363.
  • Students interested in the HUMAN / ANIMAL GENETICS option must take GTS 354, GTS 367, GTS368.
  • The balance of the electives (36 credits) must be chosen from BCM 357, BCM 367, BCM 368, MBY 351, MBY 355, MBY 365.

To focus your degree in Microbiology:

  • Students must take MBY 351, MBY 355, MBY 365. 
  • The balance of the electives (36 credits) must be chosen from BCM 367, BCM 368, BOT 365, BTC 361, GTS 367.

To focus your degree in Plant Science:

  • Students must take BTC 361, BOT 365. 
  • The balance of the electives (54 credits) must be chosen from BCM 367, BOT 356, BOT 358, BOT 366, GTS 354, GTS 367, MBY 351, MBY 365, PLG 363.

Core modules

  • Module content:

    Structure, function, bioinformatics and biochemical analyses of nucleotides, oligonucleotides, amino acids, proteins and ligands and their organisation into hierarchial, higher order structures and interdependent systems. Principles of structure-function relationships. Protein folding, sequence motifs and domains, higher order and supramolecular structure, self-assembly, conjugated proteins, post-translational modifications. Principles of molecular recognition in protein-ligand, protein-protein, protein-DNA, protein-RNA, DNA-DNA, DNA-ligand, DNA-RNA and RNA-RNA interactions. The RNA structural world, RNAi, miRNA and ribosomes. Cellular functions of coding and non-coding nucleic acids. Population-specific mutations in disease. Global analysis of proteins through proteomics. Basic principles of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and X-ray crystallography. Protein purification and characterization including, pI, molecular mass, amino acid composition and sequence. Mechanistic aspects and regulation of information flow from DNA via RNA to proteins and back. Lectures incorporate the latest insights into the central dogma of biochemistry and viral polymerases which reverse the information flow ensuring students are prepared for a competitive job market. Practical training include hands-on practical sessions for nucleic acid purification, sequencing and structure characterisation, protein production purification (including SDS-PAGE) and sequence analysis including mass spectrometry, protein structure analysis by 3D protein modelling and protein folding (Bioinformatics).

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  • Module content:

    Regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes: regulation at the genome, transcription, RNA processing and translation levels. DNA elements and protein factors involved in gene control. The role of chromatin structure and epigenetic changes. Technology and experimental approaches used in studying eukaryotic gene control. Applications of the principles of gene control in eg cell signaling pathways, development cancer and other diseases in humans.

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  • Module content:

    Isolation of clonable DNA (genomic libraries, cDNA synthesis) cloning vectors (plasmids, bacteriophages, cosmids) plasmid incompatibility and control of copy number. Ligation of DNA fragments, modification of DNA end and different ligation strategies. Direct and indirect methods for the identification of recombinant organisms. Characterization (polymerase chain reaction, nucleic acid sequencing) and mutagenisis of cloned DNA fragments. Gene expression in Gram negative (E.coli) Gram positive (B.subtilis) and yeast cells (S.cerevisea). Use of Agrobacterium and baculoviruses for gene expression in plant and insect cells respectively. Applications in protein engineering, diagnostics and synthesis of useful products.

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Elective modules

  • Module content:

    Enzyme nomenclature and classification. Specificity and mechanisms: the active site, mechanisms of catalysis and examples of specific enzyme mechanisms, e.g. lysozyme and carboxypeptidase A. Advanced enzyme kinetics, Cleland nomenclature and multi-substrate reactions. Allosteric enzymes: models by Koshland, Hill and Monod. Ligands binding to proteins. Inhibitors of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). RNA as enzymes. Applications of enzymes in food and cosmetics industries and in clinical pathology assays as biomarkers of diseases and toxic responses. Elucidation of metabolic pathways. Antibiotic resistance mechanisms and development of new drugs. Hormonal regulation and integration of mammalian metabolism. Regulation of fuel metabolism after a meal, period between meals and starvation. Metabolic adaptions during diabetes. Obesity and the regulation of body mass. Obesity, matabolic syndrom and Type 2 diabetes (T2D). Management of T2D with diet, exercise and medication. Practical sessions cover tutorials on calculations, isolation of an enzyme, determination of pH and temperature optimum, determination of Km and Vmax, enzyme activation and enzyme inhibition. Computer simulations of drug design and protein docking to improve efficacy and lower toxicity.

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  • Module content:

    Visualising cell structure and localising proteins within cells. Cell ultrastructure. Purification of subcellular organelles. Culturing of cells. Biomembrane structure. Transmembrane transport of ions and small molecules and the role of these processes in disease. Moving proteins into membranes and organelles. Vesicular traffic, secretion, exocytosis and endocytosis. Cell organisation and movement motility based on the three types of cytoskeletal structures including microfilaments, microtubules and intermediate filaments as well as their associated motor proteins. Cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion through corresponding proteins and morphological structures. Practical training includes tutorials on cytometry and mircoscopy, mini-research projects where students are introduced and guided through aspects of research methodology, experimental planning techniques associated with cellular assays, buffer preparation, active transport studies in yeast cells, structure-function analyses of actin and binding partners.

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  • Module content:

    Molecular mechanisms behind exogenous and endogenous diseases. Foundational knowledge of the immune system, with innate-, adaptive- and auto-immunity (molecular mechanisms of the maintenance and failure of the recognition of foreign in the context of self in the mammalian body) being some of the key concepts. Molecular pathology and immunobiochemistry of exogenous diseases against viral, bacterial and parasitic pathogens with a focus on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB) and malaria. Endogenous disease will describe the biochemistry of normal cell cycle proliferation, quiescence, senescence, differentiation and apoptosis, and abnormal events as illustrated by cancer. Tutorials will focus on immunoassays, vaccines, diagnostic tests for diseases and drug discovery towards therapeuticals. 

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  • Module content:

    The emphasis is on the efficiency of the mechanisms whereby C3-, C4 and CAM-plants bind CO2 and how it impacted upon by environmental factors. The mechanisms and factors which determine the respiratory conversion of carbon skeletons and how production is affected thereby will be discussed. Insight into the ecological distribution and manipulation of plants for increased production is gained by discussing the internal mechanisms whereby carbon allocation, hormone production, growth, flowering and fruitset are influenced by external factors. To understand the functioning of plants in diverse environments, the relevant structural properties of plants, and the impact of soil composition, water flow in the soil-plant air continuum and long distance transport of assimilates will be discussed.  Various important techniques will be used in the practicals to investigate aspects such as water-use efficiency, photosynthesis and respiration of plants.

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  • Module content:

     Theory of plant community concepts, floristic and structural composition, plant diversity, ecological succession, landscape ecology. Data processing techniques. Species interactions and an evaluation of their effects on interacting species. Fundamentals of plant population biology: life tables; plant breeding systems and pollination; population dynamics; life history strategies; intraspecific competition; interspecific competition and co-existence.

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  • Module content:

    The module will include a review on the discovery and use of plant medicines and phyto-therapeutically important molecules obtained from plants. Certain aspects of natural product chemistry i.e. the biosynthesis, ecological role and toxicity of the three main classes of secondary compounds; terpenoids, phenolics, and alkaloids are discussed. An introduction to the principles and applications of metabolomics is presented. The role of these natural products in defense against microorganisms and herbivores is reviewed during the module. The importance of ethnobotany and phylogenetics in modern drug discovery from biodiversity will presented along with legal and ethical considerations surrounding bioprospecting. This will follow on with modern theories and practices regarding sustainable utilisation and conservation of medicinal plants. The basics of alternative medicines, with an emphasis on traditional African and Chinese medicines, are also discussed as well as current evidence-based research and product development derived from these. Biotechnological approaches to medicinal natural product production, ‘farmer to pharma’, will be covered, including plant cell culture and bioreactors. Practical sessions on drug discovery approaches using chromatographic techniques for phytochemical analysis of secondary metabolites such as tannins, alkaloids, and saponins are conducted. Bioassays on micro-organisms are also done during the practical sessions in order to develop the skills for the potential discovery of new antibiotics.

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  • Module content:

    Basic principles and methods of plant classification. Sources of plant variation. Modern methods to ascertain evolutionary relationships among plants. The extent and significance of vascular plant diversity. General structural and biological characteristics of evolutionary and ecologically important plant groups. Botanical nomenclature. Plant identification in practice; identification methods, keys, herbaria and botanical gardens. Diagnostic characters for the field identification of trees, wild flowers and grasses. Family recognition of southern African plants. Available literature for plant identification. Methods to conduct floristic surveys. Nature and significance of voucher specimens.

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  • Module content:

    Plant genetics and genomics: gene control in plants, epigenetics, co-suppression, forward and reverse genetics, structural and functional genomics. Plant development: flowering, genetics imprinting. Plant-environment interactions. Crop genetic modification: food security, GMO regulation, plant transformation, whole-chromosome transformation, synthetic biology, homologous recombination. Crop molecular markers: marker types, genotyping, QTL mapping, marker-assisted breeding. Future of crop biotechnology: applications of genomics, biopharming, genetical genomics, systems biology

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  • Module content:

    Mechanisms involved in the evolution of genes, genomes and phenotypes. Comparison  of the molecular organisation of viral, archaea, bacterial and eukaryotic genomes. Genome project design, DNA sequencing methods and annotation. Molecular evolution. Phylogenetic inference. Applications of phylogenetics and evolutionary genomics research, including relevance to sustainable development goals for food security, good health and the biosphere.

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  • Module content:

    Genetic and phenotypic variation. Organisation of genetic variation. Random genetic drift. Mutation and the neutral theory. Darwinian selection. Inbreeding, population subdivision and migration. Evolutionary quantitative genetics. Population genomics. Human population genetics. Levels of selection and individuality. Arms races and irreversibility. Complexity. Applied evolution.

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  • Module content:

    Application of modern genetics to human variability, health and disease. Molecular origin of Mendelian and multifactorial diseases. The use of polymorphisms, gene mapping, linkage and association studies in medical genetics. Genetic diagnosis: application of cytogenetic, molecular and genomic techniques. Congenital abnormalities, risk assessment and genetic consultation. Prenatal testing, population screening, treatment of genetic diseases and gene-based therapy. Pharmacogenetics and cancer genetics. Ethical aspects in medical genetics.

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  • Module content:

    Introduction to the viruses as a unique kingdom inclusive of their different hosts, especially bacteria, animals and plants; RNA and DNA viruses; viroids, tumour viruses and oncogenes, mechanisms of replication, transcription and protein synthesis; effect on hosts; viral immunology; evolution of viruses.

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  • Module content:

    DNA replication and replication control. DNA recombination. DNA damage and repair. Genetics of bacteriophages, plasmids and transposons. Bacterial gene expression control at the transcriptional, translational and post-translational levels. Global regulation and compartmentalisation.

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  • Module content:

    Interactions between microbes and their abiotic environment; microbial interaction with other strains of the same and other species; microbial interactions across kingdoms; pathogenic interactions between microbes and plant or animal hosts; mutualistic interactions between microbes and their hosts; introduction to systems biology.

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  • Module content:

    Principles and examples of plant diseases and their socio-economic importance. Current trends in plant pathology such as biosecurity, sanitory and phytosanitary issues of trade. Risk assesment and international food safety standards. The use of global information systems to assess disease spread and impact of global warming. Supply chain analysis, postharvest technology and food trade aspects.

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  • Module content:

    Principles of plant disease control. Non-chemical control including biological control, disease resistance, regulatory measures, cultivation practices, physical methods. Modern chemo-therapy: characteristics, mode of action and application of fungicides, bactericides and nematicides. Principles of integrated disease management.

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