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BIOL123 Cells and Tissues - the Fabric of Life or BIOL125 Human Biology 1 data-versionlabel=2 >

Unit rationale, description and aim

Human genetics is at the forefront of biological and medical breakthroughs, affecting our daily lives and choices. This unit offers a study of the terminology and principles of genetics, including the nature and cause of genetic variation in humans and the examination of patterns of inheritance of genetic traits. The students gain 'hands-on' experience in the modern techniques of DNA analysis, which are then applied to diagnosis and treatment of selected genetic disorders. Genetic counselling is introduced and the principles and ethical issues associated with gene therapy and prenatal diagnosis are analysed. This unit also offers opportunity to demonstrate effective communication of biomedical science knowledge, formulating scientifically reasoned arguments using oral, written and digital modes. This is a science unit contributing to the realization of the university's mission to developing ethical graduates capable of defending an ethical standpoint applying the principles of genetics and human dignity.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe the modes of inheritance and relate them to human variation and genetic disease (GA1, GA5)

LO2 - Identify and explain the types of mutation and its causes (GA5)

LO3 - Acquire skills in genetic analysis techniques and examine the methods of diagnosis of genetic disorders (GA3, GA5)

LO4 - Analyse the principles and applications of gene technology and genetic counselling (GA1, GA3, GA5)

LO5 - Work collaboratively to develop and argue an ethical standpoint on a genetics related issue (GA7)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA3 - Apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession

GA7 - Work both autonomously and collaboratively


Topics will include:

  • nature and cause of genetic variation in humans
  • patterns of inheritance of genetic traits
  • techniques in DNA analysis including cytogenetics, biochemical analysis and recombinant DNA technology
  • application of DNA techniques to genetic disorders
  • genetic counselling
  • principles and ethical issues associated with gene therapy
  • principles and ethical issues associated with prenatal diagnosis

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

A flipped learning strategy with regular online support resources will be used for active student engagement. Pre-recorded lectures will provide content for students to access before scheduled class activities. Discussions, debates and other activities will be used to assess understanding of content and to improve inquiry skills.  

Practical classes will provide opportunities for interactive learning with staff and peers including computer simulations, problem solving and critical analysis of current applications and ethical issues in genetics. There is an 80% attendance requirement for practical classes so that students can acquire the skills in DNA analysis techniques and critical thinking.

Principles of human dignity and spirit of community engagement are instilled through invited guest speakers with real life experience of genetic disorders as patients or support personnel.

The (worksheet assignment and WikiProject) are also part of the learning strategy as teams of students’ research their selected genetic topics.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes empowering students with diverse learning styles in the cohort. The concept quizzes will assess acquisition and understanding of genetic concepts. These will serve as formative assessments for early feedback and as incremental summative assessments for motivation to improve.

The worksheet assignment is intended to stimulate critical thinking and encourage professional communication of personal reflection and understanding of content by students using current topics in genetics. This assessment will help students to demonstrate critical thinking and persuasive communication, while applying ethical perspectives in informed decision making.

The WIKI Group project will provide an opportunity to gain cutting-edge knowledge through independent research and peer support while displaying values consistent with the University’s mission for ethical and social quests.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Concept quizzes (S) for acquisition and understanding of genetic principles to apply in the later assignments and professional lives


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA3, GA5

Written worksheet(s) assignment to develop individual reflection and critical analysis of genetic principles.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA3, GA5, GA7

Wiki Project on genetic disorders (S) 

Self-assessment: to encourage metacognition

Peer assessment: to enhance peer feedback throughout the semester ensuring that all team members contribute

Tutor assessment: to improve academic literacy through a collaborative digital task


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA1, GA3, GA5, GA7

F = formative; S= summative; H = hurdle

Representative texts and references

Cummings, M. R. (2016). Human Heredity. Principles and Issues. 11th edition, Brookes/Cole. CENGAGE Learning.

 King, R. A., Rotter, J. I. and Motulsky (eds) (2002). The Genetic Basis of Common Disease (2nd Ed) New York: Oxford University Press.

 Korf. B. R. (2002). Genetics in medical practice. Genetics in Medicine (2002) 4, 10S–14S; doi:10.1097/00125817-200211001-00003.

 Nussbaum, R.L. McInnes, R.R. Willard, H.F. (2016) Thompson and Thompson Genetics in Medicine. (8th Ed) Elsevier.

 Grossman, S. and Porth, C. (2014) Pathophysiology Concepts of Altered Health States. (9th Ed) Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

 Tobias, E.S. Connor, J.M. and Ferguson-Smith, M.A. (2011) Essential Medical Genetics. (6th Ed.) John Wiley and Sons.

 Turnpenny, P. and Ellard, S. (2012) Emery’s Elements of Medical Genetics (14th Ed.) Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill-Livingstone.

 Watson, J., Baker, T., Bell, S., Gann, A., Levine, M. and Losick, R. (2014). Molecular Biology of the Gene. Pearson: New York.

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