MSc Genomic Medicine / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Counselling Skills for Genomics

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL67381
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


This is an introductory module which aims to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to communicate genomic information to patients and their families. The module will help participants develop practical skills including a genomic approach to family history taking, communicating complex genomic information, supporting decision-making around test choices, facilitating communication within families and accessing sources of support for patients. Content will be guided by a family systems approach to practice which takes account of the ethical and psychosocial impacts of genomic information.

Teaching will be delivered as blended learning with online sessions before and after a two-day consecutive block of face to face teaching.




The aim of this module is to provide students with the knowledge and skills to communicate with patients and their families around genetic and genomic testing.

Teaching and learning methods

This module will be delivered as blended learning comprising;

Seven online learning sessions (Which include didactic Material, demonstration videos, reflective exercises and self assessment quizzes.

Two day teaching block (15 hours in total) and 9 face to face interactive workshops

Three further online learning sessions

Short case based assignment

1 Hour Exam



Knowledge and understanding

Evaluate the principles and benefits of informed consent in the field of genomic medicine.

Access existing practice guidelines around genetic testing and use them to interpret case studies

Analyse the potential psychosocial impact of genomic test results drawing on the published evidence base of patient and family experiences, and evaluate the strategies professionals can use to provide support

Describe the theoretical framework of family systems theory and evaluate its relevance to practice in supporting families undergoing genomic testing

Intellectual skills

Examine the different purposes of genomic testing in child and adult patients, pregnancies, and healthy individuals.

Demonstrate the usefulness of family history information in assessing genetic risk, genomic results, and family burden

Practical skills

Take a family history relevant to genomic testing.

Facilitate shared decision-making around whether to undergo genetic testing.

Be able to take meaningful consent for genomic testing in the clinical setting, including for the 100,000 Genomes Project

Communicate genomic results in an empathic manner, and explain their predictive value and parameters of uncertainty taking into account the patient’s current concerns, educational background, and learning ability.

Employ strategies to support families to communicate around genomic test results including disseminating information to other relatives at risk.

Identify sources of support for patients including patient support groups and on-line resources.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Apply acquired skills to area of own healthcare practice to deliver effectively and support patient choices in relation to genomic information

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 70%
Written assignment (inc essay) 30%

Feedback methods

Written feedback given.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rhona Macleod Unit coordinator

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