MSc Genomic Medicine / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Disease Modelling and Genome Engineering

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL67672
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit will provide essential and contemporary knowledge on the importance of using model systems to investigate the functional genomics of inherited human diseases. The unit will also review genomic engineering technologies and provide a workshop for the design of CRISPR-Cas9 reagents.

Students will be provided with a number of example engineered models to study human disease and will be able to understand the merits and drawbacks of many of the cell and animal models available to researchers. The ethics of using animal models and the potential of genomic engineering to alter human genomes will also be discussed.

The unit is led and delivered by academics with a wealth of experience in using a wide range of models to study human genetic disease.


  • Provide an understanding of why animal and cellular models are necessary for studying the functional genomics of human disease.
  • Provide an understanding of the different model systems available for studying human disease.
  • Provide an understanding of how to manipulate gene expression in a variety of model systems.
  • Provide an understanding of the genome engineering techniques available, how to design associated reagents, and how to use them.
  • Provide an understanding of the ethical considerations associated with animal models and genome engineering.
  • Be able to use literature and online resources to access information on disease modelling and genomic engineering.
  • Be able to apply knowledge of model systems and genome engineering to critically analyse published data and to design experiments.

Teaching and learning methods

This module will be delivered over a one week period and consists of a series of face to face lectures, interactive seminars, and computer practicals. Lectures are supported with online resources and/or key references.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Use advanced knowledge in how to manipulate the genomic sequence and gene expression of cell and animal models to evaluate models of human disease.
  • Use advanced knowledge in how to manipulate the genomic sequence and gene expression of cells, animals and humans to evaluate therapeutic treatments for inherited human disease.
  • Describe and critically evaluate a range of contemporary genomic technologies to alter the sequence and expression of genes.
  • Debate the ethical arguments about the use of animal models to study human disease and the ethical concerns about being able to alter genomes in vitro and in vivo.

Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate the methods and technologies used to generate model systems of inherited human diseases.
  • Critically evaluate the methods and technologies used to generate therapies employing altered gene expression for the treatment of inherited human diseases.

Practical skills

  • Review and critically analyse the scientific literature relevant to model systems and genomic engineering pertinent to inherited human disease.
  • Present a case from the literature on a model system, or treatment, of an inherited human disease.
  • Use web-based tools to design reagents to alter the expression of genes or genomic sequence.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Analysis of complex data
Group/team working
Collaborative skills through group working
Oral communication
Oral written presentation skills
Problem solving
Problem solving skills
Written communication
Scientific writing

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%
Oral assessment/presentation 40%

Feedback methods

Written Feedback with 15 working days

Recommended reading

The Unit's Blackboard page provides a selection of sources as an introduction to model systems and CRISPR. As many CRISPR overviews are similar it is up to the student to determine which one they prefer. It is not intended that the student reads them all. There are also articles on CRISPR in biotechnology which may be of interest to the Enterprise and Biotechnology students. The 'Gene Drive' folder contains references to accompany Matthew Cobb's lecture on Gene Drives. Much of the content is for interest. The aim is that students should be able to follow the unit with only a limited background of genomic engineering.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Forbes Manson Unit coordinator

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