The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonUndergraduate study

SOES2026 Introduction to marine molecular biology

Module Overview

The module aims to provide students with knowledge about fundamental biochemical processes in living cells and organisms and the key molecules, nucleic acids and proteins.

Aims and Objectives


  1. To introduce the basic principles of the molecular physiology and cell biology of marine organisms.
  2. To introduce the methodology and applications of basic molecular biological and biochemical experimental procedures.
  3. To introduce molecular biology as a means of examining ecosystem-wide biological processes.
  4. To establish experimental molecular biology skills and the ability to perform basic work with nucleic acids and proteins.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module you should be able to:

  1. Understand the key molecules involved in the fundamental biochemical processes occurring in living cells, including nucleic acid & protein function; gene structure and regulation.
  2. Describe aspects of the cellular and sub-cellular processes of marine organisms, including cell apoptosis; damage and decay of cell components; oxidative & anaerobic metabolism.
  3. Appreciate these processes at a population and ecosystem-wide level, including the molecular basis of material cycles and primary production such as photosynthesis or chemosynthesis.
  4. Understand the principles and application of a range of molecular biological experimental research techniques to biological oceanographic studies.
  5. Conduct a range of basic molecular biological and biochemical assays on nucleic acids and proteins and appropriately analyse laboratory data.
  6. Distinguish between, and use, a range of library information and bioinformatic database services.

Key Skills Acquired

Generic skills: small-team working; individual report writing; time management

Subject-specific Skills:

  • technical laboratory skills in aspects of molecular biology and the manipulation of nucleic acids and proteins
  • interrogation, analysis and presentation of experimental data
  • library information retrieval and critical analysis of relevant literature
  • bioinformatic data base work and analysis of retrieved data


Molecular biological methods have revolutionised life science research over the last decades. As basic functions are ubiquitous in living cells, molecular biological methods offer unprecedented potential to answer questions in the marine realm, ranging from the function of single enzymes to global-scale implications of material cycles.

Knowledge about the molecular physiology of cells is not only important for an integral interpretation of the physiology of marine organisms, but is also the prerequisite to understand the molecular biological methods taught in the lectures and practicals in the later stage of the unit. In this part, the students will become familiar with an array of widely used research methods that allow the analysis of nucleic acids and proteins. The methods will be explained as part of marine biological case studies that provide examples for their applications and highlight the importance of molecular biological experimentation.

The practical sessions include the extraction and purification of nucleic acids and proteins from marine organisms and their analysis including chromatographic and spectroscopic methods and test of their function. In addition, the students will gather practical experience in the use of computers for molecular biological analysis and data base exploration.

Learning and Teaching

Study time allocation

Contact hours:35
Private study hours:115
Total study time: 150 hours

Teaching and learning methods

Formal Lectures: 22 x 55 minute lectures will provide the fundamental theory and principles of the module. Each lecture systematically covers the main concepts and topics by the use of PowerPoint presentations which are supported by illustrated handout materials and Blackboard. Where relevant, lecturers’ own research experience is brought into the lecture sessions. References to relevant journal articles are provided as essential reading for each lecture.

Practical sessions: Each student is required to attend 2 four-hour experimental classes (summative assessment) and one two-hour experimental (computer) class (formative assessment) to acquire appropriate skills in molecular biology, specifically the biochemistry of nucleic acids and proteins (students split into 2 groups and practical rota works between weeks 7-12 of semester). Each practical is supported by, and integrated with, formal lectures together with an introductory talk, and reflects the lecturer’s research expertise. The practical sequence is supported by an introductory 15 minute written test (summative) on the theoretical background and health & safety aspects of the techniques to be used.

Support: Synopses of lectures and practicals are posted on Blackboard. In laboratory, support is provided by staff and postgraduate Demonstrators. Students will be informed of relevant research seminars and guest speakers.

A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Resources and reading list

Blackboard: Much of the lecture material is summarised at Instructions for accessing this material will be given during the course.


Assessment methods

Theory Examination (60%): A 2 hour written examination comprising 5-6 long answer questions based on the formal lectures and aspects of the practicals incl. bioinformatic practical. Tests Learning Outcomes 1-4 and 6.

Practical Assessment (35%): 1 x 45-minute written (online option) test assessing the theoretical background of marine molecular biology, provides feedback on progress. Tests Learning Outcomes 1-4 and 6.

Laboratory Coursework (5%): Practical Assessment 1x 45 min: Laboratory Coursework Report Evaluation: preparing for the practical courses. Tests Learning Outcomes 1-2 and 4-6.

Linked modules

Pre-requisites and / or co-requisites

A-level in Biological Sciences or SOES1006

Introduction to marine ecologySOES10061


Programmes in which this module is compulsory

Compulsory for students on the programmes listed below.

ProgrammeUCAS CodeProgramme length
BSc Marine Biology with OceanographyF7C13 years
MSci Marine BiologyF7034 years
MSci Marine Biology with study abroad4 years


Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Printing and copyingThe University printing costs are currently: A4 - 5p per side (black and white) or 25p per side (colour) A3 - 10p per side (black and white) or 50p per side (colour) Please note: Paper sizes not recognised by the printing devices will prompt you to select the size and then charge a minimum of 50p per black and white copy and a maximum of £1 per colour copy. You can pay for your printing by using the money loaders or by using print copy payment service by going to Please remember that we are unable to refund any credit that has not been used by the end of your course, so please consider this when topping up your printing/copy account. The University Print Centre also offer a printing and copying service as well as a dissertation/binding service. Current printing and copying costs can be found here. They also provide a large format printing service, e.g. Academic posters.£0.05-1.00

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

FieldworkAccommodation: For compulsory residential field courses accommodation and travel are normally provided. You are usually expected to cover the costs of food and drink, although some courses may include meals. For optional field courses, you may be asked to make a contribution to the travel and/or accommodation costs.
FieldworkInsurances: Although travel insurance is covered by the University high risk items, for example laptops and mobile phones, will require separate personal insurance.
FieldworkTravel: For compulsory residential field courses accommodation and travel are normally provided. You are usually expected to cover the costs of food and drink, although some courses may include meals. For optional field courses, you may be asked to make a contribution to the travel and/or accommodation costs.
EquipmentA ruler, a pair of compasses, set squares, protractor, pencils (including coloured), eraser, calculator and penknife.
EquipmentIT - Data Storage: Students are expected to provide their own data storage device.
EquipmentIT - Hardware: It is advisable that students provide their own laptop or personal computer, although shared facilities are available across the University campus.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Share this module Facebook Google+ Twitter Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.