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The University of Southampton

SOES2026 Molecular Tools for Advancing Marine Biology Research

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

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

Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • 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
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Small-team working;
  • Individual report writing;
  • Time management
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the key molecules involved in the fundamental biochemical processes occurring in living cells, including nucleic acid & protein function; gene structure and regulation.
  • Describe aspects of the cellular and sub-cellular processes of marine organisms, including cell apoptosis; damage and decay of cell components; oxidative & anaerobic metabolism.
  • 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.
  • Understand the principles and application of a range of molecular biological experimental research techniques to biological oceanographic studies.
  • Conduct a range of basic molecular biological and biochemical assays on nucleic acids and proteins and appropriately analyse laboratory data.
  • Distinguish between, and use, a range of library information and bioinformatic database services.


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

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.

Independent Study115
Practical classes and workshops11
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Laboratory Assignment  (45 minutes) 5%
Practical assessment  (45 minutes) 35%
Theory examination  (2 hours) 60%

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: SOES1011 Introduction To Functional Marine Biology


To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

SOES1011Introduction to Functional Marine Biology
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