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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:

  • Describe basic aspects of cellular processes in marine organisms, with particular focus on gene transcription, translation, gene structure and expression, gene regulation in response to environmental parameters, and bioluminescence.
  • Use molecular basis to interpret population and ecosystem-wide level processes.
  • Explain 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.
  • Analyse laboratory data appropriately, organise the results from experiments, and report them effectively to a specific deadline.
  • 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.

Special Features

Career talk: As part of the introductory session, a Southampton Alumnus outlines how molecular biology has shaped his/her career and opened new avenues for career progression. Student Lecture Summaries. Each lecture will be summarised by a volunteering student at the beginning of the next session in form of a Panopto-recorded, 5 min max. Powerpoint presentation. Interactive learning: The teaching of the module will be re-structured following the interactive teaching approach successfully introduced by C. D’Angelo in SOES3053 “Understanding Coral Reefs” (Faculty Teaching Award 2018). In this format, 1h lectures providing theoretical background are paired back-to-back with in-class practicals (1h interactive learning sessions) during which the students work in groups to deepen their learning by putting the theoretical concepts into practise through data analysis, date base work, solving research tasks using online bioinformatic tools, and to analyses research papers. Laboratory Practicals: The theoretical teaching and the in-class practicals are combined with laboratory practicals in which the students expand their skills to master essential molecular biological laboratory techniques. Together with the in-class practicals, the laboratory practicals make this module highly hands-on and interactive (12 h theoretical lectures vs 24 h practicals / interactive learning). Research-led teaching: The module has a strong focus on research-led teaching and the scientific findings of the teachers involved in the delivery of the module are a central feature in the majority of sessions.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal Lectures: 12 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 and Panopto. Where relevant, lecturers’ own research experience is brought into the lecture sessions. References to relevant journal articles are provided as essential reading. Lectures: The lectures providing theoretical background are paired back-to-back with in-class practicals (10x55 min interactive learning sessions) during which the students work in groups to deepen their learning by putting the theoretical concepts into practise through data analysis, date base work, solving research tasks using online bioinformatic tools, and to analyses research papers. Practical sessions: Each student is required to attend experimental classes, (i) 2x one-hour (ii) 2x two-hours (iii) 3x three-hours and (iv) 1x four-hours, to acquire appropriate skills in molecular biology, specifically the biochemistry of nucleic acids and proteins (students split into small groups. 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 a laboratory report on the theoretical background, experimental results and health & safety aspects of the relevant practicals. Support: Lectures are Panopto-recorded if technically possible. 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.

Specialist Laboratory14
Independent Study115
Total study time151


Assessment Strategy

Assessment 1 [25%]: • Multiple choice and short answer format. • Evaluates LOs: 1, 2, 3 and 6. • 1 x 60 minutes. • Includes all content covered in the lecture sessions (both in the "Theoretical • background" and the "Interactive learning / practical" sections of each session). • Feedback on this assessment will be provided in a discussion format in a dedicated feedback session Assessment 2 [25%]: • Submission of a report presenting the experiments and results obtained in the applicable laboratory practical [Using IMAC to purify proteins from an extract]. • Deadline: 1 Week after the practical session. • Evaluates LOs: 3, 4, 5 and 6. • Specific guidelines for the report's format will be provided. In summary, the paper should not exceed 2 A4 pages and must include: Heading section with Title /Author / Affiliation, a concise "Introduction", a brief "Methods" section, the "Results" section presenting the findings and including relevant figure/s, "Conclusion", and appropriate "References". • In addition to written comments, oral feedback will be provided in a dedicated session. Assessment 3 [50%]: • Evaluates LOs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. • Scheduled by the University Timetables during the exam weeks. • 2h hour written examination comprising long answer questions and data analysis based on all the content covered in the module including the lecture and the practical sections of each session. Re-assessment Method Re-sit same types of assessment with different contents.


MethodPercentage contribution
Final Exam  (2 hours) 50%
Practical Report  (45 minutes) 25%
Short test 25%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

SOES1011 Introduction to Functional Marine Biology


Costs associated with this module

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:


There are no additional costs associated with this module.

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

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