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Genetics and evolution, 15 Credits

Swedish name: Genetik och evolution

This syllabus is valid: 2023-01-02 and until further notice

Course code: 5BI243

Credit points: 15

Education level: First cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Biology: First cycle, has less than 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: Three-grade scale

Established by: Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 2021-03-03

Revised by: Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 2022-10-17


With a primary focus on eukaryotic organisms, this course deals with genetics at cellular and organismal levels, population genetics and microevolutionary processes. The genetics section deals with the structure and function of the DNA molecule and the flow of genetic information from genes to products, genome structure and organization, mitosis, meiosis and transmission genetics: inheritance of qualitative characters and linkage. The evolution section deals with population genetics: Hardy-Weinberg law, basic micro-evolutionary processes, quantitative genetics and speciation. Basic molecular evolution at whole genome level, and methods for studying genetic variation in natural populations are included in the course. The knowledge from theoretical aspects of the course will be consolidated and exemplified in problem solving exercises, group discussions and laboratory work. An individual investigative project will be carried out within a one of the subject areas covered in the course.
The course is divided into the following modules:

Module 1, Genetics, 5 hp
The Genetics section deals with the structure and replication of the genetic material (DNA, RNA, proteins, genetic code, replication, transcription, translation, chromosomes, mitosis / meiosis), control of gene expression, the creation of genetic variation (mutations), and the transfer of genetic information between generations (inheritance of qualitative and quantitative characters and linkage). Lessons learned from whole genome data, e.g. genome size and coding versus non-coding DNA, are also examined.

Module 2, Evolution, 7.5 hp
The Evolution section covers population genetics - genetic variation and Hardy-Weinberg's law as well as models for micro-evolutionary processes that alter allele and genotype frequencies over generations, within and between populations (mutation, migration, genetic drift, natural selection, mating systems, sexual selection). Speciation models are introduced to gain an understanding of the roles played by different evolutionary processes in facilitating reproductive isolation. Principles of macroevolution, and an overview on human evolution are presented. Methods and models used to detect and analyze the variation at genomic, genotypic and phenotypic levels, within and among individuals, populations and species are introduced.
Module 3, Individual investigative project, 2,5 hp
Students write an individual, in-depth essay on a topic related to those covered in the course. Topic choice must be approved by the course coordinator. The project requires finding, summarizing and synthesizing original research using papers from academic journals, source assessment, question formulation, formal scientific writing and proper citation of sources. Projects are presented in verbal and written forms. A critical assessment of a fellow student's project is also required.

Expected learning outcomes

After completing the course, for the grade Pass, the student should be able to:

Module 1, Genetics, 5 hp
1. Describe the structure and replication of the genetic material and basic aspects of the flow of genetic information from DNA to proteins.
2. Describe processes involved in the regulation of gene expression.
3. Explain fundamental genetic concepts.
4. Describe the phases of mitosis and meiosis in detail and explain the connection between chromosomal behavior in meiosis and Mendelian segregation, independent assortment and linkage.
5. Apply simple laboratory methods for visualizing the genetic material and summarize the results in a scientific report. Examined through a lab-report. 

Module 2, Evolution, 7.5 hp
6. Describe the origins and genetic consequences of mutations and chromosomal abnormalities.
7. Analyze allele and genotype frequencies within populations based on the the Hardy-Weinberg law.
8. Analyze basic processes in population genetics, mutation, migration, natural selection, sexual selection and genetic drift and describe how they affect the genetic diversity within a species.
9. Apply simple laboratory methods for detecting genetic variation and summarize the results in a scientific report. Examined through a lab-report. 
10. Describe speciation processes.
Modul 3, Fördjupningsuppgift, 2,5 högskolepoäng
11. Individually search for and evaluate scientific information.
12 Plan and execute a written essay and oral presentation within any of the subject areas dealt with in the course.
13. Critically review and constructively criticize a corresponding project.

After completing the course, for the grade Pass with distinction, the student should be able to:

Module 1, Genetics, 5 hp
14. Apply knowledge about transcription, translation and the genetic code to demonstrate an understanding of the flow of genetic information from DNA to proteins.
16. Apply the principles of Mendelian inheritance and their extensions (one- and two-locus traits with two or more alleles, gene interactions, sex linkage and linkage) by analyzing inheritance patterns from crosses.

Module 2, Evolution, 7.5 hp
16. Discuss methods for detecting and analyzing variation at gene, genome and phenotypic levels within and between individuals, populations and species.
17. Apply evolutionary thinking in biology and conservation.

Modul 3, Fördjupningsuppgift, 2,5 högskolepoäng
18.  Construct their own scientific arguments within the area of the course.

Required Knowledge

Biology 30 credits. Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary course English B/6 .When the language of instruction is Swedish, applicants must prove proficiency in Swedish to the level required for basic eligibility for higher studies 

Form of instruction

Learning is facilitated through lectures, problem solving, laboratory work, group discussions, project work, and report writing. Exercises, labs, group discussions and project work are compulsory. Skills acquired through these learning approaches are invaluable in the workplace.

Examination modes

Performance is assessed through written examinations and laboration reports at the end of module 1 and 2, and through written and oral presentations of Module 3. The grades for all modules as well as for the course as a whole are Fail (U), PSS (G), and Pass with Distinction (VG). For the grade Pass, the student must fulfill all expected study outcomes for the grade Pass. For the grade Pass with Distinction, the student must also fulfill  all of the expected study outcome for the grade Pass with Distinction. Students who fail have the right to retake examinations. Students who pass may not retake the examination to obtain higher grades. Students who have failed an examination or other assignment twice are entitled to have another examiner appointed, unless there are special circumstances (HF Chapter 6. § 22). Requests for new examiners are made to head of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science.

Departures from the form of examination can be made for a student who has a decision for educational support due to a disability. Individual adaptation of the examination form must be considered based on the student's needs. The form of examination is adapted within the framework of the syllabus's expected study results. At the request of the student, the teacher responsible for the course, in consultation with the examiner, must quickly decide on a suitable examination form. The decision must then be notified to the student.

Students have the right to have their previous education or equivalent knowledge and skills acquired in the profession tested whether it can be credited for the corresponding course at Umeå University. Application for credit is submitted to the Student Centre / Examinations. For more information on credit transfer available on Umeå University's student web, www.student.umu.se, and the Higher Education Ordinance (Chapter 6). A refusal of accreditation may be appealed against (Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 12) to the University Appeals Board. This applies to the whole as well as part of the application if accreditation is refused.

Other regulations

In the event that the course plan ceases to apply or undergoes major changes, students are guaranteed at least three exam opportunities (including regular examinations) according to the rules in the syllabus that the student was originally registered for, for a maximum of two years from the date of expiry of the previous course plan or the course ceased being offered.


The literature list is not available through the web. Please contact the faculty.