Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

This module is inactive in the selected year. The information shown below is for the academic year that the module was last running in, prior to the year selected.

2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY3232 Epigenetics

20 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Professor Peter Meyer

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Pre-requisite qualifications

This module will not be suitable for students who have no background in molecular biology or no interest in design and interpretation of experiments.

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will give a step-by-step introduction into epigenetics, a subject that covers aspects from various disciplines, including biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, development, medicine and environmental science.As earlier lectures provide the foundation for the understanding of later lectures, continuous presence and active participation will be essential. The module focuses on how experimental data are obtained and interpreted, which should make the module especially valuable to students who are interested in experimental science.


This is an advanced topic module that covers a relatively new research area, which has wide implications for our understanding of gene regulation, development and genome structure in different eukaryotic systems. The module will provide you with a good understanding of epigenetic phenomena and mechanisms that have been discovered in animals and plants.

A particular feature of this module is its strong focus on experimental design and on the interpretation of experimental data, which should be of specific value for students who are interested in a postgraduate career in experimental science. The intensive study of original research articles will enable you to interpret experimental data and to design experiments to address specific questions. As earlier lectures provide the foundation for the understanding of later lectures, continuous presence and active participation will be essential. The module focuses on how experimental data are obtained and interpreted, which should make the module especially valuable to students who are interested in experimental science.

The module aims to enhance your knowledge and to stimulate original thinking. In addition to a sound knowledge of facts, which forms the basis of a good understanding of the subject, this module will enable you to use experiments described in the literature to design your own research work programme.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, you should be able to:
- give an account of the history of epigenetics phenomena
- describe the different epigenetic pathways and their interactions
- understand the significance of epigenetics for gene expression, development, genome organisation and genome stability
- understand the contributions of epigenetic effect to somatic cloning, cancer and aging
- describe links between environmental effects and environmental conditions
- interpret and design experiments that examine epigenetic states and that identify endogenous regulators of epigenetic pathways.

Skills outcomes
The module will improve the students’ ability to analyse data and develop experimental concepts.


History of epigenetics, composition of the nucleus, chromatin packaging, nucleosome assembly, histones and transcription factors, dynamic interactions between histone marks, competition and co-operativity between small RNAs, histone marks and DNA methylation, lysine and arginine methylation and demethylation systems, mammalian and plant DNA methyltransferases, initiation, maintenance and removal of DNA methylation patterns, DNA demethylation enzymes, position-effect variegation, Su(var) and E(var) functions, integrative epigenetic gene repression, RNAi-directed heterochromatin formation, heterochromatin types, small RNAs and heterochromatin formation, centromeric heterochromatin in mouse and plants, histone signals for DNA elimination and repair, epigenetic regulation of development, Polycomb/thrithorax-mediated memory functions, ATP-hydrolysing enzymes, genomic imprinting, imprinting and human diseases, assisted reproductive technology and imprinting defects, imprinting of X chromosome loci encoding social recognition, DNA methylation reprogramming in the germ line and in preimplantation embryos, chromatin modification in spermatids, active and passive demethylation programmes, X-chromosome inactivation, dosage compensation mechanisms, pluripotency and totipotency, reprogramming of nuclear cell types cloning efficiency, epigenetic features of tumour cells, epigenetic and genetic gatekeepers, epigenetic models for aging, DNA damage and repair, environmental impact on epigenetic patterns.

Experimental strategies and epigenetic technologies: Chromatin Immunoprecipitation, chromatin reconstitution, RNA ChlP, characterisation of DNA methylation patterns by isoschizomeres and bisulphite sequencing, Small RNA cloning, use of epigenetic pathway mutants, detection of genes, transcripts, proteins and protein complexes.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours170.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Students will be provided with pdf documents of original publications relevant to the lectures and the practical.
- During the lectures, the relevant research publications will be pointed out to students who are then expected to study these publications with specific emphasis on experimental design and data interpretation.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Lectures will focus on scientific knowledge and on a deeper understanding of how experimental data are obtained and interpreted.
- Students will be expected to contribute to the discussion about experimental design and interpretation, for which they should use the information and understanding obtained in earlier lectures. This will provide opportunities for student to monitor their learning progress.
- The lectures are accompanied by three practical sessions where students will analyse original publication that have generated some of the data presented and discussed in the lectures.
- Students will have access to the publication in advance and some experimental details from the publications will be discussed in lectures prior to the practical.
- The students will be asked to answer specific questions under exam conditions to assess their understanding of the subject.
- Feedback will be provided to enable students to monitor their performance.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PracticalData design/analysis40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Failure to submit this work or make a serious attempt will result in a V code being appended to the final module mark. For full details see the Code of Practice on Assessment.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)3 hr 60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 18/04/2018


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019