GeneticsAvailable through the Bachelor of Biomedicine & Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of Science Extended
Completing a Genetics major will prepare you for a career or advanced study involving the application of fundamental genetics, genomics, evolutionary, population and ecological genetics to all areas of biology, biomedical sciences and biotechnology.
You will develop knowledge and skills in the theory of genetics and molecular biology, population genetics and evolution and in experimental design, data recording and analysis and scientific writing, which are essential preparation for roles in universities, research institutes, government departments, hospitals and in the biotechnology industry.
Students with a Genetics major can work in areas including:
- Ecology and conservation
- Medical genetics.
You could be employed by a range of institutions and organisations, including:
- Federal and state government.
- Research institutes
You can also pursue a career using the knowledge and skills gained from the major as a teacher, counsellor, policy maker, journalist or publisher.
Subjects you could take in this major
The subject develops a student’s knowledge of cell and developmental biology, introduced in second year subjects. The subject is arranged for students to gain an understanding of the approaches used to study cell biology and developmental biology and an appreciation of the major concepts involved in the development of a range of organisms – including microbes, invertebrates, vertebrates and plants. A particular focus is the range of approaches (genetic, cellular, anatomical and physiological) that are used to investigate biological systems and address current biological and biomedical problems, including human development, health and disease. This multi-disciplinary subject is co-taught by staff in the departments of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Botany, Genetics, and Zoology. A feature of this course is the application of this knowledge in pure and applied research and thus will provide a platform for students in many Life Science majors, including Biotechnology and Cell & Developmental Biology majors.
This subject explores the relevance of ecological and evolutionary theory for understanding the distributions of species, their interactions, their life history characteristics and how these traits are impacted by changing environmental conditions. Topics include spatial ecology and metapopulations, climatic impacts on distribution and abundance, life history evolution and ecosystem stability and resilience. The skills developed in this subject provide an essential grounding for careers in ecology.
This subject deals with how plants function in relation to changing physical environments and is designed for students interested in plant biology and physiology, including those seeking majors in plant science, agricultural science, landscape management, and environmental science. The practical work includes a six-week research project on topics selected by students and run in small groups of 2-3.
Topics to be covered will include:
- coping with environmental extremes and stress;
- water use and drought tolerance;
- plant defence and plant-animal interactions;
- nutrient cycling and nutrient-use efficiency;
- hyperaccumulation of toxic metals and phytoremediation.
How human are humans? Is Darwin’s extraordinary idea relevant for our species? This subject examines the role of evolution in shaping human biology, by examining our past origins, our current behavior and life-histories, and our future relationships with other organisms. Topics include the evolutionary history of hominids, patterns of migration and variation in skin colour; human reproductive strategies and sex ratios; why language makes us different; how genes and environment shape sexual and cooperative behavior; antagonistic co-evolutionary processes and antimicrobial resistance, pathogen virulence, and management of natural resources. Lectures draw on contemporary examples from the primary literature, complemented with TV documentaries. There is a strong emphasis on distinguishing between unsubstantiated conjecture and concepts that are supported by rigorous science.
The emphasis of this subject is on understanding how evolutionary forces shape the gene pool, on the use of molecular markers in genome mapping, in dissecting polygenic traits by mapping quantitative trait loci, and in other applications such as phylogenetics and conservation biology. The topics covered will be classical population genetics, the impact of natural selection, processes of speciation, conservation genetics, evolution of development, phylogenetic reconstruction, development of saturated linkage maps, physical mapping of genomes, mapping quantitative trait loci, comparative genomics, functional genomics and high-throughout methods of scoring genetic polymorphisms.
This subject focuses on gene structure, function and regulation, which form the molecular basis of many important biological phenomena such as short-term organismal and cellular responses to rapid changes in environmental conditions and long-term controls of development. The molecular mechanisms underlying these phenomena are frequently exploited in biotechnology, medical and agricultural applications. The modern molecular techniques used to study these processes will be presented. The topics to be covered in this subject include prokaryotic and eukaryotic gene structure; action and regulation; genomic and recombinant DNA methodology; molecular genetic manipulation of a wide variety of organisms to generate defined changes in the genome; the cell cycle and developmental genetics.
The subject provides a capstone experience for students majoring in Genetics. It involves lectures and practical exercises which demonstrate advanced principles and techniques of genetic analysis from classical and population genetics to modern molecular technology. An emphasis is placed on student participation in experimental design and data analysis. Tutorials will be used to illustrate modern aspects of Genetics by the in-depth consideration of current publications in the field.
This subject focuses on several key areas in contemporary human genetics: mutation in humans and its molecular basis; polymorphisms; selection and its consequences; gene mapping; strategies for identifying genes which cause human disease; the molecular basis of genetic diseases; genetics of cancer and ageing; the Human Genome Project and its applications; screening for genetic diseases; genetic counselling, human cytogenetics and gene environment interactions. Ethical issues will be discussed in context in various sections of the course.
This subject describes how bacteria have evolved specialized structures and proteins that allow them to adapt and survive in a range of environments. In particular this subject will examine the contribution of processes such as protein secretion and gene regulation to bacterial survival during infection of humans (pathogenesis). From an understanding of the molecular basis of host-pathogen interactions, students will be able to understand the diverse mechanisms bacteria use to cause disease, and how infectious diseases are spread. A range of medically important bacteria will be discussed, with an emphasis on their ecology, pathogenesis and the pathobiology of the disease. The subject will also describe techniques and strategies such as mutant construction and molecular cloning that are used to dissect microbial function, and cover applied aspects of medical microbiology, such as the diagnosis of infections and the mechanisms of the antibacterial action of and resistance to antimicrobial agents. Students should be able to apply this knowledge to the determination of strategies for prevention, control and recognition of disease, including the design of vaccines and other therapeutics.
To complement the information explosion of the new genomic era, it is essential to appreciate the cellular architecture of cells and how the delivery of proteins to their correct locations in the cell is crucial for the complex intracellular signalling pathways that control cell morphology, organisation and behaviour. Topics covered include compartmentalisation in eukaryotic cells; intracellular RNA and protein traffic; the molecular structure, function and biogenesis of subcellular organelles; protein folding and maturation; vesicle-mediated transport; structure and function of the extracellular matrix and cell adhesion molecules and their role in diseased states such as malignancies; cellular stress responses and linked signal transduction events; cytoskeletal structures and the signal transduction processes regulating the assembly and disassembly of actin-cytoskeleton; molecular processes determining cell movement and shape changes; imaging of processes within live cells. Students should acquire an understanding of the relationships between molecular design, cellular organisation and biological function of normal, stressed and malignant eukaryotic cells, as well as detailed knowledge of the major experimental strategies for investigating the molecular basis of these relationships. In addition to these specific skills, students will think critically from consideration of the lecture material and research papers, expand from theoretical principles to practical explanations through observing and reporting research literature.
This subject will introduce the general principles and modern methods of plant evolutionary biology: how to discover the phylogeny (relationships) of organisms using both morphological characters and molecular (DNA) data; how to use this information to improve the classification systems of plants; how to study aspects of evolution, coevolution and historical biogeography; and how to integrate information from living and fossil plants to discover the past and date evolutionary events. Examples of the diversity and evolution of Australian plants - both fossil and living forms - will be used throughout this subject. Topics will include:
- discovering plant relationships phylogenetic systematics;
- evolution of vascular plants, especially flowering plants;
- fossil history of land plants;
- historical biogeography and evolution of Australian flora.
This subject will describe the development, function and regulation of cells of the immune system; immunoglobulins; cytokines; immunological mechanisms operating in immunity to infectious disease; autoimmunity; hypersensitivity; and transplantation and tumour immunology.
This subject will describe the wide range of structures, functions and interactions of proteins and their importance in biological processes, biomedicine and biotechnology. Emphasis will be on the three-dimensional structure of proteins and their interactions with peptides, proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and other physiologically important molecules. We will describe experimental and computational techniques and how they help in determining and predicting protein structure and function, aid the design of new proteins and are used to develop new drugs. The subject matter addresses the general properties of protein structure; the major classes and topologies of proteins; evolution of sequence, structure and function; protein synthesis, folding, misfolding, targeting and trafficking; protein engineering for biotechnology; bioinformatics analysis of protein sequence and structure; binding of small molecules to proteins and drug design; protein-protein interactions; effects of mutations on tertiary structure, protein stability and biological functions; enzyme reaction kinetics and mechanisms. This subject is required for completion of a major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Topics will include structure, function, and development of the reproductive organs; endocrine and neuroendocrine and environmental control of reproduction, fertilisation, pregnancy, parturition and lactation in humans and other animals; reproductive diseases and disorders; assisted reproductive technologies; and reproduction in a community and global perspective.