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Suggested reading before you begin Part II Genetics

We do not have a formal reading list for incoming Part IIs. A lot of reading material is recommended by the various lecturers during the course, but most of this will be primary research papers and up-to-date reviews, rather than text books, and attempting to tackle this material before the lectures start would probably not be very useful (... and quite possibly, off-putting!)

Revision / background IA and IB course content on Moodle

During the Part II course, lecturers will regularly use basic genetics terminology and will often refer to techniques used to study molecular, cellular and developmental biology. In general, lecturers will not have time to go through these areas in detail during their lectures and supervisions, but will assume that you are familiar with this material from your IA and IB courses. We strongly recommend that you refresh your memory of the information introduced to you in IA Biology of Cells and IB Cell and Developmental Biology, since in many cases this information will be built upon at Part II. This is especially important if you performed poorly in your exams!. If you did take these courses, you will still have access to the relevant Moodle sites.

If you are an NatSci who did not take either of these courses, or an MVST student, the Department of Genetics will arrange for you to be given access to the relevant Moodle sites. IA Biology of Cells is a little reminiscent of MVST IA MIMS, introducing many aspects of molecular biology, and of human genetics.

You will find particularly useful:

IA Cells:

- Dr David Summers lectures Hunting the Gene, on basic genetics. These lectures deal with the principles of genetic analysis in haploid and diploid organisations, the nature of genes and the role of chromosomes in heredity, together with the genetics of prokaryotes and the advent of genetic engineering
- Prof Steve Russell’s/Dr Christine Farr's lectures on the Genetic Revolution. Recombinant DNA technology and its contribution, over the past 2 decades, to our understanding of cell biology and to the genetic basis of disease. This handout also includes a Glossary of terms that you may find useful over the course of the year.


- Dr Cahir O’Kane’s lectures Genome Organisation & Function, which introduce many of the techniques routinely used [e.g. sequencing (inc. NGS), Southern, northern, western blotting, PCR, DNA microarrays, SNPs, GWAS, RNAi, Crispr-Cas9, gene targeting & transgenesis, forward and reverse genetics]

We recommend that those who not have taken CDB read the lecture notes, and who have taken CDB re-read some of them, esspecially those delivered by lecturers from this Department:

- Prof Eric Miska : Molecular Biology of the Cell Nucleus. Focuses on gene expression and transcriptio. Please also see material by Dr Torsten Krude [Dept of Zoology] discussing the architecture of the nucleus, chromatin and DNA replication. All of this is valuable background for Part II Genetics

- Prof Alfonso Martinez-Arias : Gene Expression and Cell Decisions. Decision making illustrated through the consideration of the lac Operon, Lambda & S. cerevisiae

- Dr David Summers : Genetic Systems of Prokaryotes. Strategies of gene expression andorganisation in prokaryotes; the prokaryotic cell cycle, nucleoid, prokaryotic genomes and the genetic flexibility of prokaryotes

- Dr Cahir O’Kane : Genome Organisation & Function. Eukaryotic genome content, sequencing, repetitive sequences and mobile elements, plus genome engineering strategies for studying cell biology and development

- Dr Marco Geymonat : Cytoskeleton & Mitotic Cell Division. The eukaryotic cytoskeleton and its role in cell shape, motility and mitotic cell division.

MVSTs  will also find useful the CDB lectures on Development in the Lent and Easter Terms. Reading through these should help you prepare for the Developmental Genetics Module.

In the past MVST students have told us that they find the Developmental Genetics material the most unfamiliar and they have asked us for more preparatory reading suggestions. For those of you who have not done any developmental biology and who would like to read further around the area in preparation for the Genetics Module 3 a useful book, which gives a good overview, is Wolpert & Tickle, Principles of Development (OUP). This book will be available in the Genetics Library for everyone to refer to during the year.


All incoming Part II Genetics students are given access to the NST IA Evolution and Behaviour Moodle site, which students find provides a helpful introduction to material in our Lent term Module 5, Evolutionary Genetics. (If you took E&B in IA, then you will already have access). The most useful part of this course is the first half of the Michaelmas term, especially the lectures from Dr John Welch, that introduce evolutionary genetics. John also provides an Evolutionary Genetics Glossary of terms, which you may find useful over the course of the year.

Review articles, books and videos covering key concepts 

Genetic Screens

From a series of reviews into 'The Art & Design of Genetic Screens' in Nature Reviews Genetics we have picked out two which should be useful:

Forsburg (2001) The Art and Design of Genetic Screens: Yeast. Nature Reviews Genetics 2: 659-668. doi:10.1038/35088500

St Johnston (2002) The Art and Design of Genetic Screens: Drosophila. Nature Reviews Genetics 3: 176-188. doi:10.1038/nrg751

CRISPR-Cas9 and RNAi technologies

Barrangou et al (2015) Advances in CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering: lessons learned from RNA interference. Nucleic Acids Research 43(7): 3407-3419. DOI:

Yeast genetics

The Nobel Prize acceptance speech delivered in 2001 by Sir Paul Nurse, in which he talks about his work on the cell cycle using yeast genetics:

Telomeres & telomerase

The Nobel Prize acceptance speech delivered in 2009 by Carol Greider:

Evolutionary genetics

Charlesworth & Charlesworth, Evolution: A very short introduction, OUP (a useful introduction for Module 5)
Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, OUP
Maynard-Smith, Evolutionary Genetics, OUP

Developmental genetics

Wolpert & Tickle, Principles of Development, OUP (a useful introduction for Module 3).
Mukherjee, The Gene: an intimate history, Simon & Schuster (An excellent, general interest, genetics-orientated book)

All books listed above are available for reference in the Genetics Library. Some are also available to borrow or as e-books in the University Library.

If clicking on the links for the journal papers above does not work, try accessing the journal via the UL e-resources LibGuides page [middle column] :