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Department of Genetics


We do not have a formal reading List of 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 reveiws, rather than text books. 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 regulary use basic genetics terminology and will often refer to techniques used to study molecular, cellular and devevelopmental biology. In general, lecturers will not have time to go through these areas in detail during lectures and supervisions but will assume that you are familiar with the material from your own IA and IB courses. We strongly recommend that if you are a NatSci, you refresh your memory if the informtion introduced to you in the NST IA Biology of Cells and IB Cell and Developmental Biology courses, since in many cases this information will be built upon at Part II. If you are a pre-clincial Medic or Vet, we recommend that you re-read the genetic lectures deliveed in the IA MIMS course (by Profs Miska and Murchison, and Dr Farr) and (for Medics) those given by Dr Aylwyn Scally/Dr Felipe Karam Teixeira in the IB HR course.

You find particuarly useful:

IA Cells
IA Biology of Cells is a little reminiscent of IA MIMS, introducing many aspects of molecular and cellular biology and genetics:

  • Dr David Summers: Hunting the Gene lectures, covers basic genetics
  • Prof Steve Russell: The Genetic Revolution. The handout also includes a Glossary of Terms that you may find useful over the course of the year.
  • Dr Marisa Segal: Cell Proliferation, useful preparation for Module 1.


We recommend that those of you who have not taken CDB read the lecture notes, and those of you who have taken CDB re-read some of them, especially those delivered from lecturers in this department:

  • Prof Eric Miska: Molecular Biology of the Cell Nucleus. Focusses on gene expression and transciption [see also lectures from Dr Torsten Krude (Dept of Zoology) that discuss the architecture of the nucleus, chromatin and DNA replication]. In addition, his final lecture on: Gene Expressions and Decisions. All this material will be valuable background for Part II Genetics.
  • Dr David Summers: Genetics Systems of Prokaryotes. Strategies of gene expression and organisation in prokaryotes: the prokaryotic cell cycle, nucleoid, prokaryotic genomes (chromosomes and plasmids) and the genetic flexibility of prokaryotes.
  • Dr Cahir O'Kane: Eukaryotic Genome Organisation and Function: genome content, repetitive sequences and mobile elements, plus genome engineering strategies for studying cell biology and development. Cahir's lectures introduce many of the techniques routinely used and you may find it useful to refer to these lectures during the year [e.g. sequencing (including NGS), southern, northern, western blotting, PCR, DNA microarrays, SNPs, GWAs, RNAi, CRISPR-Cas9, gene targeting & transgenesis, forward and reverse genetics]. His second CDB lecture block (Coordination of Organelle & Cellular Function) introduces state-of-the-art microscopy approaches (super-resolution), useful preparation for Part II Genetics.
  • Dr Marisa Segal: Cytoskeleton & Mitotic Cell Division. The eukaryotic cytoskeleton and its role in shape, motility and mitotic cell division.

You will also find useful the CDB lectures on development in the Easter Term:

  • Dr Ben Steventon: Xenopus & Zebrafish Development.
  • Dr Naomi Moris: Mammalian Development.

Reading these should help you prepare for Module 3.

All incoming students are given access to the NST IA course Evolution and Behaviour, which students find provides a helpful introduction to material in our Lent Term Module, Evolutionary Genetics and Adaptation.


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:

  1. Forsburg (2001) The Art and Design of Genetic Screens: Yeast. NAture Reviews Genetics 3:176-188/ doi:10.1038/nrg751
    The art and design of genetic screens: yeast | Nature Reviews Genetics
  2. St Johnston (2002) The Art and Design of Genetic Screens: Drosophila. Nature Reviews Genetics3: 176-188. doi10.1038/nrg751
    nrg751.pdf (

CRISPR-Cas9 and RNAi Technologies

Barrangou et al (2015) Advances in CRISPR-cas9 genome engineering: lesons learned from RNA interference. Nucleic Acids Research 43(7): 3407-3419.
Advances in CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering: lessons learned from RNA interference | Nucleic Acids Research | Oxford Academic (

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 useing yeast genetics.
The official website of the Nobel Prize -

Developmental Genetics

In the past, pre-clinical medics and vets have told us that they find 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 Genetics Module 3, a useful book, which gives a good overview, is Wolpert, Tickle and Martinez Arias, Principles of Development (OUP). This book is available in the Genetics Library for everyone to refer to during the year.

Evoloutionary Genetics

  1. Charlesworth & Charlesworth, Evolution: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, (a useful introduction to Module 4). 2017 ed. is available as an e-book via UL iDiscover.
  2. Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, is available as an e-book via UL iDiscover.
  3. Maynard-Smith, Evolutionary Genetics, Oxford University Press. (1998 ed is available as an e-book via UL iDiscover. A hard copy will also be available in the Genetics Library).
  4. Barton et al. (2007) Evolution. Cold Spring Harbor Labratory Press.
    Evolution (

An excellent, general interest, genetics-orientated book is:

Mukherjee, The Gene: an intimate history, Simon & Schuster.
This book will bring alive much of the genetics material discussed in the IA Cells and MIMS lecture courses./we strongly recommend finding a copy to read over the summer.

All books listed above are available for reference in the Genetics Library. Some are also avaialble as e-books via the iDiscover page: