Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Molecular Virology 4Y option BIOL4082

  • Academic Session: 2020-21
  • School: School of Life Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This option aims to provide a detailed analysis of the molecular biology underpinning the replication strategies and host-interactions of a range of viruses that impact on today's society. The option will explore a selection of fascinating and topical viruses such as influenza virus, HIV and Hepatitis C virus. Taught sessions will include research-active staff. Current virology research, how it is carried out and its relevance in the world today will be the focus of class discussions. 


There are normally 3 hours of teaching on Fridays, which may be split over more than one session. 

Requirements of Entry

Normally, only available to final-year School of Life Sciences students in a Degree Group B (Biomolecular Sciences group) or Degree Group D (Infection & Immunity group) programme. Visiting students may be allowed to enrol, at the discretion of the School of Life Sciences Chief Adviser and the Course Coordinator. 

Excluded Courses



The course will be assessed by a 2-hour examination (75%) and in-course assessment consisting of writing a Nature Microbiology News and Views style article on a research paper (25%). Students will choose one paper from a number provided.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The course aims are:

■ to enable students to develop a detailed understanding of the molecular biology underpinning the replication cycles and host-interactions of a range of human and animal viruses; 

■ to introduce students to recent primary research in molecular virology; 

■ to encourage the development of skills enabling the acquisition, critical analysis, interpretation and discussion of relevant factual information. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students will be able to: 

■ examine and compare the replication cycles of selected DNA and RNA viruses;

■ appraise the mechanisms by which hosts control virus infection and how different viruses overcome these;

■ examine the molecular basis for how certain viruses cause disease;

■ evaluate the current state of scientific knowledge for several virus systems under study;

■ analyse and appraise primary research evidence in molecular virology.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.