Genetics of Complex Traits and Disorders 4C option BIOL4296

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Molecular Biosciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will examine how the genetic contribution to complex phenotypes works, using examples from humans and from other organisms (e.g., fish, mammals). The course will cover the genetic basis for complex traits and disorders, the analysis of genetic influences at the genomic level, the analysis of complex qualitative and quantitative phenotypes through their genetics, and approaches used to identify and characterise variants with causal predisposing roles.


This option is assigned to block S2-C. There are normally 2-4 hours of teaching on Thursdays 

Requirements of Entry

Normally, only available to final-year Life Sciences students in Life Sciences programme. Visiting students may be allowed to enrol, at the discretion of the Life Sciences Chief Adviser and the Course Coordinator. 

Excluded Courses



The course will be assessed by a 2-hour examination (70%) and an in-course assessment (30%), both of which will comprise a mixture of problem questions and mini-essay questions. The in-course assessment will be delivered either as a take-home assessment or as a timed test with preparation allowed beforehand.

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. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will 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 aims of this course are to foster:

■ understanding of the principles underlying human and non-human complex trait genetics and their application in modern approaches to studying such genetic disorders and traits;

■ awareness of the impact of complex genetics on the lives of individuals of any diploid species.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Discuss and critically appraise the current state of understanding of relevant topics in the field of complex genetics, with specific focus on:

■ Patterns and properties of genomic variation and how it relates to the genetic contribution to a range of complex traits and disorders;

■ Identification and characterisation of genes and variants with a role in predisposition to complex phenotypes, including the basis for genome-wide analysis approaches;

■ Data interpretation;

■ Use the scientific literature to evaluate evidence supporting hypotheses in the field of complex genetics;

■ Critically discuss, evaluate and analyse data including that of a numerical and statistical nature.

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.