Human Genome and Its Impact

Course Description

There is no prerequisite knowledge in biology and genetics beyond high school level and no required competencies. This course will address the principles of genetics with an emphasis on the genetic code of the human genome. Through independent studies and interactions and exchanges with the online class, you will learn:

Course Learning Goals

After completing this course, you will be able to:

Course Competencies

In this course, you will develop one or two of the following competences as they relate to genetics:


Competence Statement and Criteria


This competency allows students to create statements that meet their specific learning needs


Can describe, differentiate, and explain form, function, and variation within biological systems


Can describe and explain connections among diverse aspects of nature


Can explain and evaluate the nature and process of science.

Note: If you are registered for CCS 337, the competencies you will gain in this class are as follows:

Note: If you are registered for S5, the competencies you will gain in this class are as follows:

Course Resources

To buy your books, go to

Required Reading:

Ridley M, Genome, Perennial, 2000.

Recommended reading (not required):

Davies K, Cracking the Genome: Inside the race to unlock Human DNA, 2001.

Frank-Kamenetski MD, Unraveling DNA: The Most Important Molecule of Life, 1997.

Dawkins R, River out of Eden, Weidefeld and Nicholson, 1995.

Major Web Site Sources

Course Grading Scale

A = 93% or above

A- = 90% - 92%

B+ = 87% - 89%

B = 83% - 86%

B- = 80% - 82%

C+ = 77% - 79% = C +

C = 73% - 76%

C- = 70% - 72%

D+ = 67% - 69%

D = 60% - 66%

F = Less than 60%


Please note: Grades lower than a C- do not earn credit or competence in the School for New Learning.

Course Structure

The course is composed of nine modules and each module contains reading tasks and questions. Reading tasks include module text and book readings, viewing of specified web site links, and independent searching. Answers to questions (paragraph to a page each) should be e-mailed to your instructor. Questions must be answered within 10 days. Lessons are usually given formally on Wednesdays and answers are expected by Saturday of the following week. Grades on unexcused overdue assignments may be penalized up to 10%. You should answer all the questions, if you are registered for 2 competences, and you should pay particular attention to the questions most relevant to your competences. If you are registered for only one competence, you should answer questions 1, 3 and 5 in five questions assignments and questions 1 and 3 in four questions assignments.

Discussion topics will be posted in the Discussion Board section of the SNL Online site. The Discussion Board will provide you with the opportunity to exchange ideas with your virtual classmates. You should participate in a timely fashion in each discussion forum (except for Course Q&A and Emails), at least 4 times if you are registered for 2 competences and at least twice if you are only registered for one.

The grading considerations are described in the Course Grading section below. If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact your instructor.

The following table outlines the course:

Week,  Module # and Title



Week 1, Module 1: Gene Structure

Read Ridley, Matt. Genome, Introduction and Life (Chromosome 1) Chapters

Read and listen to the definitions of Adenine, Autosome, Base pair, Cell, Centromere, Citogenetic map, Chromosome, Cytosine, Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), Double helix, Gene, Genome, Guanine, Human Genome Project, Karyotype, Locus, Mitochondrial DNA, Nucleotide, Nucleus, Sex chromosomes and Thymine

View the Following:

  • Nucleus
  • Base Pair 1
  • Base Pair 2
  • Double Helix
  • Nuclear DNA
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Chromosomes 1
  • Chromosomes 2
  • Chromosomes 3
  • X Inactivation 1
  • X-Inactivation 2

1.1 Gene Structure Questions

Week 2, Module 2: Deciphering the Genetic Code

Read Ridley, Matt. Genome, Species (Chromosome 2), History (Chromosome 3), and Pre-History (Chromosome 13) Chapters

Read and listen to the definitions of Amino acid, Anti sense, cDNA (complementary DNA) library, Codon, Exon, Gene expression, Genetic code, Intron, mRNA (messenger RNA), Non-coding DNA, Promoter, Protein, Repressor, RNA, Protein and Transcription

View the following:

  • From Gene to Protein 1
  • From Gene to Protein 2
  • From Gene to Protein 3
  • Transcription 1
  • Transcription 2
  • Transcription 3
  • Exon
  • Intron
  • Splicing
  • The Genetic Code
  • Translation and Protein Synthesis
  • Gene Control 1
  • Gene Control 2
  • Gene Control 3
  • Evolution 1
  • Evolution 2
  • Evolution 3
  • Evolution 4

2.1 Genetic Code Questions

Week 3, Module 3: Genetic Inheritance

Read Ridley, Matt. Genome, Immortality (Chromosome 14), and Sex (Chromosome 15) Chapters

Re-read Ridley, Matt. Genome, Introduction and Life (Chromosome 1) Chapters

Read and listen to the definitions of Allele, Autosomal dominant, Cell, Diploid, DNA replication, Dominant, Germ line, Haploid, Heterozygous, Homologous recombination, Homozygous, Inherited, Locus, Mendelian inheritance, Metaphase, Pro-nucleus, Recessive, Sex-linked. and Somatic cells

View the following:

  • Replication 1
  • Replication 2
  • Mitosis 1
  • Mitosis 2
  • Mitosis 3
  • Mitosis 4
  • Meiosis 1
  • Meiosis 2
  • Meiosis 3
  • Meiosis and Genetic Recombination 1
  • Meiosis and Genetic Recombination 2
  • Mitosis and Meiosys
  • Haploid and Diploid Cells
  • Recessive and Dominant Inheritance
  • X-linked Inheritance
  • Pedigree

3.1 Genetic Inheritance Questions

Week 4, Module 4: Diversity & Evolution

Read Ridley, Matt. Genome, Personality (Chromosome 11) and Self-Assembly (Chromosome 12) Chapters

Read and listen to the definitions of Allele, Duplication, Heterozygous, Highly conserved. sequence, Homozygous, Hybridization, Genotype, Locus, Oligo, Phenotype, Polymorphism, Probe and Translocation

  • Duplication 1
  • Duplication 2
  • Alternative Splicing 1
  • Alternative Splicing 2
  • Genetics and the Environment
  • Translocation
  • Multiple Proteins from a Single mRNA Transcript 1
  • Multiple Proteins from a Single mRNA Transcript 2
  • Genome Comparison 1
  • Genome Comparison 2
  • Genome Comparison 3

4.1 Diversity and Evolution Questions

Week 5, Module 5: Genetic Disorders

Read Ridley, Matt. Genome, Environment (Chromosome 5), Disease (Chromosome 9) and Death (Chromosome 17) Chapters

Read and listen to the definitions of Apoptosis, BRCA1/BRCA2, Cancer, Candidate gene, Carcinoma, Haploinsufficiency, Insertion, Malformation, Monosomy, Mutation, Nonsense mutation, Oncogenes, Oncoviruses, P53, Pseudogene, Retrovirus, Substitution, Syndrome, Translocation, Trisomy, and Tumor suppressor gene

View the following:

  • Translocation
  • Deletion
  • Mutations 1
  • Mutations 2
  • Mutations 3
  • Mutations 4
  • Cancer 1
  • Cancer 2
  • Radiation 1
  • Radiation 2
  • Teratogens 1
  • Teratogens 2
  • Mutagens and Carcinogens 1
  • Mutations and Carcinogens 2

5.1 Genetics Disorders Questions

Week 6, Module 6: Genetic Evaluation

Read Ridley, Matt. Genome, Prevention (Chromosome 19) chapter of Genome. And re-read Pre-History (Chromosome 13) Chapters

Read and listen to the definitions of Birth defect, Carrier, Congenital, Genetic screening, Mendelian inheritance, Polymerase chain reaction, and Primer

View the following:

  • Newborn Screening 1
  • Newborn Screening 2
  • Newborn Screening 3
  • False-Positive and False-Negative 1
  • False-Positive and False-Negative 2
  • Prenatal Diagnosis 1
  • Prenatal Diagnosis 2
  • Carrier Detection
  • DNA Amplification (PCR) 1
  • DNA Amplification (PCR) 2

6.1 Detection of Genetic Disorders Questions

Week 7, Module 7: Gene Therapy

Read Ridley, Matt. Genome, Cures (Chromosome 18) Chapter

Read and listen to the definitions of Adenovirus, Animal model, Bone marrow transplantation, Hematopoietic stem cells, Gene therapy, Gene transfer, Knockout, and Suicide gene

View the following

  • Preimplantation Genetics 1
  • Preimplantation Genetics 2
  • Gene Therapy 1
  • Gene Therapy 2

7.1 Gene Therapy Questions

Week 8, Module 8: Genetic Technology

Read Ridley, Matt. Genome, Self-Interest (Chromosome 8) Chapter

Read and listen to the definitions of Human artificial chromosomes, Non-directiveness, Technology transfer, Transgenic and Vector

View the following:

  • DNA Fingerprinting 1
  • DNA Fingerprinting 2
  • Genetic Engineering 1
  • Genetic Engineering 2
  • Bacterial Production of Human Insulin 1
  • Bacterial Production of Human Insulin 2

8.1 Genetic Engineering Questions

Week 9, Module 9: Genetic Policy

Read Ridley, Matt. Genome, Eugenics (Chromosome 21), and Free Will (Chromosome 22) Chapters

Read and listen to the definitions of Intellectual property rights and Non-directiveness

View the following

  • Patents in Genetics
  • Genetic Privacy and Legistlation
  • Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues 1
  • Ethical, Legal and Social Issues 2
  • Newborn Screening Policy 1
  • Newborn Screening Policy 2
  • Carrier Detection Policy
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Human Cloning 1
  • Human Cloning 2

9.1 Legal Ethical and Policy Issues Questions

Note: For students enrolled in the S-5 section of the course, the required assignments and assessment criteria will be provided in a supplemental set of handouts.

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Percentage distribution of Assessments

The grade for the class will be based on the answers to the questions (81%) and on participation in the discussions (19%). Each assignment contributes 9% of the final grade.

Grading Policies and Practices

To complete the course, you must complete each of the assignments as described in the course and submit them to your instructor by the assigned deadline.  In addition, you must participate in the course discussion forum by responding to all instructor requests and by interacting with fellow classmates as necessary.

Points are deducted for late work.

Required readings include the specified chapters from the textbook: Genome by Matt Ridley (Perennial, 2000), and the specified web sites. It is also highly recommended that students search on their own for additional information on each of the topics covered. Student should explore video, audio and animation sub-links within the viewed web sites, when available. There is no need to install foreign languages modules (foreign languages sites can be viewed after answering "No"). Acrobat Reader from Adobe is needed for reading and printing pdf files (it is available free of charge at Students are expected to participate in discussion of genome and genetics related topics in the Discussion Boards.

Assignments are due within 10 days. Lessons are usually given formally on Wednesdays and assignments are expected by Saturday of the following week. Grades on unexcused overdue assignments may be penalized up to 10%. You should answer all the questions, if you are registered for 2 competences, and you should pay particular attention the questions most relevant to your competences. If you are registered for only one competence, you should answer questions 1, 3 and 5 in five questions assignments and questions 1 and 3 in four questions assignments.

Answers should provide simple explanations with examples and arguments when applicable (a paragraph to a page for each answer). The students can ignore the chemical structure and other fine details but they should try to focus on the principles involved and their relation to their competences. For example, there is no need to know the chemical structure of adenine or thymine but it is important to understand that base pairing (A-T and C-G) is the underlying force that hold together DNA strands and allow replication of DNA, transcription of DNA to RNA and translation of RNA to protein.

Sample of a Good Answer

Following is an example of a question and a good answer:

Why is the quantity of nuclear DNA the same in every cell and that of mitochondrial DNA varies?

Cells usually contain a single nucleus but they contain multiple mitochondria. The number of mitochondria per cell is different depending on the tissue (skin, muscle, etc.) or organ (brain, heart, etc.) that the cells belong to, and depending on the cell age. Mitochondria multiply like cells, by division, but their divisions are not "in sync" with that of the cell they reside in. When cells divide, about half of the mitochondria, present at that time, go into each of the daughter cells.

The exceptions to constant quantity of nuclear DNA per cell are egg and sperm cells that contain only one set of chromosomes (instead of 2) and cells with several nuclei (instead of a single nucleus). Another exception is the mature red blood cell that contains no nucleus and no mitochondria either.

General Assessment Criteria for All Writing Assignments

All writing assignments are expected to conform to basic college-level standards of mechanics and presentation.

Consider visiting the Writing Center to discuss your assignments for this course or any others. You may schedule appointments (30 or 50 minutes) on an as–needed or weekly basis, scheduling up to 3 hours worth of appointments per week. Online services include Feedback–by–Email and IM conferencing (with or without a webcam). All writing center services are free.

Writing Center tutors are specially selected and trained graduate and undergraduate students who can help you at almost any stage of your writing. They will not do your work for you, but they can help you focus and develop your ideas, review your drafts, and polish your writing. They can answer questions about grammar, mechanics, different kinds of writing styles, and documentation formats. They also can answer questions and provide feedback online, through IM/webcam chats and email.

Obviously, the tutors won’t necessarily be familiar with every class or subject, but they are able to provide valuable help from the perspective of an interested and careful reader as well as a serious and experienced student-writer.

Schedule your appointments with enough time to think about and use the feedback you’ll receive. To schedule a Face-to-Face, Written Feedback by Email, or Online Appointment, visit

Discussion Forums

Discussion Forums are an important component of your online experience. This course contains discussion forums related to the topics you are studying each week. For requirements on your participation in the Discussion Forums, please see "Course Expectations" in the syllabus.

A Course Q & A discussion forum has also been established to manage necessary, ongoing social and administrative activities. This is where the management and administrative tasks of the course are conducted, and where you can ask 'process' questions and receive answers throughout the course. Please feel free to answer any question if you feel you know the answer; this sharing of information is valuable to other students.

College and University Policies

This course includes and adheres to the college and university policies described in the links below:

Academic Integrity Policy (UGRAD)

Academic Integrity Policy (GRAD)

Incomplete Policy

Course Withdrawal Timelines and Grade/Fee Consequences

Accommodations Based on the Impact of a Disability

Protection of Human Research Participants

APA citation format (GRAD)

Additional Course Resources

University Center for Writing-based Learning

SNL Writing Guide

Dean of Students Office

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary. If a change occurs, it will be clearly communicated to students.


This course was designed and produced by Dr. Yoav Ben-Yoseph and staff at SNL Online of the School for New Learning of DePaul University.

© 2010 School for New Learning, DePaul University. All Rights Reserved by SNL during contractual interval with the author.