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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Undergraduate - Area of Study

All areas of study information should be read in conjunction with the relevant course entry in the Handbook. The units listed for this area of study relate only to the 'Requirements' outlined in the Faculty of Science component of any bachelors double degrees.

Managing facultyFaculty of Science
Offered bySchool of Biological Sciences
Campus(es)Clayton, Sunway
Course coordinatorDr Coral Warr (School of Biological Sciences) - genetics sequences; Dr Richard Burke (School of Biological Sciences) - genetics and molecular biology sequence


  • At Sunway campus only a minor sequence is available in this area of study.


Genetics is the study of genes, their structure, function, transmission and evolution, and encompasses a rich and diverse range of research topics. Genetics lies at the centre of biology because the same basic genetic principles apply to microbes, plants, animals and humans. The genetic code provides the blueprint for life and every aspect of biology, from development, physiology and biochemistry through to behavior and ecology, is ultimately controlled by the products of genes and their interaction with the physical environment. Genetics underpins many exciting areas of science such as biomedical science, biotechnology, conservation biology, and forensics, and graduates with a major in genetics find employment in medical and agricultural research institutes, hospitals, government departments, schools and universities, patent firms, genetic counseling services, forensics laboratories, and biotechnology companies.


On completion of the major sequence in genetics students will:

  • have developed an understanding of genetics, its principles, approaches and methodology, at the molecular, cellular, organismal and population levels
  • have developed practical skills in experimental methods relevant to genetics, such as: molecular biology techniques involving recombinant DNA technologies; genetic breeding experiments; analysis of transgenic organisms; contemporary genotyping and field sampling methods; a the use of modern laboratory equipment and analysis software; histochemical and cytological techniques
  • be familiar with the use of bioinformatics and genomics for contemporary genetic research
  • be familiar with the principles of experimental design and culture and manipulation of model genetic organisms
  • have developed knowledge and appreciation of the application of genetics in medicine, biotechnology, agriculture and environmental management
  • have developed, in the context of the discipline, the graduate attributes of effective communication, quantitative literacy, information and communication literacy, inquiry and critical thinking, and ethical, social and international understanding
  • be fully prepared for further study, teaching, research and employment in genetic research and the practical applications of genetics.


Level two

  • GEN2041 Foundations of genetics
  • GEN2052 Human and population genetics

Level three

  • GEN3030 Genetics of development
  • GEN3040 Genomics and molecular genetics
  • GEN3051 Medical and forensic genetics
  • GEN3062 Conservation and ecological genetics
  • GEN3990 Genetics in action research project

Sequence requirements

Minor sequence in genetics (24 points)

Major sequence in genetics (48 points)

Major sequence in genetics and molecular biology (48 points):

Requirements for honours in genetics

  • 24 points of relevant level three units, of which normally 18 points are genetics units.

Additional information

Level one

Coordinator: Dr Gerry Rayner (School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science)

Students studying genetics in their first year will take BIO1011 (Biology 1) plus BIO1022 (Biology 2) and/or BIO1042 (Environmental biology). The focus in first year is to acquire basic knowledge of the inheritance of genes, the structure and expression of genes and the principles of population genetics as a stepping stone to the comprehensive treatment of these subjects provided at level two.

Level two

Coordinator: Dr Coral Warr (School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science)

Students wishing to complete a major in genetics must complete the two level two genetics units GEN2041 and GEN2052. Together these units provide a comprehensive grounding in all the concepts needed for the advanced, specialised genetics units offered at level three. Students wishing to complete a major in genetics and molecular biology must complete the level two molecular biology units, MOL2011 and MOL2022, and it is highly recommended they also complete GEN2041. In the level two genetics units students examine in detail how genes interact both with other genes and with environmental factors to control traits. The nature of the 'gene' is explored in detail, including gene regulation, function and mutation. Students explore how the availability of whole genome sequences for numerous organisms allows us to ask how genetic variation in individuals or in populations arises, is maintained, and allows species to change, adapt and evolve. Finally, students are introduced to the basic molecular genetic 'toolkit' that allows researchers to manipulate and study genes in a wide range of genetic model organisms from prokaryotes through to complex multicellular eukaryotes.

Level three

Coordinator: Dr Coral Warr (School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science)

In the level three genetics units students investigate specialised areas at the cutting edge of modern genetic research, building on the concepts gained in earlier levels. Studies in GEN3040 take a microscope to the genetic machinery of the cell, examining in detail all aspects of how genes and genomes function to control gene products, such as the extraordinarily complex mechanisms by which gene expression is controlled, of which new ways are continuing to be discovered, and the modern whole genome approaches to studying gene function and evolutionary questions. In GEN3030 students investigate how genes and genomes provide the blueprint that so reliably drives the growth and development of organisms from the starting point of a single-celled zygote to the end point of a mature adult with its complex array of different organs and tissues, using the same basic genetic machinery to produce organisms as startlingly diverse as fungi, insects, plants, fish and mammals. GEN3051 examines the role our genes play in human health, development and evolution and how disease can arise due to a mix of genetic defects and environmental influences, and how forensic science exploits our genetic similarities and differences to identify individuals from biological samples and to determine relationships between individuals. In GEN3062 students explore how modern DNA profiling technologies are used to solve crucial issues in species conservation and ecology, such as examining relationships between individuals, tracking movement of animals through landscapes, and as a molecular 'clock' to reconstruct historical population movements and interactions. All level three units involve extensive practical work exercises, and for high-achieving students keen to get into a real laboratory, GEN3990 is available, a project-based unit where the student carries out a research project in the laboratory of one of the genetics academic staff.


In addition to the requirements listed above, students must meet the entry requirements for the Science honours program relevant to their course of enrolment. See the entries for:

  • 2340 Bachelor of Environmental Science
  • 3520 Bachelor of Science Advanced with Honours
  • 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science
  • 2188 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)

Full details regarding the course structure for honours in this area of study are outlined in course 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science.

Relevant Courses

Single degrees

  • 2340 Bachelor of Environmental Science
  • 0050 Bachelor of Science
  • 3520 Bachelor of Science Advanced with Honours
  • 1120 Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)

Double degrees

  • 0530 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science
  • 3537 Bachelor of Arts (Global) and Bachelor of Science
  • 3528 Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Science
  • 1469 Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science
  • 3517 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Computer Science
  • 3711 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education
  • 1633 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education
  • 3278 Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering and Bachelor of Science
  • 4609 Bachelor of Environmental Engineering and Bachelor of Science
  • 3282 Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering and Bachelor of Science
  • 0085 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering
  • 0086 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws

Honours degrees

  • 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science
  • 2188 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)