Monash University

Undergraduate - Area of study

Students who commenced study in 2015 should refer to this area of study entry for direction on the requirements; to check which units are currently available for enrolment, refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your area of study.

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This area of study entry applies to students commencing this course in 2015 and should be read in conjunction with the relevant course entry in the Handbook. Any 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, Malaysia
CoordinatorDr Richard Burke (Clayton); Dr Emily Goh Joo Kheng (Malaysia)


  • Unit codes that are not linked to their entry in the Handbook are not available for study in the current year.
  • At Malaysia campus only a minor 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 counselling services, forensics laboratories, and biotechnology companies.

Learning outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  • demonstrate a thorough understanding of the broad principles of genetics and their application through suitable approaches and methodologies at the molecular, cellular, organismal and population levels
  • demonstrate advanced practical skills in contemporary experimental methods such as recombinant DNA techniques, gene expression analysis, genetic breeding experiments, analysis of transgenic organisms, genotyping methods, the use of modern laboratory equipment and the application of bioinformatic and genomic approaches
  • design laboratory or computer-based genetics experiments, incorporating the principles of effective experimental design and suitable methods for collecting, analysing and interpreting resultant data
  • describe and critically evaluate current and future applications of genetics to medicine, biotechnology, agriculture and environmental management
  • effectively synthesize and communicate genetic concepts and data to a variety of audiences using written, oral and visual modes
  • work and learn both independently and collaboratively in an accountable and responsible manner, recognising the importance of safe and ethically sound work practices.


Level one

Level two

  • GEN2041 Foundations of genetics
  • GEN2052 Genomics and population genetics
  • MOL2011 Molecular biology: Genes and their expression
  • MOL2022 Molecular biology: Gene technology and its application

Level three

  • GEN3030 Molecular, cellular and developmental genetics
  • GEN3040 Genomics and its applications
  • GEN3051 Medical and forensic genetics
  • GEN3062 Evolutionary and ecological genetics
  • GEN3990 Genetics in action research project
  • BIO3011 Research methods in biology

Sequence requirements

Minor in genetics (24 points)

Major in genetics (48 points)

* MOL2011 requires BIO1011 and BIO1022

Extended major in genetics (72 points)

* These units have additional pre-requisites at either level one or level two that need to be taken in addition to the units listed.

Requirements for honours in genetics

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

Additional information

Level one

Students studying genetics in their first year will take BIO1011 (Biology I) plus BIO1022 (Biology II) and/or BIO1042 (Environmental biology). Note that students intending to complete MOL2011 as part of their major must take BIO1022. 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

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. MOL2011 can also be taken as an alternative to one of the level three genetics units and is highly recommended for students with a particular interest in the areas of biomedical science and biotechnology. Students wishing to complete an extended major in genetics must complete the level two genetics units GEN2041 and GEN2052 and the level two molecular biology units MOL2011 and MOL2022. Together these units provide a comprehensive grounding in all the concepts needed for the advanced, specialised genetics units offered at level three. 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

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 explore recent advances in whole genome and bioinformatic approaches and how they can be used both to identify and study the genetic basis of simple and complex traits, and to find and use genetic variation to answer important ecological and evolutionary questions. Applications of these techniques to human health, sustainable food production and security and environmental management are considered. In GEN3030 students will explore the latest techniques for studying gene function, including visualising gene regulation in vivo and artificially activating or inhibiting gene activity in plants and animals. The application of these methods will be demonstrated using examples from the genetic study of fundamental cellular, developmental and physiological processes, such as programmed cell death, cell-cell communication, cell movement, tissue patterning, neuronal signalling, and cellular homeostasis. 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 evolutionary processes shape patterns of biodiversity by focusing on genetic diversity in an ecological context, what it is, how to measure it and how it underpins adaptation and contributes to successful biodiversity. 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.

Note that [ ({recommended course streams]] for the major are available.


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:

  • S3002 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Research (Honours)
  • 0051 Bachelor of Science (Honours)
  • 2188 Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program) (Honours)

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

Relevant courses

Single degrees

  • 3544 Bachelor of Environmental Science
  • S2000 Bachelor of Science
  • S3001 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Global Challenges (Honours)
  • S3002 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Research (Honours)

Double degrees

  • 4642 Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 0530 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science
  • 1469 Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science
  • D3005 Bachelor of Education (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4646 Bachelor of Environmental Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4069 Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Science
  • L3007 Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 3517 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Computer Science
  • 4638 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
  • S2003 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Global Studies

Honours degrees

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