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Unit of study_

MICR3988: Synthetic biology: the iGEM Competition (Adv)

2022 unit information

Synthetic biology (SynBio) is a new and rapidly evolving science that exists at the intersection of biology and engineering. Due to recent advances in technologies such as in-vitro DNA synthesis, the possibilities of SynBio for construction of new organisms (GMOs) are now virtually limitless. These powerful technologies hold both promise and peril, and thus they need to be wielded cautiously and ethically. In this unit, students will learn to design and construct new microorganisms, assess the risks associated with these, and use these novel GMOs to solve real-world problems. These activities will be conducted as part of the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, and the students in MICR3988 will constitute the University of Sydney's team in this competition. MICR3988 is primarily a hands-on research project, which will be conducted in an academic research lab. The students will design, build, and test a biological system of their own design using interchangeable DNA parts in microbial host cells. The work is interdisciplinary, involving microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, mathematical modelling, web design, science communication, science outreach, and industry engagement. The major output is a webpage which will be hosted in perpetuity by the iGEM Foundation.

Unit details and rules

Managing faculty or University school:

Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations

Code MICR3988
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
72 credit points of units of study and a WAM greater than 65
Assumed knowledge:

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Effectively work in a team to achieve common research goals.
  • LO2. Use the scientific literature to understand a topic area in depth.
  • LO3. Understand and discuss the concepts and methods of synthetic biology.
  • LO4. Design, carry out, and troubleshoot experiments in microbiology and molecular biology.
  • LO5. Communicate scientific ideas effectively via multiple avenues (talk, poster, webpage).
  • LO6. Take professional responsibility for the biosafety issues involved in work on GMOs.
  • LO7. Engage in meaningful dialogue concerning the ethical issues involved in work on GMOs.

Unit availability

This section lists the session, attendance modes and locations the unit is available in. There is a unit outline for each of the unit availabilities, which gives you information about the unit including assessment details and a schedule of weekly activities.

The outline is published 2 weeks before the first day of teaching. You can look at previous outlines for a guide to the details of a unit.

There are no availabilities for this year.
Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Nutrition and Dietetics Placement Session 2 2022
Supervision Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Modes of attendance (MoA)

This refers to the Mode of attendance (MoA) for the unit as it appears when you’re selecting your units in Sydney Student. Find more information about modes of attendance on our website.

Important enrolment information

Departmental permission requirements

If you see the ‘Departmental Permission’ tag below a session, it means you need faculty or school approval to enrol. This may be because it’s an advanced unit, clinical placement, offshore unit, internship or there are limited places available.

You will be prompted to apply for departmental permission when you select this unit in Sydney Student.

Read our information on departmental permission.

Additional advice

Departmental permission is required for entry into this unit. The UoS coordinator will assess candidates on the basis of their formal persuasive argument (statement of intent), their academic merit (transcript) and their skill set (what complementary skills they bring to the team). Due to supervisory and space constraints and WHS considerations, the maximum team size is 8 students. Note that the activities associated with this unit of study begin in May; there is a slight mismatch here with the formal assigned session time.