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BIO8412 Biotechnology in Sustainable Systems

Semester 2, 2013 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Sciences
School or Department : Biological & Physical Sciences
Version produced : 21 July 2014

Contents on this page


Examiner: Bernadette McCabe
Moderator: Joachim Ribbe


Biotechnology is increasingly providing sustainable solutions in a wide range of areas from medicine to industry, agriculture and the environment. Economics, business strategies, government policies and consumer preferences are all factors which provide direction to biotechnology development. Knowledge about how sustainable management, production and use of biological resources (microbial, plant and animal) can provide the basis for the development of safe and ecologically efficient products. This course aims to provide students with an understanding of how microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology techniques are applied in the fields of medicine, agriculture and the environment to bring about sustainable outcomes.


This course will explore various applications of biotechnology which involve agricultural, environmental and medical science with particular emphasis on how it contributes to meeting issues, such as infectious disease, food shortages, renewable bioresources, and ecological sustainability, which are central to global sustainability. A key focus of this course will be the investigation of specific case studies which examine the various roles that biotechnology plays in sustainable systems.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Have a sound understanding of the moral, ethical and social context in which biotechnology is applied,
  2. Outline the laboratory techniques and practices in microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and chemistry, which are the foundations of biotechnological developments,
  3. Understand the diversity of medical and industrial practices which laboratory discoveries are applied on a wider scale to promote sustainable outcomes,
  4. Describe detailed examples of how microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology techniques are applied in the food industry, medicine, agriculture and the environment.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Introduction: Science, technology and society 5.00
2. The tools of biotechnology 10.00
3. Biotechnology in the research laboratory 10.00
4. Biotechnology in the food industry 20.00
5. Medical biotechnology in society and health care applications 15.00
6. Biotechnology and sustainable agriculture 20.00
7. Environmental sustainability and biotechnology 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Kreuzer, H and Massey, A 2005, Biology and biotechnology. Science, Applications and Issues, ASM Press.
    (ISBN 1-55581-304-6.)

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Bainbridge, W.S. Roco, M. C., (eds) 2007, Progress in Convergence: Technologies for Human Wellbeing, Wiley- Blackwell.
    (ISBN: 978-1-57331-665-1.)
  • Chivan, E & Bernstein, A 2008, Sustaining Life: How human health depends on biodiversity, Oxford University Press.
    (ISBN: 978-0-19-517509-7.)
  • Hanks, C 2009, Technology and values: essential readings, Wiley-Blackwell.
    (ISBN: 978-1-4051-4901-3.)
  • Herren, RV 2013, Introduction to Biotechnology: an agricultural revolution, 2nd edn, Delmar Cengage Learning.
    (ISBN: 978-1-4354-9837-2.)
  • Holland, S 2003, Bioethics: A philosophical introduction, Wiley.
    (ISBN: 978-0-7456-2618-5.)
  • Biotechnology journals held in USQ library.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 55.00
Lectures and Tutorials 39.00
Private Study 73.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 100 35 16 Jul 2013 (see note 1)
ASSIGNMENT 2 100 35 16 Jul 2013 (see note 2)
SEMINAR PRESENTATION 100 30 16 Jul 2013 (see note 3)

  1. Examiner to advise due date for Assignment 1.
  2. Examiner to advise due date for Assignment 2.
  3. Examiner to advise due date for Seminar Presentation.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, and tutorials,) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks or a grade of at least C-. Students do not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to be awarded a passing grade in this course. Refer to Statement 4 below for the requirements to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded. No assignments will be accepted after model answers have been posted.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    Candidates are allowed access only to specific materials during a Restricted Examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the restricted examination for this course are: writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination); calculators which cannot hold textual information (students must indicate on their examination paper the make and model of any calculator(s) they use during the examination). Students whose first language is not English, may, take an appropriate unmarked non-electronic translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary) into the examination. Dictionaries with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate's possession until appropriate disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an unfair advantage.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Students must retain a copy of any assignment submitted. If requested, students will be required to provide a copy of assignments submitted for assessment purposes. Such copies should be despatched to USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request being made.