This course is designed for graduates interested in developing skills in using genetics for wildlife conservation and animal/wildlife forensic investigations. It develops theoretical knowledge and practical application of the use of genetics in these fields. Teaching includes lectures, practicals and self-directed study, and students learn the fundamentals of molecular genetics and population genetics which underpin forensic and conservation genetics.
In addition to taught modules, students will undertake a project which develops research skills. Students graduating from this course will be well placed to undertake further research at doctoral level or take up jobs in forensic/genetics/veterinary/diagnostic/wildlife protection laboratories.
Part 1 lays the foundation for study and includes training in aspects of research and forensic genetics Part 2 builds on this knowledge with more detailed specialist training and allows students to work on a group project with simulated casework Part 3 constitutes the dissertation, a research project undertaken individually by students
The course comprises the following modules:
Semester 1 Research Methods: Trains students in a wide range of skills including technical documentation, project management, library use, data analysis and retrieval, and writing and research skills. Forensic Genetics I: Introduces the principles, methods, and techniques of molecular biology that are relevant to DNA profiling. Forensic Genetics II: Familiarises students with current DNA profiling techniques and the analysis/interpretation of DNA profiles. Students will develop a critical understanding of the procedures involved in DNA profiling through the analysis of mock cases.
Semester 2 Population Genetics and Statistics: Centres on the statistical analysis and interpretation of genetic data, and on the evolutionary and population genetics that influence the frequencies of these markers. Group Project: Students work in a small group and develop protocols and quality assurance procedures for a consultancy in their specialist field. They will also undertake simulated casework and present their findings. Genetics in Wildlife Conservation: Provides students with an insight into fundamental concepts of conservation genetics and the application of appropriate genetic analyses of wildlife conservation and wildlife forensic science.
Semester 3 Research Project: Every student will undertake a research project, which will utilise and develop many of the skills learnt on the course. The project will be entirely based within the University or in an approved collaborating institute but students will have the opportunity to visit and gain field experience at the UCLan-supported Maasai Centre for Field Studies in Kenya.