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Human Genetics

PLACES 2012: 15
POINTS 2011:535*

Entry Requirements:
Leaving Certificate OC3 or HD3 Mathematics
HC3 In two of physics, biology, chemistry, physics/chemistry, mathematics and applied mathematics
GCSE Grade B Mathematics
Advanced GCE (A-Level) Grade C In two of physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics and applied mathematics

Human genetics (TR073) focuses on the genes of humans, while the Genetics option in Science (TR071) examines plant, human and other animal genes.
Students who apply for the general-entry Science course (TR071) have the option of selecting Genetics as their specialist subject for the Sophister (third and fourth) years of the course. See page 148.

What is Human genetics?
Human genetics is the study of genes – or heredity – in humans. It also examines the effects of these genes on both individuals and societies. It has developed rapidly in the last decade as new technology has made it possible to study genes in much greater detail. Examples of remarkable advances in knowledge include:
• The discovery of the molecular basis of many inherited disorders
• The development of genetic and stem-cell-based therapies for inherited disorders
• The ability to trace the evolution of mankind
• The application of DNA finger-printing to forensic science

Is this the right course for you?
Human genetics is a knowledge-driven, dynamic and exciting field. As most graduates of this programme go on to careers in research, you must should be prepared to take consider this route as a one career option.

Course overview
This course provides you with a strong base in the basic sciences of biology, chemistry and mathematics, as well as in the classical principles of genetics – molecular, population and quantitative genetics, bioinformatics and molecular evolution.
Over the four-year period of your degree programme, the course will also demonstrate the importance of studies in model organisms, especially the mouse. Seminar and tutorial programmes, organised with staff from various disciplines, are an integral part of your studies, and encompass such subjects as the interactions between genetics and the social sciences, ethics, linguistics, philosophy and law, and the general relationship between genes, society and culture.

The Freshman years
In the Junior and Senior Freshman (first two) years you will concentrate on the areas of biology, chemistry and mathematics, and will also be introduced to the principles of genetics in separate tutorials.
In each of the first two years you will take some of the same courses as Science students: biology, chemistry and mathematics in the Junior Freshman (first) year and biology modules BY2201, 2203, 2204, 2205, 2208 and 2209, chemistry and mathematics in the Senior Freshman (second) year – see page 141-143. In addition you will have a weekly genetics tutorial with faculty from the Department.

The Sophister years
In the 3rd and 4th years you will undertake specialised studies in areas such as:
• Medical genetics: includes the identification of genes causing various clinical disorders and the development of genetic and stem-cell therapies to treat them
• Neurogenetics: studies how genes control development and function of the nervous system and their influences on behaviour and psychiatric disease
• Molecular and cell biology: explores the control of gene expression and function of genes in various cellular processes, such as cell death, proliferation or differentiation
• Computer programming: provides an essential skill for this field, where large amounts of data must be analysed, and one which is easily transferable to other careers
• Population genetics and human evolution: deals with genetic variation in populations and the role of this variation in evolution, especially in humans
• Cancer genetics and mutation: studies the mechanisms of mutation and its role in cancer
Subjects are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and practical courses.
In the Senior Sophister (fourth) year, you will be able to specialise in areas of particular interest, and will carry out an original research project in an area such as: hereditary blindness, cell death, neural development, stem-cell biology, human evolution and psychiatric genetics. Specialist lecture courses include cancer genetics, genetics of vision, behavioural genetics and human evolutionary genetics.

You will be assessed by a combination of continuous assessment and end-of-year examinations.

Study abroad
At the end of the Junior Sophister (third) year, you may be able to spend the summer months working in a human genetics research laboratory. This is often in the USA, with some financial assistance provided.

Career opportunities
Many Human genetics graduates go on to study for a higher degree or to a career in research, whether in a university, research institute, or in industry. Opportunities exist in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, agricultural organisations, medical or clinical diagnostic laboratories, forensics, public health and epidemiology programmes, and in teaching. Genetic counselling is a rapidly expanding field that might also interest you. Other graduates have gone into careers such as medicine, patent law or science journalism. Even if you choose a career not directly related to the scientific subject, the skills of critical thinking and problem solving provided by the Human genetics degree will put you in high demand.

Further information
Tel: +353 1 896 1140

Last updated 9 December 2013 (Email).