Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


Genes are the backbone of life, and plant improvement is based on the knowledge of applied genetics and supported by modern biotechnologies. This unit allows students to extend their knowledge and interest in genetics in the applied field of plant improvement and biotechnology. Whether the focus of study is in genetic conservation in native plants or genetic improvement in domesticated plants and animals, the principles are the same. The unit provides a very sound foundation in evolutionary genetics theory and principles that are applicable to any genetic system. Students also study biotechnologies that support modern breeding programs, and at the conclusion of the unit, are able to make sound judgements on the value of 'traditional' plant breeding, genetic engineering or molecular genetic markers in crop improvement.

6 points

Students are able to (1) make sound judgements on how to apply breeding and biotechnological methods to plant improvement; (2) communicate in written and oral form their understanding of a real life example of plant breeding; (3) critically appraise the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to plant breeding and biotechnology, and their relevance to different crops; and (4) demonstrate awareness of scientific methodology for understanding genetic systems in written reports from practical sessions.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) examination; (2) practical reports; and (3) seminar. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor William Erskine
Unit rules
enrolment in
the Master of Agricultural Science (72510)
or the Master of Biotechnology (71580)
or Bachelor of Science (Honours) (BH004) (HON-BOTNY) Botany
or (HON-CONBI) Conservation Botany
AGRI4404 Breeding and Animal Biotechnology, GENE3303 Genetics and Animal Breeding, GENE8303 Genetics and Animal Breeding, GENE3310 Genetics and Plant Breeding, GENE8310 Genetics and Plant Breeding
Advisable prior study
GENE2250 Principles of Inheritance or equivalent
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
practicals: 3 hours per week for 12 weeks
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.