Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse – Københavns Universitet

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Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse

RNA Biology

Practical information
Study year 2016/2017
Block 1
Programme level Full Degree Master
Course responsible
  • Peter Brodersen (10-5446767368697677697244666d73326f7932686f)
  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Course number: NBIK10017U

Course content

During the first 6 weeks, central topics in RNA research will be introduced in overview lectures. Topics include microRNAs, the RNA world, ribozymes, RNA-binding proteins, RNA therapeutics, and computational resources for RNA biology. Time is also reserved for group work and invited lectures with leading RNA Biology researchers from Danish universities and biotech firms. The project work is in groups of 3 students. Each group will do a small literature project on a subject related to RNA biology (approx. 6 pages). The subjects of the essays are outlined in advance by the teachers and students should choose a subject that they find of particular importance and interest. Essay supervision by the teachers will be scheduled and consists of 2 x 30 min during the 6 weeks. All the finished essays will be collected in a compendium, which will serve as curriculum for the exam. Two weeks are reserved for preparation to the exam, during which the groups will meet and answer question on their project from the other students.


Learning outcome

Life originated from an RNA world and RNA continues to play a central role in most key aspects of cellular life. The course will cover some of the basic properties of RNA relating to structure, folding, protein binding and catalysis with special emphasis on functions of RNA related to human health. The course will also give students a thorough introduction to new aspects of RNA biology stemming from the recently discovered pervasive transcription of genomes into different kinds of untranslated RNAs (also known as ncRNAs). Other important elements of the course are invited lectures with leading Danish scientists in the field and the writing of a short essay on a selected RNA topic.


At the conclusion of the course, the students should be able to:

  • Understand the principles of RNA structure and discuss how the structure relate to function.
  • Outline the biogenesis and functions of mRNAs, miRNAs, snoRNAs, rRNAs, tRNAs, long noncoding RNAs and discuss the functional relevance of these different RNAs.
  • Discuss the mechanisms and therapeutic potential of antisense drugs targeting RNAs.
  • Give examples of how RNA Biology is applied in academic and commercial research.


At the conclusion of the course, the students should be able to:

  • Identify relevant articles from the primary literature to a given subject related to RNA Biology.
  • Write a short and concise essay on a subject within RNA Biology, which will allow fellow students to understand the key points.
  • Apply computational tools for RNA folding and be able to use miRNA and miRNA target databases.


At the conclusion of the course, the students should be able to:

  • Identify and communicate key points on a subject within RNA Biology and present these in written and oral form.
  • Formulate questions to and give constructive feedback on projects presented by other students.

Recommended prerequisites

The course is open to students at the master’s level and others with a relevant biological background such as students in their final year at the bachelor level.

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MSc Programme in Bioinformatics
MSc Programme in Biochemistry
MSc Programme in Biology
MSc Programme in Molecular Biomedicine


Study Board of Biomolecular Sciences and Technology

Course type

Single subject courses (day)


Jan Christiansen, Henrik Nielsen.


1 block


---- SKEMA LINK ----

Teaching and learning methods

See Content.


Minimum number of participants is 12 and maximum 42.




See Absalon.


Category Hours
Exam 0,5
Preparation 126,5
Lectures 26
Colloquia 9
Project work 40
Theory exercises 3
Guidance 1
English 206,0


Type of assessment

Written assignment
Oral examination, 30 min.
Each student is required to write an essay in collaboration with 2 other students. All the essays will be collected in an compendium.

The exam is oral for each student individually and consists of a short presentation/discussion of one essay randomly chosen from the compendium (typically this part of the curriculum is 8-10 different essays). Next the student will get some questions to the essay that the student wrote together with his/her group, followed by questions in the topics covered in the Meister RNA Biology textbook. These questions will not relate to specific details such as the names of protein etc., but rather be focused on concepts and overall mechanisms.

The written essay will count 1/3 and the oral examination 2/3 of the final grade.

Marking scale

7-point grading scale

Criteria for exam assessment

The grade 12 reflects an excellent performance with a high level of command of the relevant material with no or only a few minor weaknesses. The relevant material is the essay written by the student's group, essays written by other groups and concepts and overall mechanisms from the textbook.

Censorship form

No external censorship
Several internal examiners


Same as the ordinary.
The essay must be handed in prior to the reexam.
The essay from the ordinary exam can be handed in again.

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