UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Industrial Synthetic Biology

Course Code
Level MSc
Credits 15 credits
Module Tutor
Dr Darren Nesbeth
Two in-course tests (20%)
Two-hour examination (80%)


Students will acquire knowledge of industrial applications of Synthetic Biology and understand how these arise from interdisciplinary research. The linkage of information from different biological contexts to build and design new elements, pathways, cells and systems will be explored in detail.

Learning Outcomes

Following completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • effectively navigate and select standardised biological parts from online repositories such as the BioBrick Registry
  • understand the role of DNA editing and analysis software such as ApE and 4Peaks in the construction of standardised biological devices
  • devise Synthetic Biology solutions to bioprocessing challenges at a high level of experimental detail design host cells as platforms or chassis to supplant some of the current downstream processing steps for the production of therapeutics in industry.
  • design pathways de novo, using online genome data resources, for the production of high value/chiral chemicals
  • take the acquired expertise into industry to work as developers of standardised bio-based solutions alongside life scientist in real biomanufacturing companies.

Learning Hours


Lectures: 30h
Seminars/ problem classes/ tutorials: 30h


Engineering Biology Introduction to standardised approaches to recombinant DNA
technology; Exploration advantages and disadvantages of selected different standards/formats.
Building Biology: Chells, Synthia Advances in custom DNA synthesis and biophysics enabling development of artificial and synthetic cells
Re-designing biology: Minimal genomes, orthogonal genetic codes. Introduction to the development of genome reduction and re-coding tools and potential industrial benefits and new technologies
Re-designing biology: Metabolic Engineering Biological concepts underlying metabolic engineering in research and commercial settings. Introduction to research methods such as navigation and utilisation of KEGG and EcoCyc online datasets
Synthetic Gene Networks Introduction the underlying biology and mathematics of synthetic gene networks
Industrial challenges, synbio solutions Detailed review of commercial examples of the deployment of Synthetic Biology to meet industrial challenges