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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Gain a foundation of knowledge in Genetics

Genetics is a fast moving and ever changing science. With this course you gain a foundation of the knowledge and information you require to learn more about this fascinating subject.

  • Develop a foundation for understanding the application of genetics to a range of practical examples in human and plant sciences including reproduction and health management.
  • Be able to interpret important terminology used in genetics.
  • Learn about chemicals and reactions involved in genetics.
  • Learn about DNA repair mechanisms.

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Discover the Significance of Genetics with this Foundation Course

Genetics is changing how we think about the world around us.

Genetics is important in many areas, such as plant science, animal science, nutrition, psychology, child behaviour and much more.

An understanding of genetics will be more important as we move into the future, but it can be a difficult subject to understand if you don't have a proper grasp of the fundamentals.  Grasping those fundamentals is what this course is about!

  • Learn about cellular function, traits, characteristics and heritability.
  • Understand how living organisms become what they are, how we differ from one another and from other species.
  • Our knowledge of genetics changes daily. Study this course to gain a foundation to enable you to understand more about genetics and review new studies and information as they come to learn.

Studying genetics can feel like studying another language – the biological language of genes and DNA. It is expected that you will have some prior biological study to undertake this course.

Course Structure and Content

There are 10 lessons in this course:

Lesson 1. Introduction to Genetics
  • Scope, nature and history.
  • Darwin and Mendel.
  • Mendel’s experiment.
  • Mendel’s law of segregation.
  • Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment.
  • Advances since Mendel.
  • Important genetics terminology.
Lesson 2. Cells, Organelles and Cell Division
  • Prokaryotes.
  • Eukaryotes.
  • Organelles in the cell.
  • Cell structure and function.
  • Organelles in plants - Cell wall, Vacuole, Plastids.
  • Organelles in plants and animals - plasma membrane, cytoplasm, ribosomes etc.
  • Genetic structures and materials.
  • Nucleus.
  • Nuclear envelope.
  • Nucleolus.
  • DNA.
  • Cell division – meiosis and mitosis.
  • DNA replication.
  • Four stages of Mitosis.
  • Cytokinesis.
  • Gametogenesis.
  • Gametes.
  • Meiosis 1.
  • Meoisis 2.
  • Gamete production in plants.
Lesson 3. Interaction between Chromosomes
  • Introduction.
  • Sex determination.
  • Sex chromosomes.
  • Sex linked inheritance.
  • Haemophilia example.
  • Colour blindness example.
  • Linkage and crossing over.
  • Linked genes.
  • Genetic mapping.
Lesson 4. Interaction between Genes
  • Introduction.
  • Traits and gene expression.
  • Polygenic inheritance.
  • Gene interactions.
  • Epistasis.
  • Enhancer genes.
  • Suppressor gene.
  • Incomplete dominance.
  • Codominance.
  • Lethal genes.
  • Cytoplasmic inheritance.
  • Gene expression.
  • Transcription.
  • Translation.
Lesson 5. Genetic Chemistry
  • Nucleic acids.
  • DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) Structure.
  • Double Stranded Helix.
  • Chromosomes.
  • Chromatin.
  • Chromatids.
  • Understanding the genetic code.
  • Role of proteins.
  • Transcription and translation.
  • Post translational modification.
  • Introns and exons.
  • Reading the code.
Lesson 6. Mutations
  • Introduction.
  • Chromosome mutations.
  • Insertion.
  • Inversion.
  • Duplication.
  • Translocation.
  • Nondisjunction.
  • Gene mutations.
  • Point mutations (single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).
  • Point substitution mutation.
  • Insertions.
  • Deletions.
  • Frameshift mutations.
  • Categories of gene mutations.
  • Silent mutations.
  • Missense mutations.
  • Nonsense mutations.
  • How do mutations occur.
  • Radiation.
  • Viruses or other microorganisms.
  • Chemicals.
  • Spontaneous mutations.
  • Effect of mutations.
  • Repair of mutations.
Lesson 7. DNA Repair and Recombination
  • Introduction.
  • Excision pathways.
  • Methyl directed mismatch repair.
  • SOS repair.
  • Photoreactivation (Light dependent repair).
  • Crossing over.
  • Recombination.
Lesson 8. Developmental Genetics
  • Introduction.
  • Genetics are instructions for structures.
  • Cellular organisation and differentiation.
  • Model organisms used in developmental genetics.
  • Why study developmental genetics.
  • The human genome project.
  • Birth defects.
  • Genetic advances in birth defects.
  • Gene therapy.
  • Gene therapy and cancer.
Lesson 9. Population Genetics
  • What is population genetics.
  • Genetic variation within a population.
  • How do we measure genetic variation.
  • The Hardy Weinberg law.
  • Evolutionary agents and their effect on population genetics.
  • Mutations.
  • Movement of individuals between populations.
  • Genetic drift.
  • Non-random mating.
  • Natural selection.
  • Polymorphism.
Lesson 10. Applied Genetics
  • Genetics in breeding animals.
  • Farm animal breeding.
  • Breeding pets.
  • Genetics for breeding plants.
  • Cloning plants.
  • Cloning - somatic cell nuclear transfer.
  • Modifying organisms genetically.
  • Transgenic animals.
  • Agricultural applications for transgenics.
  • Medical applications for transgenics.
  • Transgenics to modify DNA in plants.
  • Genetics in human health science.
  • Disease understanding.
  • Diagnosis of disease.
  • Genetic screening.
  • Gene therapy.
  • Pharmacogenomics.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • To acknowledge the history of modern genetics and interpret important terminology in genetics work used, specifically relating to areas of study such as plant and animal sciences, conservation of plant and animal species, agriculture, horticulture, veterinary medicine and human health sciences.
  • To develop understanding of the structures (organelles) of cells and comprehend their basic functions specifically relating to cell division.
  • To discuss the main ways features are inherited.
  • To develop knowledge of biological interactions and understand the significance of gene expression in heritability.
  • Describe chemicals and reactions involved in genetics including protein synthesis.
  • Explain the nature and management of genetic mutations.
  • Develop understanding of how DNA repair mechanisms, and recombination to understand the significance of DNA cleaving and re-joining.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of genetics to explain how variations occur in living organisms both within and beyond species.
  • Explain both the significance and dynamics of genetic variation within populations of different living organisms.
  • Describe how genetic knowledge is applied to a variety of human endeavours.

Genetics Today

Everything from agriculture and horticulture, to veterinary and human health science, is being impacted increasingly by our rapidly developing understanding of genetics. While the future may not be predictable, there is little doubt that a knowledge of genetics will lay a very good foundation for many business and employment opportunities over the coming decades.

Consider the following.

Farm Animal Breeding
Selective breeding in farm animals is centred around identifying the most desirable characteristics and breeding from those animals that display them. Traits essentially fit into five basic categories:

  1. Fitness traits: these are usually linked to reproduction such as litter size, conception rate, gestation length, survival rates of young.
  2. Production traits: these include milk yield, growth rate, feed efficiency, number of eggs.
  3. Quality traits: these include carcass composition, level of fat, meat and milk quality.
  4. Type traits: these include physical appearance such as coat colour, udder shape, number of teats in pigs.
  5. Behavioural traits: these include herding ability in sheep dogs, temperament, mothering ability.

Pet breeding
Whereas the main objective of a farm animal breeding program is to improve performance, breeding programs for pedigree cats and dogs and other pet animals has centred on how they look i.e. the phenotype. This has led to the development of over 1700 different dog breeds throughout the world. Pedigree dog breeding is big business and can generate significant amounts of money for the breeder. In recent years it has come under heavy criticism as one of the consequences of breeding for specific traits that effect appearance is that other genes may also be selected that are detrimental to the dogs health and welfare. In particular some breeds e.g. pugs and King Charles Spaniels were being breed with such shortened noses that they were having breathing problems.

Plant Breeding
Plant breeding has been practiced for thousands of years, since near the beginning of human civilization. It is essentially the manipulation of plant species in order to create desired genotypes and phenotypes for specific purposes. These days, this manipulation involves either controlled pollination, genetic engineering, or both, followed by artificial selection of progeny.

Classical plant breeding uses the planned crossing of closely or distantly related individuals to produce new crop varieties or lines with desirable properties. These may include colour, shape, disease resistance or potential yield in crop producing plants. Plants are crossbred to introduce traits/genes from one variety or line into a new genetic background.

It is now practiced worldwide by government institutions and commercial enterprises as it is believed that breeding new crops is important for ensuring food security through the development of crops suitable for their environment such as drought conditions or warmer climates.

Human Health
Genetics research has lead to an understanding of what causes disease, the diagnosis of diseases and genetic screening to identify populations that are of risk from a specific genetic disorder.

Diagnosis of disease
Genetic testing is used to diagnose many disorders such as Turner’s syndrome, Klinefelter’s syndrome and many heart and blood disorders. The diagnosis of a genetic disorder may indicate that the relatives of the affected person should be screened for the genetic defect or whether they carry the gene.

Genetic Screening
This is the use of a test to identify people who have, are predisposed to or carriers of a certain genetic disease. It can be applied at many stages of life and used for a variety of purposes.

Genetic Engineering
Changing the structure of genes, may offer possibilities to manipulate human health benefits.

How The Course Works

You can start the course at any time.

It is studied by distance learning, so you can study in the comfort of your own home. But this doesn't mean you are all alone in your studies.  Our highly qualified and friendly tutors are there to help you every step of the way.  If you have any questions at all, they are always happy to help.

Why Study With ACS

  • You can start the course at any time and study at your own pace.
  • Fit your studies around your own busy lifestyle - we provide full tutor support whilst you are studying.
  • Study where you want to - online studies offer the flexibility for you to determine where and when you study.

Enrol Today!

You can enrol on Genetics at any time.  If you have any questions or would like to know more about the course, get in touch with us today using our Free Course Counselling Service.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Alison Pearce (animal)B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Masters Degree in Ecotourism. P.G.Cert. Ed. (Science). Alison's first job was in 1982 as a stockwoman, working with pigs in Yorkshire. Within a few years she of that she was working for the University of Western Australia as a Research Technician and instructor with their school of Agricultural Science.In 1989 she moved to Melbourne University as Unit Manager and Instructor in Animal Husbandry. By the mid 1990's she moved back to England to work in Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing at Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture. Throughout her career, Alison has developed and delivered courses in veterinary nursing and animal sciences for vocational colleges and universities in Australia, New Zealand and Australia. She has built a high level of expertise and an outstanding international reputation as an expert in animal sciences.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
Cheryl McLardyA scientist, teacher, writer and animal scientist, with more than 20 years experience including: Sports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager. Cheryl has travelled widely, working in England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand; and is now based in Scotland. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Higher National Diploma in Horse Management, and a City and Guilds Teaching Certificate.

Check out our eBooks

Animal HealthUnderstand animal health issues, diseases and how identify and manage illnesses and injuries. Animals can become sick for many different reasons -diseases caused by infections, injuries, poisoning, genetic disorders, poor nutrition and other things.
Commercial HydroponicsThe Commercial Hydroponics ebook is ideal for students, professional horticulturalists and those who want to build a strong foundation knowledge in hydroponics. The commercial hydroponics ebook explains how to set up a commercial hydroponics system, including growing techniques and equipment that you will need. The topics covered in this book include an introduction to hydroponics, site considerations, alternatives, plant nutrition, nutrient film technique culture, rockwool culture, aggregate culture, other techniques, hydroponics equipment, greenhouse operation, plant culture in hydroponics, Vegetable crops, berry and other fruit crops, flower crops, other crops, managing a commercial hydroponic farm and a troubleshooting guide.
Human BiologyFor any new student of human biology, being confronted with thousands of unfamiliar words can be overwhelming. It can also be difficult to identify which words you need to learn first. This book presents words that have been carefully selected as the most important for new biology students to learn and understand. It also provides more information about each word than is often found in traditional dictionaries, giving students a more in-depth understanding of the word's meaning. The book is intended as an aid to all new students of human biology.
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsThe Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs ebook is ideal for students, professionals and home gardening enthusiasts alike. Fruit, Vegetable and Herbs provides an overview in techniques to produce food in the garden. Topics covered within this course include 1/ Food from the garden, 2/ Deciding what to grow, 3/ Successful growing, 4/ Fruits, 4-1/ Deciduous fruit trees, 4-2/ Citrus fruits, 4-3/ Tropical fruits, 4-4/ Berries, 4-5/ Nuts, 4-6/ Vine crops, 4-7/ Using produce, 5/ Vegetables, 6/ Mushrooms, 7/ Special growing techniques