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2nd Floor, New Science Building, University of East Anglia, Norwich

* * This course contributes to the Royal Society of Biology's Technical Skills Certificate


DNA is a linear polymer of four units called nucleotides, ‘A', ‘C', ‘G', and ‘T'. The sequence of these nucleotides, there may be thousands or millions in a single molecule, is the key to DNA's function as the molecule that stores genetic information.
In this course you will learn some important methods used to analyse DNA. You will:

  1. Determine the concentration of a DNA sample using spectrophotometry.
  2. Amplify a section of a DNA molecule using a technique called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), which can make many copies from a single starting molecule.
  3. Analyse your PCR product using agarose gel electrophoresis, which separates DNA molecules and can be used to determine their size. 
In spectrophotometry, light of a specific wavelength is passed through a solution of molecules. If the molecules absorb that wavelength, the amount of light absorbed will be proportional to the concentration of the molecules. We will use a spectrophotometer to measure the light absorbed by a DNA solution and determine its concentration. 

In PCR, two short DNA molecules (‘primers') that bind to specific DNA sequences are used to prime DNA synthesis. By carefully designing the primers and carrying out multiple cycles of synthesis, many product DNA molecules can be made. The number of DNA molecules can be increased a million-fold in less than two hours. This technique is critical in biological research, disease diagnosis and forensic science. We will set up PCRs to amplify a bacterial antibiotic resistance gene.

In gel electrophoresis, molecules migrate through a matrix when an electric field is applied. Smaller molecules tend to migrate faster than larger molecules, and migration distance can be used to estimate molecular size. We will use agarose gel electrophoresis to determine whether your PCR has produced a DNA product and to estimate its size.


The purpose of the course is to offer practical experience of DNA analysis, with the over-arching aims to:
  • Learn about some of the key techniques used in DNA analysis: spectrophotometry, PCR and gel electrophoresis. 
  • Learn about important equipment used for DNA analysis.
  • Learn some of the practical methods and protocols used to analyse DNA.

Who is the course for?

This course is for individuals with an interest in life sciences who wish to learn how to analyse DNA. No prior knowledge of spectrophotometry, PCR and gel electrophoresis is required.

What will you gain from the course?

  • You will learn how to use a spectrophotometer.
  • You will learn how to perform PCR.
  • You will learn how to perform agarose gel electrophoresis.
  • You will learn to understand and use data generated by a spectrophotometer.
  • You will learn how to analyse the results of agarose gel electrophoresis.
  • Handy summary resources and protocols to take home

Course tutor(s)

Your course tutors will be Dr Mark Coleman and Dr Maria Vardakou. 

Dr Mark Coleman is an Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at UEA. Mark has a BSc and a PhD in Biochemistry, both from Imperial College London, and a research background in molecular biology, genetics and microbiology, with a particular emphasis on the interactions of plants and microbes. Mark is Course Director for UEA's Biological Sciences degree programme, organises two modules (‘Molecular Biology and Genetics' and ‘Plant Biotechnology'), and delivers lectures and leads practicals and seminars across the academic years. 

Dr Maria Vardakou is an Associate Professor in Biochemistry and Biomedicine. Dr Vardakou completed a MEng in Chemical Engineering and has PhD in Enzymology. Throughout her research career, Maria focused on the analysis of enzymes (proteins) completing various protein engineering projects. Maria worked as a researcher in various Research Institutes including the John Innes Centre and the Institute of Food Research (now Quadram Institute) that are part of the Norwich Research Park, in Norwich. A major interest has always been elucidating the relationship between structure and function of these amazing biomolecules we call proteins. In 2015, Maria joined the School of Biological Sciences at UEA as a lecturer. Since then, her main activities involve teaching and supporting undergraduate students in the school of Biological Sciences. Maria leads several practical lab sessions and teaches across all years on the topics of Biochemistry and Biomedicine. She has recently been appointed Director of Learning and Teaching for the school of Biological Sciences.


The laboratories and building is fully accessible and there are chairs and moveable benches available in the lab. The university can also provide the use of electronic pipettes if your dexterity is impaired. If you have questions surrounding this, please contact the training team.

Technical skills and continuing professional development

This practical based course contributes to the RSB Technical Skills certificate, which can support applications to our professional registers. 
This course is approved for purposes of CPD, and attendees will receive a certificate of attendance and 9 CPD points.


** Early bird additional 10% discount on course fees available until 15th June

Members - £160 + VAT
Members of Member Organisations, SCAS members - £240 + VAT
Non-members - £320 + VAT

Non-members who have completed a membership application and made payment - £160 + 20% VAT - get in touch with to access this rate.

If you or your organisation wishes to book staff in bulk for this course, please get in touch. 


For further information about the course please contact Emily Lunn, training and registers officer at or on 020 3925 3447.


Unfortunately, the Royal Society of Biology is unable to offer refunds on training courses that have been attended. We do, of course, welcome and encourage any feedback from a course and will continue to improve the service we offer.

Terms and Conditions

By booking to attend this event, you are confirming you have agreed to the RSB's Terms and Conditions which can be found here.