Principles of Genetics

is a series of five self-paced, self-learning courses in Genetics
Cytogenetics, Mendelian Genetics, Advanced Genetics, Molecular Genetics and Medical Genetics
created by Dr Jamie Love
popular among advanced high school (including home school) and university students, teachers and even doctors!
The "point" of Principles of Genetics is that the student can progress as far as s/he wishes.

Although intended for university-level studies, Principles of Genetics assumes only a minor amount of prior knowledge (only basic biology, chemistry and math), so it can be enjoyed by anyone interested in learning Genetics. A variety of educational methods are used including Study Guides, self-guided Workshops and plenty of Self Assessment Questions. Each course ends with a computerized, self-evaluation exam composed of 20 questions answered by multiple choice providing instant feedback and computer scoring. The student is also encouraged to visit recommended websites to learn more.
These courses were created by Dr Jamie Love (PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) who has over twenty years experience teaching Genetics and conducting research in genetics. Dr Love is also an expert on self-learning, having created two other self-learning "hypertextbooks", been instrumental in producing other materials for distance learners, earned his MBA via distance learning and was awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education with an emphasis in computer-based education (creating "A Web-based Self-study Program Teaching Evolution" as part of his requirements).


The syllabus, the entire first course, Cytogenetics, and small portions of the other courses, are available free for you to enjoy and study. After completing Cytogenetics, take the Cytogenetics exam!
You can own all five courses Cytogenetics, Mendelian Genetics, Advanced Genetics, Molecular Genetics and Medical Genetics for only $40!
The Frequently Asked Questions tells you more about the course, exams, the teacher, etc. Or you can scroll down to view a summary of each course with its Learning Outcomes.

These five courses are designed so that you can advance to the level that meets your goals. Here is an overview and explanation of the five courses.

Cytogenetics is a fundamental course comprising six lessons. High school or Freshman university students find that Cytogenetics mixes well with Introductory Biology courses offered at most schools. However, Dr Love goes into much more detail to build a base upon which to understand the subsequent Genetics courses. There is one workshop in Cytogenetics and the math is no more complicated than multiplying or dividing a number by two. The student is encouraged to print and fill in the Student's Study Guide as s/he progresses through each lesson and then check it against the Teacher's Guide (which has the blanks filled). There are 33 Self Assessment Questions (with 33 Self Assessment Answers). Like all these courses there is a computerized, self-administered exam at the end of the course to test the student's newly acquired knowledge.

    Learning Outcomes for Cytogenetics
    After completion of this course the student will be able to:
  1. list and identify the stages of mitosis and meiosis, as well as the cell cycle, and explain the significance of each.
  2. compare and contrast mitosis and meiosis with particular attention to chromosome movements and definitions of haploid and diploid.
  3. understand the basic structure and function of chromosomes and how they relate to medicine and evolution.
  4. compare and contrast sexual and asexual reproduction as well understand alternation of generations.

Mendelian Genetics, the second course, is also often covered in Introductory Biology courses. Here the student will be introduced to the most important principles of inheritance and learn how to solve genetic "puzzles" using logical deduction and diagrams (called "Punnett squares"). The first workshop is broken into three different pieces and walks the student through increasingly more complicated Mendelian Genetic puzzles. Math skills in this part of the course are limited to ratios and simple fractions. The last lesson in Mendelian Genetics is the chi square and it is followed by a chi square workshop. This is the most important statistical test commonly used in Genetics (and many other areas of research). For most students, this is the first time they will use "advanced" math skills to find answers, so Dr Love walks the student through this process step-by-step. There are only five lessons in Mendelian Genetics and, as before, the student is encouraged to fill in the blanks of the Study Guide. This course has 28 SAQs and, as always, an exam at the end.

    Learning Outcomes for Mendelian Genetics
    After completion of this course the student will be able to:
  1. understand Mendel's first and second laws and how they relate to cytogenetics.
  2. predict the outcome of crosses including the use of the Punnett square.
  3. apply chi square analysis to those predictions.
  4. design and explain an experiment that uses test crosses to determine genotypes.

Advanced Genetics is composed of seven lessons that form a collection of important subjects often taught in Freshman Biology courses. After the lesson on Hardy-Weinberg there is a Hardy-Weinberg workshop. Like the chi square in the previous course, Dr Love walks the student through the process both in the standard lesson and in the workshop. Each lesson has a Study Guide. The course has 35 SAQs, and, of course an exam finishes this course.

    Learning Outcomes for Advanced Genetics
    After completion of this course the student will be able to:
  1. explain the chromosomal basis of sex determination and apply that understanding to predict the sex of individuals with normal and abnormal complements of sex chromosomes.
  2. define sex-linked characteristics and describe their transmission.
  3. differentiate between sex-linked and sex-influenced characteristics.
  4. compare and contrast incomplete dominance and co-dominance and predict their modes of inheritance.
  5. describe and explain multiple alleles, multiple loci and multiple effects of a single gene.
  6. understand the basis for cytoplasmic inheritance and how it differs from Mendelian genetics.
  7. draw and use pedigrees to display and understand the pattern of single gene inheritance as well as predict relatedness.
  8. analyze a population using the Hardy-Weinberg equation.

Having completed these first three courses (Cytogenetics, Mendelian Genetics and Advanced Genetics) the student will have completed the equivalent of a university level Freshman course in Genetics but a little weak on the molecular side of things - and that is why there is the fourth course!

Molecular Genetics topics are sometimes covered in an Introductory course but this course in Molecular Genetics teaches more details and prepares the student to learn more so as to understand this exciting area of research and technology. This course in Molecular Genetics would be equivalent to a Sophomore (or higher) university level course so there are some important differences between this course and the previous three courses.
First, there are no workshops because that format is not useful in this setting. Instead, there are 74 SAQs.
Second, it is assumed that the student has an understanding of "descriptive chemistry". That is, the student should feel comfortable with the idea of molecules and structures.
Third, the six lessons in Molecular Genetics (each with its own Study Guide) are much longer than previous lessons. Each lesson in Molecular Genetics would amount to several hours of lectures presented over the course of a week. Dr Love decided to stick with a broader lesson group - the six "lessons" - because breaking them up along the way would have made for some "messy" splits and lose the consistency that is useful in each topic (lesson). However, to help the student work through these "mega-lessons", Jamie provides breaks along the way and hyperlinks to each "chunk" of information.

    Learning Outcomes for Molecular Genetics
    After completion of this course the student will be able to:
  1. describe the basis upon which we link molecular genetics to earlier (non-molecular) genetics.
  2. describe and understand the structure of DNA and RNA, their "subunits" and how they differ.
  3. describe how DNA is duplicated, how DNA is transcribed into RNA and how RNA is translated into proteins.
  4. understand the Genetic Code and how to translate a nucleic acid sequence into an amino acid sequence.
  5. understand the structure and details of prokaryotic DNA duplication including details of DNA polymerase.
  6. describe the three ways bacteria can exchange genes as well as understand restriction endonucleases.
  7. understand the details of transcription control in prokaryotes as illustrated by three different operons.
  8. understand the molecular structure of eukaryotic chromosomes and repetitive DNA.
  9. provide an overview of viruses that infect eukaryotes.
  10. understand eukaryotic transcription control via the participating transcription factors, promoters and silencers.
  11. appreciate the various types of genes and control mechanisms in eukaryotes.
  12. understand methylation and its function in chromosome inactivation and gene imprinting.
  13. describe eukaryotic posttranscriptional processing, initiation of translation and posttranslational modifications.
  14. contrast and compare the molecular genetics (structure and control) of prokaryote versus eukaryote genes.

Medical Genetics is very different from previous courses because the lessons are for a different type of student and different type of course. These lessons are derived from the Medical Genetics course Dr Love taught to medical students at a medical school! ( ) All those students had passed undergraduate courses, including Genetics, so they had a genetics education similar to what the student would have learned from the previous four courses. However, due to the amount of information they are expected to assimilate, Medical Genetics (like most medical courses) is very "high density". There is no "hand holding" and students are expected to digest complex materials presented in a succinct manner. Also, the goal of Medical Genetics is to provide the student a foundation on which to understand more advanced courses (such as Pathology, Obstetrics and Pediatrics). Another, goal is to prepare the student to pass the United States Medical License Exams (USMLEs)
Unlike the previous materials, there are no Student Guides to fill in and no series of Questions and Answers. Instead, Dr Love has rewritten his Medical Genetics Notes into a series of "lessons". "Lecture notes" are the life-blood of a medical student.
Dr Love decided to include Part Five as an "add on" to the other courses for several reasons. Medical Genetics starts with a fast-paced review of material so it provides and excellent summary. And it provides an opportunity to include additional information that the student will find interesting, such as common techniques in molecular and cytogenetics, as well as information that some Genetics teachers might feel was left out earlier (such as linkage analysis). Importantly, the student will get a feel for how genetics is applied!
Think of this course in Medical Genetics as "extra credit".

    Learning Outcomes for Medical Genetics
    After completion of this course the student will be able to:
  1. reinforce basic genetic concepts learned in previous courses.
  2. correctly answer genetics questions on the United States Medical License Exams.
  3. understand and describe standard cytogenetic methods well enough to appreciate their uses and limitations.
  4. briefly describe common molecular genetic techniques well enough to appreciate their uses and limitations.
  5. understand genetic linkage and mapping well enough to appreciate their uses and limitations.
  6. appreciate the significance of genetic variation (such as blood typing and tissue matching) and population genetics in medicine.
  7. explain the causes and general pathology of all common chromosomal abnormalities.
  8. explain the causes and general pathology of most common single-gene disorders.
  9. draw, understand and interpret pedigrees.
  10. appreciate the complexity and understand the concept of relative risk in multfactorial disorders.
  11. understand the basic genetic foundation of pathologies involved in many disorders that will be taught in subsequent medical courses (metabolic and structural disorders, hemoglobinopathies, immunology and oncology).
  12. understand the basic genetic foundation upon which treatments might be available.
  13. use knowledge of all the above to provide genetic counselling (in a hypothetical situation).

The "point" of Principles of Genetics is that the student can progress as far as s/he wishes.
You can own all five courses for only $40!
Enjoy the free sample online or simply download the Sample Principles of Genetics and give it a try. This way you can test your ability to handle the download as well as see how how the course runs on your computer.
Note: this course is an HTML web-program, not an "app". This course will not run from an iPhone or other "smart" phone. It only runs from your computer's hard drive.
The Frequently Asked Questions tells you more about the course, exams, the teacher, etc.