1st semester of Molecular Techniques in Life Science – Part I

Happy New Year!

Today is the sixth of January, I am sure that everyone of you has enjoyed the long winter break and fully prepare for the coming Monday! For the prospective students, it is (unfortunately) time to start/fine-tune application documents, and prioritize choices on universityadmission.se after thoughtful consideration. To help you with the critical decision-making process, I summarize the events in the first semester of Master Programme of Molecular Techniques in Life Science based on my first-hand, personal experience. Hope that it might be useful to you ^_^

As you can find in our programme website https://www.kth.se/en/studies/master/molecular-techniques-life-science/course-overview-1.501285, the first semester comprises of four courses: Genetics, Applied communication of life science, Frontier in translation medicine and Frontier in life science. It takes place predominately at Karolinska Institute:

Main campus of Karolinska at September, during lunch break

(Photo from my classmate Carolina)

1. Genetics (by Peter Salvolainen at Science for Life Laboratory)

The content of Genetics is based on the book Fundamental Genetics (John Ringo), which starts from the structure of DNA and ends with quantitative genetics. The design of the course is that every student, no matter which background he/she comes from, will build a solid foundation for the future study after this course. As you may see , we have a diverse academic background:

Therefore, for my classmates from engineering, they will be equipped with a sufficient understanding in genetics; while for students like me, it is a rather a good opportunity to consolidate what I had acquired from my bachelor degree and correct some misconceptions.

In particular, I would like to talk a bit about our course teach Peter Salvolainen, a evolutional geneticist who works at both KTH and Science for Life Laboratory. In Stockholm, there is no one more suitable for teaching genetics than Peter: Peter’s group holds the world-leading position in identification of evolutionary origin of canines. Peter has a unique style in teaching: he never wastes time in flipping across numerous powerpoints; instead, he put emphasis on only the important themes, practical problems confronted by geneticists and discussion with students. In order to pass his course, we have to not only sit a 4-hour written exam, but also to show thorough understanding and keen participation in the two seminars about current topics in genetics. Grades range from A (the best) to F (fail).

For more details about the course Genetics, welcome to read Carolina’s blog Course Review: Genetics (MTLS) at STUDENT BLOGS FROM KAROLINSKA INSTITUTET.

2. Applied communication in life science (Karolinska Institutet)

The course is made up of 4 parts, namely Poster Presentation, Scientific Writing, Bioethics and Rhetorics.  Grades are either pass or fail. 

Karolinska’s pingpong.ki.se where all course information are available for current students

Poster Presentation and Scientific Writing

These 2 courses took place at Karolinska from September to October, each lasted for only 2 hours X 3 times = 6 hours. The purpose of these two courses is to strengthen our academic writing and poster production skills in English. As I completed my bachelor degree in English, I find these two courses less challenging. However, they might be very helpful for students from non-English speaking regions.


“The technology is already there; to do or not to do, that is the question.”

Science and technologies, especially those in the field of regenerative medicine, sequencing and gene technology, advance robustly in the past few decades, but does the development in ethics aspect keep abreast with them?

From October to December, there are one or two lecture in bioethics in every two weeks. The teaching does not rely on any textbooks; it is rather a discussion-based seminar in which students and teacher held case study of a lot of examples. At the end of this course, students are required to submit a round 1200-word argumentative essay analyzing a specific topic in bioethics. For me, the course really invokes my critical thinking and should be a lesson to every future scientist.


No one would deny that mastery of rhetorics skills are essential for researchers; at the same time, everyone would admit that these skills are hard to be improved in a short time. At the end of November, we had a whole week in rhetorics, the intensive training of public speaking skills.

Our course teacher is Peter Lind, who holds phD from philosophy and language instead of science in Uppsala University. We have already a small class, but Peter divided us into two smaller groups, so that we could have sufficient time to give feedback to each other: speech volume, pace, choice of words, use of media……Peter gave “personalized” solution to each of us: he helped us to identify our strengths and weaknesses and ultimately found out the most suitable way of presentation for each of us.

A section of Rhetorics, my classmate Charlotte presented a poem in front of the class

(To be continue at The first semester of Molecular Techniques in Life Science - Part II)

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