Virtual Genetics Education Centre

Case studies

In order to achieve the most from these case studies, the "Introduction to epigenetics" page should be first reviewed to give an overview of epigenetics, disease and potential therapeutics in the future. Although some of the information in the introduction is covered again in each of the case studies, the introduction page is in significantly greater detail and will help when you attempt each of the assignments.

Helpful hints for students

  • Evaluate where the source is from. Is it reliable? Who have written it? What is their purpose for writing it?
  • Read this question! Each of these assignments are meant to highlight different social, legal, economic and ethical issues that arise from the field of epigenetics. There may be more or less of each of these issues in each of the case studies but there are definitely issues in each and these should be the main focus of your proposals.
  • Be succinct: these assignments are not meant for you discuss everything you know in the subject area. Highlight the main points, keeping in mind the specific question the assignment is tackling.
  • Do you need to do further research? Each of the resources given should be sufficient to answer each of the assignments and you are not specifically expected to use additional material. However for undergraduate students, in order to increase your understanding about the field of epigenetics, you may find it helpful to read either the full resource if only the abstract is given or find other material that will supplement your learning. If this is case, the resources given should act as a framework of the ideas needed to complete the assignment.
  • Remember your audience. The target audience of each of the assignments differs and includes the Minister of Health, trustees of a non-governmental organisation or the general public. Each of these will have different level of understanding of epigenetics so you should remember that they should be appropriate for the level of understanding of your audience; non-specialist language may be appropriate in certain instances.
  • Provide evidence for your assertions i.e. make reference to ideas/concepts, empirical data etc. This does not mean if asked about the financial implications of your proposal that you need to have a detailed breakdown as to the costs but you should give an indication as to the scale required of the proposals.
  • Come to a valid conclusion- each of the resources should be evaluated for their opinion but this does not necessarily mean they have the correct answer. In order to come to a valid conclusion, you must evaluate each perspective in a balanced way; it may be useful here to compare and contrast each resource.
  • Try to stick to the introduction-discussion-conclusion format in your assignment i.e set the context and outline the structure of your argument, cover all the relevant material and then summarise your findings/proposals based on the sources you have used. This will ensure you have a clear and logical argument.

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