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Department of Mathematics & Statistics

QGEN401 Quantitative Genetics and Improvement

Second Semester
20 points

Paper Details

This paper is designed to equip students with industry-ready skills for analysing data sets typically encountered in primary sector breeding, medical genetics and conservation genetics. A grounding in basic statistical methods and their applications is crucial for both research and understanding the scientific literature in applications of quantitative genetics.

The following topics will be covered:

Students will be introduced to underpinning statistical concepts in each of these areas, and their implementation in software such as R, as well as dedicated software packages. Assignments will consist of exercises involving analyses of real data sets.

Potential Students

This course is available to 4th Year students with strong undergraduate backgrounds in genetics, statistics and/or mathematics. Students with an interest in applications of quantitative methods in primary sector breeding, medical genetics or conservation genetics, are encouraged to apply. This paper is compulsory for the MAppSci(QGEN), for which scholarships are available.

Required Text

There are no required texts, but students are encouraged to take particular note of the following references:




Expected Workload

This is a 20 point paper, students are therefore expected to a total of approximately 18 hours (including lectures and field trip). Some self-directed learning may also be required, for students to familiarize themselves with basic concepts of either statistics or genetics.


Assessment consists of both Internal Assessment and a Final exam.

Internal assessments will consist of assignments based on class exercises, set periodically throughout the semester. Internal assessments are worth a total of 70% of final grade, and the remaining 30% from the final exam, with the requirement that students achieve at least 50% in the final exam. The format for the final exam will be a two-hour written answer exam, and includes some calculations.

Final mark

Your final mark F in the paper will be calculated according to this formula:

F = (0.7*A) + (0.3*E)


and all quantities are expressed as percentages.

Students must abide by the University’s Academic Integrity Policy

Academic integrity means being honest in your studying and assessments. It is the basis for ethical decision-making and behaviour in an academic context. Academic integrity is informed by the values of honesty, trust, responsibility, fairness, respect and courage.

Academic misconduct is seeking to gain for yourself, or assisting another person to gain, an academic advantage by deception or other unfair means. The most common form of academic misconduct is plagiarism.

Academic misconduct in relation to work submitted for assessment (including all course work, tests and examinations) is taken very seriously at the University of Otago.

All students have a responsibility to understand the requirements that apply to particular assessments and also to be aware of acceptable academic practice regarding the use of material prepared by others. Therefore it is important to be familiar with the rules surrounding academic misconduct at the University of Otago; they may be different from the rules in your previous place of study.

Any student involved in academic misconduct, whether intentional or arising through failure to take reasonable care, will be subject to the University’s Student Academic Misconduct Procedures which contain a range of penalties.

If you are ever in doubt concerning what may be acceptable academic practice in relation to assessment, you should clarify the situation with your lecturer before submitting the work or taking the test or examination involved.

Types of academic misconduct are as follows:


The University makes a distinction between unintentional plagiarism (Level One) and intentional plagiarism (Level Two).

  • Although not intended, unintentional plagiarism is covered by the Student Academic Misconduct Procedures. It is usually due to lack of care, naivety, and/or to a lack to understanding of acceptable academic behaviour. This kind of plagiarism can be easily avoided.
  • Intentional plagiarism is gaining academic advantage by copying or paraphrasing someone elses work and presenting it as your own, or helping someone else copy your work and present it as their own. It also includes self-plagiarism which is when you use your own work in a different paper or programme without indicating the source. Intentional plagiarism is treated very seriously by the University.

Unauthorised Collaboration

Unauthorised Collaboration occurs when you work with, or share work with, others on an assessment which is designed as a task for individuals and in which individual answers are required. This form does not include assessment tasks where students are required or permitted to present their results as collaborative work. Nor does it preclude collaborative effort in research or study for assignments, tests or examinations; but unless it is explicitly stated otherwise, each students answers should be in their own words. If you are not sure if collaboration is allowed, check with your lecturer..


Impersonation is getting someone else to participate in any assessment on your behalf, including having someone else sit any test or examination on your behalf.


Falsification is to falsify the results of your research; presenting as true or accurate material that you know to be false or inaccurate.

Use of Unauthorised Materials

Unless expressly permitted, notes, books, calculators, computers or any other material and equipment are not permitted into a test or examination. Make sure you read the examination rules carefully. If you are still not sure what you are allowed to take in, check with your lecturer.

Assisting Others to Commit Academic Misconduct

This includes impersonating another student in a test or examination; writing an assignment for another student; giving answers to another student in a test or examination by any direct or indirect means; and allowing another student to copy answers in a test, examination or any other assessment.

Further information

While we strive to keep details as accurate and up-to-date as possible, information given here should be regarded as provisional. Individual lecturers will confirm teaching and assessment methods.