Human Genetics Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Human Genetics?

Genetics is the study of genes and heredity and genetic variation, including how genes become mutated or are involved in disease and aging.

Human Genetics is the study of how different qualities, called traits, are passed down from parent to child. Genetics helps explain what makes you unique, why family members look alike, and why some diseases run in families. When we trace the paths of these qualities, we are following packages of information called genes.

Geneticists study the inheritance of traits. They may focus on these events at the molecular, organism, or population level. Many environmental geneticists try to understand how environmental factors or exposures interact with genes to cause disease.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Human Genetics courses in the following subject areas:

  • Genetics – The study of genes, heredity, and genetic variation. 
  • Fundamentals of Human Molecular Genetics – The study of human genetics, molecular pathology of diseases, and treatment and prevention strategies.
  • CK 405 Genetics – The study of modern genetics within the departments of Biochemistry, Microbiology, Zoology, Ecology, and Plant Science, and Medicine and Health.
  • Human Genetics and Health Issues – The study of DNA, how genes function, genetic diseases, the Human Genome Project, and some of the biological, medical, and ethical issues surrounding research into genes.

Studying Human Genetics in college

There are many Human Genetics courses that take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification. You could also consider work experience or work placements in the laboratory or field that may increase your chances of finding genetics-related work. It’s also useful to build up knowledge of the range of techniques used in the area.

It is a good idea to gain some experience within the industry as well as academia so you can compare the two and decide which you prefer. Temporary work within a healthcare environment, for example in a hospital, may also prove useful in helping you explore career ideas. Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Human Genetics you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of Genetics and Biology.

 A genetics degree can lead to a career in health, scientific research, or industry and also provides a range of skills that can be used in many other sectors. You will typically work as part of a multidisciplinary team that includes specialist medical and nursing staff such as clinical geneticists, molecular geneticists, and clinical scientists.

Many careers relating to genetics are based in health services, so employers tend to be hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and universities. Opportunities within food and drink companies, the health and beauty care industry, and research and consultancy companies are also available.

There are also opportunities in industries related to biological sciences available, such as biotechnology, biomedical research, agricultural and horticultural, conservation, and environmental assessment. It is also possible to use your skills in fields like teaching, business, finance, and retail.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. The hours are usually full-time, Monday to Friday. Start and finish times may be flexible depending on the position you take. You may need to do some out-of-hours work when necessary to meet deadlines on projects.

Related jobs include:

  • Academic researcher
  • Clinical research associate
  • Clinical scientist
  • Genetic counselor
  • Pharmacologist
  • Geneticist
  • Research scientist
  • Biotechnologist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Forensic scientist
  • Medical sales representative
  • Physician associate
  • Scientific laboratory technician
  • Science writer

Further study

After completing a course in Human Genetics you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as medical and molecular genetics, immunology, and pharmacology.


Are there different branches of Human Genetics?

Human Genetics can be broken down into several overlapping fields such as classical genetics, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, biochemical genetics, genomics, population genetics, developmental genetics, clinical genetics, and genetic counseling. 

Why is Human Genetics important?

Human genetic research can reveal information about an individual’s susceptibility to disease and hence about the individual’s future health and allows medical professionals to take appropriate action in good time. Understanding genetic factors and genetic disorders is important in learning more about promoting health and preventing disease.

What skills could be helpful for a career in Human Genetics?

Employers within the Human Genetics field are interested in the broader skills such as recording, analysis, and interpretation of masses of scientific data, logical thinking, numeracy and computing skills, awareness of current issues and ethical debates, communication skills including report writing and making presentations, time management, problem-solving, self-reliance and initiative, business awareness, teamwork, and strong interpersonal skills.

Skills in scientific protocol, biological research, and laboratory practice will all be very helpful if you intend to pursue a career in a genetics-related job.

Where can I study Human Genetics?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· More than 99% of our genes are the same from one person to the next. In other words, the diversity we see within the human population—including traits like eye color, height, and blood type—is due to genetic differences that account for less than 1%.

· Around 5-8% of your DNA isn’t human – it’s viral DNA. Scientists believe we carry about 100,000 pieces of DNA from retroviruses that have accumulated throughout human evolution.

· Humans have approximately 10 trillion cells. If we unraveled our entire DNA, it would stretch six billion miles – which would be the same as traveling from the Earth to the sun 65 times.

· Cephalopods like squids, cuttlefish, and octopuses are incredibly intelligent and wily creatures—so much so that they can rewrite the genetic information in their neurons.

· Although rare, it is possible for a person to have two completely different DNA profiles – a phenomenon known as a chimaera.

Mariza Halliday

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International Finance and Economics


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