We have used many pedagogical features in the text to improve the accessibility for students and allow instructors to tailor each chapter for their own courses.  Each chapter begins with an introductory paragraph – In a Nutshell – which provides a brief preview of the upcoming chapter content, while Key Points highlighting important concepts are found throughout the text.  A summary paragraph concludes each chapter, followed by a Chapter Capsule which presents a bulleted list of the important ideas we have discussed.

Boxes that expand on specific topics are found in every chapter and are grouped into several categories.   Communicating Genetics boxes present the terminology, notation, and diagrammatic conventions used to communicate genetics concepts.  Tool Boxes illustrate how the biological processes described in the chapter form the bases for essential experimental techniques. Other boxes feature the Human Angle, Historical Perspective, or Quantitative Approach to a topic presented in the chapter, each giving a different flavor to the study of genetics.  The Going Deeper boxes provide more advanced content about a process or system than is included in the main text of each chapter to allow instructors to include more details without losing the connections between the topics.  We regard all of these boxes as an essential feature of the book, allowing each instructor to adjust the content for the particular audience and emphasis in different classes.

Every chapter also includes study questions and problems, for which all of the solutions are provided on-line.  One goal of these questions is to have students work through examples that integrate more than one concept introduced in the chapter or from more than one chapter. We use realistic examples in the problems; since few experimental problems map neatly onto the concepts from only one chapter, we ask the students to do a similar integration of ideas with the result that they will gain a more unified view of the subject.  For example, our chapter on meiosis has questions that draw on natural variation, Mendelian principles, and sex determination and sex linkage – concepts that were introduced in previous chapters or that will be covered in the next chapter.  In addition, problems on the comparative genomics of Darwin’s finches are contained in several chapters of the book to emphasize the connections to what has been covered before.

The sheer amount of information we now know about the field of genetics can often be overwhelming; you may find yourself wondering ‘what do I really need to remember to make sense of the subject?’ Genetics offers several features to help you identify and remember the key ideas.

In a Nutshell

Each chapter opens with a succinct overview of what the chapter covers to give you a mental map of the topics that follow.

Key Concepts

Key concept panels throughout each chapter highlight important concepts right after they are introduced.

Chapter Capsule

Each chapter ends with a chapter capsule that recapitulates the key themes of the chapter in any easy-to-review format – perfect for revision and exam preparation.

As you study genetics, you may find some concepts easy to understand, even when encountering them for the first time. You may find others more challenging, and be left wishing for a little more support to really make sense of them. Genetics is on hand to help.

Video Tutorials

Available free online, the authors have produced a series of videos that provide deeper, step-by-step explanations of a range of topics featured in the text. Think of these videos as one-on-one tutorials. Perfect when you’re after that little extra guidance!

Communicating Genetics Panels

The language of genetics can often appear bewildering when you encounter it for the first time. Communicating genetics panels are written to help you avoid confusion, and master the terminology and notation that is used to communicate genetic ideas and concepts to others.

Our current understanding of genetics is the outcome of the work of many individuals over many years, all of whom have been united by a spirit of exploration and enquiry. Genetics offers a range of features to encourage you to explore and enquire for yourself.

Study Questions

Every chapter has an extensive set of study questions and problems, many of which stimulate you to make connections between different parts of the subject.

The study questions are grouped into three categories:

Concepts and Definitions – these questions prompt you to recall information discussed in the chapter in order to reinforce your learning of key principles and terminology.
Beyond the Concepts – these are more challenging questions that encourage you to think more critically about the topic under discussion.
Applying the Concepts – these questions require you to draw on and apply concepts you have studied in order to understand and interpret potentially unfamiliar biological problems or scenarios.

Journal Clubs

Journal clubs, provided online, feature a series of questions that guide you through the reading and interpretation of a research paper that relates to the subject matter of a given chapter. The Journal clubs help to re-inforce your understanding of a given topic by working through a more detailed example – and help you to read and interpret the primary literature with more confidence.

Genetics is far more than just a collection of abstract theories and knowledge: it represents a tool we can use to further our understanding of the diversity of life, including humans. Genetics includes a range of features that give you insights into the fascinating world of genetics beyond the basic concepts.

Toolbox Panels

Our growing understanding of the behavior of genes and genomes at a molecular level has enabled us to develop new tools for exploring how life operates at the level of genetics. Toolboxes throughout the book introduce many of the key experimental tools and techniques that are used to reveal more about the structure and function of genetic systems, and the way they evolve over time.


Boxes throughout are written to enrich the main text with additional perspectives and insights. These boxes explore four themes:

Quantitative Skills

Quantitative tools are an essential element of scientific enquiry, yet many students lack the confidence to use these tools in practice. The Quantitative Skills panels are designed to remove this ‘fear factor’, explaining in a clear, straightforward way a number of quantitative topics that help us understand genetics.

A Human Angle

What is the genetic basis of color blindness? How can genetics be used to analyze the Black Death? Genetic concepts influence the lives of every organism on the planet, and humans are no exception. The Human Angle panels explore a range of intriguing questions about the impact of genetics on humans.

Going Deeper

It is impossible to distil all we know about genetics into a single textbook. But your studies may have left you wanting to know that little bit more. The Going Deeper panels are designed to give you a taste of genetics beyond an introductory course by exploring some more challenging – but intellectually stimulating – topics.

An Historical Perspective

Our current understanding of genetics has been shaped by experimentation, enquiry, and the refinement of ideas over the course of several hundred years. The An Historical Perspective panels reveal some of the historical events that have influenced genetics as we know it today.