Course Syllabus


  • Course Description: Students will evaluate genetic information to ethically solve genealogical problems.
  • Credits: 3

Students will be introduced to the basic concepts of using DNA as a tool in genealogical research. They will learn about different companies that offer DNA testing. Additionally, they will learn how to use the Y chromosome, mitochondrial DNA, and autosomal DNA in their research and produce two genetic genealogy research reports.

Program Message

This course, in conjunction with the other courses in this Family History Research Program, will help students acquire skills needed to apply for a professional genealogy credential through the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) or the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). (Note that earning the BYU-Idaho Certificate in Family History Research is not equivalent to being a Certified Genealogist (CG) through BCG.)

Important Information: "The words Certified Genealogist and letters CG are registered certification marks, and the designations CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation" (BCG website (Links to an external site.)). "The ICAPGen℠ service mark and the Accredited Genealogist® and AG® registered marks are the sole property of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists." (ICAPGen website (Links to an external site.)).



You need to have completed or be concurrently enrolled in FHGEN 340.

Required Resources

All required resources are provided by the BYU-Idaho library website.

Resource Title or Description Author or Provider Ed. or Vol. 13-Digit ISBN (if applicable)


The Family Tree: Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy

(Available for free through the BYUI library.)

Bettinger, Blaine Second 9781440345326

Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide for Family Historians

(Available for free through the BYUI library.)


Holton, Graham S.
A free account

An account.

(Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may create a free account, instructions provided in course)

(If you cannot create a free account, you can use at a Family History Center or possibly a public library near you.)

Microphone and Webcam

Proctored Exams and Assessments

This course will use an online proctoring software called Proctorio. This makes it possible for students to take assessments and exams without a human proctor present. Proctored exams can be accessed like any other exam, once the software has been installed. Exams will be recorded by Proctorio and reviewed by the BYUI Testing Center. Any questionable exams will be forwarded to the instructor for further review.

For step-by-step instructions on Proctorio installation, please refer to this help guide article (Links to an external site.).


Course Outcomes (CO)

  1. Recognize and reflect on ethical issues involving genetic genealogy
  2. Understand the structure of DNA
  3. Recognize the differences in autosomal DNA, mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome DNA, and X chromosome DNA
  4. Explain how DNA is used in genealogical research
  5. Use DNA results to solve a genealogical problem
  6. Defend ethical choices in genetic genealogical scenarios

Major Assignments

The table below is meant to help you see the relevance of each major assignment as it pertains to the course outcomes (CO).

Major Assignment Description CO#
W02 Paper: Taking a DNA Test Students will write a paper that explains what a person should know before taking a DNA test. C0 #5
W03 Quiz: DNA Students will be quizzed on the structure of DNA CO #1
W03 Exam: Differences in DNA Students will be tested on their knowledge of the differences between autosomal, mitochondrial, Y chromosome, and X chromosome DNA CO #2
W10 Presentation: DNA in Genealogy Students will prepare a presentation on how DNA is used in genealogical research which will include notes on how different types of DNA affect genealogical research CO #3
W11 Report: Y-DNA Problem Students will use a fake genealogical profile to solve a genealogical problem and write a research report CO #4
W12 Report: Autosomal DNA Problem Students will use a fake genealogical profile to solve a genealogical problem and write a research report CO #4
W13 Exam: Genetic Ethics Students will be tested on their ability to defend their choices ethically in a variety of genetic genealogical scenarios CO #5
W14 Final Exam Students will be tested on their ability to answer questions covering their knowledge gained throughout the course All

Weekly Patterns

The table below displays typical weekly activities, due dates, and activity descriptions.

Due Date* Learning Model Activity Title Description
Midweek Prepare Reading Quizzes Quizzes will test students' understanding of their readings for the week
Midweek Teach One Another Discussion Students will observe a genealogical expert work through a DNA test case and discuss what they have learned
End of Week Teach One Another Peer Review Students will create materials to prepare to teach others what they have learned.  Peers will refine the presentation materials
End of Week Prove Various Students will demonstrate their ability to meet a course objective through a major assignment

*Set your time zone within user preferences so the dates and times for course activities will display correctly for your time zone.

Learning Model

This course is designed to give you opportunities to follow the steps of the Learning Model.  You will prepare each week by completing the assigned study materials.  You will ponder the materials as you prepare to teach one another through discussions and peer reviews.  You will prove your understanding of the material at the end of each unit and in a summative exam at the end of the course.  Additionally, you are required to teach others about what you learn in this course.  Genetic genealogy is a growing field that is unfamiliar to many.  By teaching others outside of the course, you will have a chance to show what you have learned and help others understand the field as well.



Students are expected to put in 9-12 hours of work for each week in this course.

Group Work

Group work is limited to working together in giving feedback in group discussions throughout the course and peer reviews for the two projects in Weeks 11 and 12.  

Late Work

As a sign of professionalism and respect, you should complete your work on time. However, your instructor has the discretion to accept late work or extend due dates as appropriate. If you feel you are unable to complete your work by the deadline, contact your instructor promptly and explain your situation. If your request for an extension is granted, be aware there may be a grade reduction penalty. 


Retries or re-submissions are also allowed at the discretion of the instructor. 

Extra Credit

From time to time, extra credit may be offered at the discretion of the instructor.

Writing Requirements

As you complete your assignments throughout the semester, you will be graded on grammar and spelling. As a professional genealogist, you will be expected to compose documents in a professional manner. Grammar and spelling errors reflect poorly on your business. Spend time to learn to become a good writer. There are many resources available to help you with this task. BYU-Idaho also offers its Writing Center services here.

While writing, make sure that all work is original. If you use other sources, make sure to cite them properly. Plagiarism will result in a zero on the assignment and possibly the course. Read the following guidelines about plagiarism on BYU-Idaho’s Academic Honesty site.

Grading Scale

Letter Grade Percent
A 100% - 93%
A- 92% - 90%
B+ 89% - 87%
B 86% - 83%
B- 82% - 80%
C+ 79% - 77%
C 76% - 73%
C- 72% - 70%
D+ 69% - 67%
D 66% - 63%
D- 62% - 60%
F 59% and lower

University Policies

Students with Disabilities

BYU-Idaho is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by BYU-Idaho Disability Services. If you need assistance or feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established policy and procedures.

If you have any disability that may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact Disability Services as soon as possible, preferably before the beginning of the semester, in order to insure that you receive appropriate accommodations.

This course includes required synchronous meetings. If you are currently registered with the Disability Services Office and need an interpreter or transcriber for these meetings, please contact the deaf and hard of hearing coordinator at (208) 496-9219.

Disability Services Contact Information:

Other University Policies

Go to the Student Resources module to review the university policies regarding honesty, online etiquette, communication expectations, etc.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due