Skip to main content

Unit information: Macromolecular Structure, Dynamics and Function in 2021/22

Unit name Macromolecular Structure, Dynamics and Function
Unit code BIOC20002
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Burston
Open unit status Not open

BIOC10002, BIOC10003 & BIOC10004



School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The unit develops material introduced in the Level C/4 units: BCC, BCP, Biological Chemistry 1A and Biological Chemistry 1B.

It covers the structure of proteins and how they are studied experimentally, how cells extract energy from their surroundings, how energy is utilised to power molecular motors and the movement of molecules around the cell, and how molecular motors are used in cellular activities and structures.

Teaching is normally delivered through lectures, practical sessions and data handling workshops.

The unit develops understanding the following areas:

Element 1: Protein Structure and Dynamics

  • Methods for determining macromolecular structures
  • Recombinant technology and protein engineering
  • Introduction to protein dynamics
  • Structure based drug design
  • Structural biology of membrane proteins
  • Structures and dynamics of transporters

Element 2: Molecular Motors

  • Kinesin motors
  • Myosin motors
  • Dynein motors
  • Helicases

Element 3: Powering Biological Systems

  • Proton-coupled redox reactions
  • Mitochondria and the production of ATP
  • Photosynthesis in plants and bacteria
  • The generation and detoxification of reactive oxygen species
  • Roles of redox reactions in biology

The unit aims to develop the following skills:

  • Understanding of relevant biochemical techniques and how they can be applied to address specific research questions.
  • The ability to use protein visualisation tools to investigate structure/function relationships.
  • The ability to analyse and interpret experimental data.
  • Numeracy and the ability to complete calculations based on protein purification, bioenergetics and redox potential.
  • The ability to research and describe a particular area of Biochemistry in written form.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After engaging with the unit, students should be able to:

  1. Describe the application of recombinant engineering in protein science.
  2. Describe the basic principles of, and evidence for, protein dynamic motions.
  3. Explain the basic process of and issues surrounding structure-based drug design.
  4. Explain the challenges of membrane protein structural biology and how these can be overcome.
  5. Describe the key features of secondary transport.
  6. Explain how ATP is used to power diverse molecular motors and explain motor mechanisms.
  7. Explain how cells extract energy from their surroundings to form ATP.
  8. Describe the generation of reactive oxygen species and the mechanisms used by cells to detoxify them.
  9. Perform calculations based on protein purification and enzyme kinetics.
  10. Perform calculations based on redox potential and solute transport.
  11. Describe relevant biochemical techniques used to investigate protein structure and dynamic function.
  12. Interpret experimental data from the study of protein structure and dynamic function.
  13. Use protein structure software to analyse molecular structure/function relationships.

Teaching Information

The teaching in the unit is normally delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including lectures, workshops and practicals.

Assessment Information

Coursework: 30%

Mid-sessional data handling assessment - 10%

End of unit exam: 60%


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. BIOC20002).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.