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Unit information: Biochemistry: Cellular Composition in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Biochemistry: Cellular Composition
Unit code BIOC10003
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Gus Cameron
Open unit status Not open

A-level Chemistry or equivalent strongly advised



School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

Biochemistry: Cellular Composition gives students the skills and knowledge needed to understand the structures and roles of the major constituents of cells: proteins, DNA and lipids. Topics covered include proteins as structural components, protein-ligand interactions, the nature of enzymes, the structure and replication of DNA, transcription and translation, protein synthesis, regulation of gene expression, viruses, rDNA technology and genomics, the structures and properties of lipids and membranes, and mechanisms of membrane transport.

The unit is supported by laboratory classes and small group tutorials that build ability and confidence in the practical, numerical and written skills required by scientists. This material is supported by online resources delivered through Blackboard and eBiolabs.

The unit is organised into three elements and will cover:

Element 1. Proteins: from form to function (15 lectures)

Water, pH and Buffers

Amino acids, polypeptides and protein structure

Proteins and ligands

Protein:protein interactions

Protein purification and analysis.

Enzyme assays and kinetics

Enzyme mechanisms

Membrane structure and compartmentation

Element 2. From DNA to genomes (12 lectures)

Structure of nucleic acids.

DNA replication in prokaryotes.

RNA synthesis and DNA transcription in prokaryotes.

tRNA and the genetic code.

Protein synthesis in prokaryotes.

Regulation of prokaryotic gene expression.

Regulation of eukaryotic gene expression

rDNA technology

Element 3. Membranes and Transport (5 lectures)

Membrane structure and composition

Mechanisms of membrane transport

The teaching in the unit is delivered through 32 lectures and is supported by practical sessions, tutorials and workshops.

Intended Learning Outcomes

The unit aims to develop an understanding the following areas:

  1. The structures and properties of amino acids and proteins.
  2. The relationships between protein structure and function.
  3. Enzyme activity and enzyme kinetics.
  4. The structures of nucleic acids and the replication of DNA.
  5. Transcription, translation and protein synthesis.
  6. The regulation of gene expression
  7. The structures and replication of viruses.
  8. rDNA technology and genomics.
  9. Membrane structure and compartmentation
  10. Membrane transport

The units aims to develop the following skills:

11. Logical deduction, calculation and the application of scientific method.

12. Presentation of scientific arguments both verbally and in written form in a clear and rigorous manner.

13. Completion of practical work using standard laboratory apparatus and demonstrate the proper use of scientific units.

14. Observation, measurement, calculation and interpretation of scientific data.

Teaching Information





Assessment Information

The overall mark for the unit will be determined as follows:

  • Practical work (10%): students undertake practicals throughout the unit. Marks are allocated to pre-lab tests (20% of the marks) hosted on the online lab manual, eBiolabs, and practical write-ups (80% of the marks).
  • Examination (90%): one 3-hour paper consisting of MCQs, essays and data handling questions.

Opportunities for formative feedback will be available on practical reports and tutorial work (normally practice exam questions), and through examination preparation sessions (workshops).

Intended learning outcomes will be assessed as follows:

  • Learning outcomes 1-10 will primarily assessed through the three hour unit examination.
  • Learning outcomes 11-14 will be assessed through summative laboratory reports and formative tutorial work.

Reading and References

Recommended reading includes the most recent editions of:

1.Biochemistry (Berg, Tymoczko & Stryer, Freeman, 7th Edition, ISBN-13: 978-1429276351).

2.Instant Notes in Biochemistry (Hames & Hooper, 4th Edition, ISBN-13: 978-3137842019).

3.Biochemistry (Voet & Voet, Wiley, 4th Edition, ISBN-13: 978-0470570951).

4.Principles of Biochemistry (Voet, Voet & Pratt, Wiley, 3rd Edition, ISBN-13 978-0470-23396-2)