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Unit information: Biochemistry: Cellular Composition in 2021/22

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 normally supported by laboratory classes and workshops that build ability and confidence in the experimental, numerical and written skills required by scientists. This material is supported by online resources delivered through Blackboard and eBiolabs.

Unit Content

  • 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
  • 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

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast the structures and properties of amino acids and proteins.
  2. Discuss the relationships between protein structure and function.
  3. Solve simple problems concerning enzyme activity and enzyme kinetics.
  4. Outline the structures of nucleic acids and the replication of DNA.
  5. Answer questions concerning transcription, translation and protein synthesis.
  6. Give examples of how gene expression is regulated.
  7. Describe the structures and replication of viruses.
  8. Give an outline of rDNA technology and genomics.
  9. Explain membrane structure, compartmentation and transport

The units aims to develop the following skills:

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

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

12. Understanding of practical work using standard laboratory apparatus and the proper use of scientific units.

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

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

Coursework: 20%

Mid-sessional assessment: 20%

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. BIOC10003).

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.