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Unit information: Molecular Cell Biology 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 Molecular Cell Biology
Unit code BIOC20001
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Jo Adams
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The unit will develop material introduced in the Level C/4 unit Biochemistry 1G.

It covers how the cell is organised at a molecular level, the intracellular signalling pathways used by cells in response to stimulation, cell communication, properties of the extracellular matrix and cytoskeleton and how these molecular processes are integrated into cell behaviours such as cell migration and cell cycle progression.

The teaching in the unit is delivered through lectures and is supported by practical sessions and data handling workshops.

The unit aims to develop an understanding the following areas:

Element 1. Cellular Organisation

  • Organisation of eukaryotic cells
  • Glycosylation
  • The secretory and endocytic pathways
  • Intracellular protein degradation

Element 2. Cellular Signalling

  • GPCR signalling
  • Receptor tyrosine kinases
  • Phospholipids and calcium
  • Serine/threonine kinases
  • Kinase cascades

Element 3. Cellular Behaviours

  • Communicating and adhesive interactions between cells
  • The extracellular matrix
  • The actin cytoskeleton
  • Cell migration
  • Cell cycle regulation

The units aims to develop the following skills:

  • Competency in a number of biochemical techniques in the practical laboratory.
  • Data analysis and problem solving skills.

The ability to research and present a defined area of Biochemistry in written form.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students should be able to demonstrate the following:

1. Knowledge and understanding of cellular organisation and the trafficking pathways in cells.
2. Knowledge and understanding of intracellular protein degradation.
3. Knowledge and understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved intracellular signalling in response to stimulation.
4. Knowledge and understanding of the extracellular matrix, cell-cell adhesions and the cytoskeleton and how these are involved in cell shape and cell movement.
5. Knowledge and understanding of cell migration and cell cycle regulation
6. Knowledge and understanding of the techniques used in the practical sessions.
7. The ability to research a specific biochemical topic using textbooks and the scientific literature and to present findings in a written format

Teaching Information


Data handling workshops


Assessment Information

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

  • Assessed essay (1500 word limit) (10%)
  • Practicals (written laboratory reports) (10%)
  • Three hour summative end of unit examination consisting MCQs and essays (80%)

Opportunities for formative feedback will be available on the practical reports, assessed essays and workshop material.

Intended learning outcomes will be assessed as follows:

  • Learning outcomes 1-5 will primarily assessed through the three hour summative assessment.
  • Learning outcomes 1-5 and 7 will also be assessed through the assessed essay.
  • Learning outcome 6 will be assessed through the written laboratory reports.

Students achieving an overall mark for the unit between 30 and 39% will be awarded credit points if they satisfy both of the following criteria:

  • The student must have a satisfactory attendance record for the practicals and workshops and have completed all course work associated with these sessions.
  • The student must have satisfactorily completed the assessed essay and submitted it by the appropriate deadline

Reading and References

Recommended reading includes the most recent editions of:

  • Alberts et al, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Garland Science
  • Voet & Voet, Biochemistry, Wiley
  • Lodish et al, Molecular Cell Biology, Freeman
  • Berg et al, Biochemistry, Freeman
  • Hardie, Biochemical Messengers, Chapman & Hall