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Unit information: Biochemistry: Cellular Composition in 2020/21

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 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: 40%

Timed assessments: 60%

Reading and References

The recommended textbook for this unit is:

Biochemistry (Berg, Tymoczko & Stryer, Freeman, 9th Edition, ISBN 9781319114657). “Stryer” is a classic text in the field and suitable for all students. Some students find is useful to use one of the simpler texts listed below to learn the basics and refer to Stryer for the detail.

Additional or supplementary texts:[BH1] [HP2]

  • Principles of Biochemistry (Voet, Voet & Pratt, Wiley, 4th Edition, ISBN 9781118092446): a simpler text than the full “Voet and Voet” below.
  • Biochemistry (Voet & Voet, Wiley, 4th Edition, IBSN 9780470570951. “Voet and Voet” has comprehensive coverage and is detailed enough to also cover much of the material presented in second and final year Biochemistry units. The wealth of surplus information may be daunting for first year students.
  • Molecular Biology of the Cell (Alberts et al., Garland Science, 6th Edition, ISBN 9780815344643). Excellent explanations of the more cellular aspects of the course and the simplest introduction to biochemistry basics you will find. This is a main text for the Semester 2 Biochemistry unit and useful for study in later years.