module specification

DI4002 - Cellular and Molecular Systems (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Cellular and Molecular Systems
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 300
228 hours Guided independent study
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 25%   Tutorial portfolio (2000 words)
In-Course Test 25%   In class test (1 hour)
Coursework 25%   Report (1000 words)
Unseen Examination 25%   Unseen examination
Attendance Requirement 0%   Attendance - 80% tutorial attendance required to pass module
Attendance Requirement 0%   Practical Attendance - Satisfactory attendance required to pass module
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Morning
Year North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

A core module which provides students with an understanding of basic cell structures and an awareness of different cell types and relates the structure and activities of cell components to their functions and to cellular activities as a whole.
The second half of the module is concerned with biochemistry focusing on the properties of key biochemical molecules and their role in biochemical function.

Module aims

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. Specifically it aims to expose students to some of the key questions concerning cell structure and physiology, cellular biochemistry and intracellular activities. Additionally it will provide students with practical experience in a range of laboratory-based biological techniques and enhance students' ability to manage themselves and to develop organisational, critical and transferable skills which are necessary for employment requiring the exercise of some personal responsibility.


Cells and cell theory,
Differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
The plasma membrane
Nucleus, cell cycle, mitosis and meiosis
Intracellular trafficking, cellular junctions, cell adhesion and the extracellular matrix
The cytoskeleton
Cell communication
The prokaryotic cell-structure/function
Principles of cell membrane transport
Cells and energy (mitochondria and chloroplasts)
Introduction to basic thermodynamic principles. The concepts of enthalpy, entropy and free energy and their relevance to biochemical processes.
Equilibria in acid/base and redox reactions. Redox couples, weak acids, amphoteric behaviour and buffers.
Structure, properties and distribution of biomolecules: -
Proteins: amino acids, the peptide bond, levels of protein structure; Enzymes: enzyme classes, Michaelis-Menten kinetics ;
Carbohydrates: structure and behaviour of monosaccharides, selected sugar derivatives, the glycosidic bond, reducing and non-reducing disaccharides, oligo- and polysaccharides, determinants of their function;
Lipids: structure and behaviour of fatty acids and glycerides. Classification of lipids.
Water: structure and behaviour of water, contribution to macromolecular structure.

Learning and teaching

Learning will be delivered by lectures, tutorials and practicals and through weblearn-assisted formative sessions. Students will be provided with the opportunity to acquire knowledge of the subject matter through teacher led activities in the form of lectures and problem-solving tutorial sessions and laboratory-based practical exercises. Writing skills will be enhanced through the production of a seen essay on a topical issue. The ability to undertake scientific and ethical appraisal of data will be encouraged through directed reading and tutorial discussions. Students will be expected to reflect upon taught material in order to demonstrate their understanding of cell biology, a process assisted by use of the extensive module website
Lectures (30 hours) will utilize a variety of sources using powerpoint presentations to link content such as animations, video documentary and lecturer led demonstrations involving students.
Tutorials (8 hours) will consolidate the foundation learnt in lectures but will seek to link the content to the impact of modern cell biology on medicine and agriculture in a social and cultural context in the modern day environment.
Biochemistry tutorials will have an emphasis on problem solving based on preset work with student participation and group activities.  Students will be expected to prepare in advance for tutorials (14 hours) to develop problem-solving skills using worksheets provided.  Feedback from these sessions facilitates the learning process.
Practicals (28 hours) will allow students to perform a range of experiments safely, critically analyse their results and present these in an appropriate manner. These sessions will give students oppurtunity to develop and refine their critical, analytical and writing skills. Practicals will be both summative and formative. The initial formative sessions will allow students to reflect on their practical skills and their ability to critically analyse experimental results and present these in an appropriate manner.
Weblearn-assisted session in the first part of the module will seek to link the module content to the impact of modern cell biology on medicine and agriculture in a social and cultural context in the modern day environment but in a wider context than covered in the lectures in an aim to encourage self-directed learning.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Relate the structure and activities of cell components to their functions and to cellular activities as a whole, and have an appreciation of how cell fractionation is used to isolate these components.
2. Perform a range of experiments safely, critically analyse the results and present these in an appropriate manner.
3. Discuss how energy is generated and utilized within a cell.
4. Display an appreciation of the ways in which thermodynamic principles provide an understanding of biochemical processes;
5. display knowledge of the structure, properties and distribution of biomolecules;
6. have knowledge of enzyme structure and function and of some of the most important mechanisms controlling the action of enzymes and other proteins;show critical thinking in relation to evaluation of biochemical data; analysing laboratory data and answering quantitative questions in biochemistry.

Assessment strategy

This module will be assessed by will be assessed by means of coursework essay (2000 words) (25% of the overall mark) and time-constrained class test consisting of short answer questions (1 hour)(25% of the overall mark); a practical report (1000 words)(25%) and an unseen online exam (1 hour)(25%)
To pass the module students need to achieve a minimum aggregate of 40%

Component Marks Learning outcomes
Tutorial portfolio (2000 words) 25% 1,3
In class test (1 hour) 25% 1,2
Coursework  (1000 words) 25% 6
Exam    (1 hour) 25% 4-6



Alberts B., Bray D., Lewis J., Raff M., Roberts K. and Watson J.D. (2009).  Molecular Biology of the Cell, (5th edition). Garland, London, New York.
Berg, J., Tymoczko, J. and Stryer, L. (2011). Biochemistry International edition, 7th Edition,. W.H. Freeman.
Farrell, S. and Campbell, M. (2011). Biochemistry (7th Edition). CENGAGE Learning Custom Publishing
Horton H.R. et al. (2011). Principles of Biochemistry (5th edition). Pearson Education.
Jones A., Reed R., and Weyers, J. (2007). Practical Skills in Biology. 4th edition Prentice Hall.
McKee, T and McKee J. (2009). Biochemistry: The Molecular Basis of Life. (4thedition). Oxford University Press.
René Fester Kratz. (2009). Molecular and Cell Biology for Dummies (1st edition).  Wiley Publishing.
This site is a gateway to a number of useful institutional and information links.
Altruis Biomedical Network
Encyclopedia of Life Sciences
Molecular cell biology website