module specification

BM7111 - Introduction to Cell Biology (2016/17)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2016/17, but may be subject to modification
Module title Introduction to Cell Biology
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 10
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 100
100 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   On-line Quizzes (200 words)
Coursework 40%   Reflective learning log (1500 words)
Practical Examination 40%   Written assignment (ECA) (1500 words)
Running in 2016/17

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year LMET Distance Learning Not applicable -

Module summary

This module aims to expose students to some of the key questions of cell biology concerning the structure of cells and intracellular activities.

Module aims

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.  To expose students to some of the key questions of cell biology concerning cell structure and intracellular activities, enable students to understand the concept of cell theory.  The module also aims to provide students with an insight into the practical investigation of cell biology through participation in on-line virtual labs, to research a topical issue in depth and present it at an appropriate level and to reflect on the topics studied and their application in biomedical practice.


Cell theory. Range of cell types: prokaryotes; eukaryotic cell specialisation. Overview of differentiated cells in multicellular organisms; cell staining for life and death.
Plasma membrane structure and functions; movement of molecules/ions across cell membranes; membrane junctions; signal transduction-hormonal/neural.
Maintenance and change of cell shape; cell movements. Microtubules in e.g. nerve, cilia, spindle. Muscle microfilaments and contraction.
The nucleus. Chromatin; chromosome structure and organisation. Mitosis and the cell cycle. Meiosis. Consequences of abnormal cell cycles. Chromosomal aberrations.
Intracellular compartments; ribosomes, endoplasmic reticulum (ER), Golgi and lysosomes. Overview of protein synthesis and processing. Roles of smooth ER and lysosomes. Energy transduction. Chloroplasts and mitochondria. Overview of energy metabolism and electron transport.
Cellular communication and signalling, Receptors, Transduction, Response.
Overview of Local and long–distance cell communication in animals.
Cell interaction in the immune response. Cytokines. Overview of Immunity and the immune system. Principles of molecular cell biology: DNA synthesis and replication; regulation of gene expression and protein synthesis.

Learning and teaching

Information pertaining to the subject matter will be presented through an integrated programme of lectures and supporting exercises, together with some use of a problem-based learning approach and the guided use of student-centred learning resources.  Lectures will be used to provide a conceptual framework.  Student centred assignments will enable students to reinforce and expand their knowledge, and develop subject specific skills and competence.

Learning outcomes

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

  1. Display an understanding of basic cell structures and an awareness of different cell types and 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.  Describe the different ways in which cells can divide and explain how cells obtain energy, and how they use energy for driving reactions within the cell
  3. Understand a range of appropriate and relevant experimental techniques and how they are used and research, evaluate, and discuss key issues within the subject area and communicate the results in a cogent and balanced manner.

Assessment strategy

The module will be formatively assessed by in-course online quizzes (20%) and two coursework components. A reflective learning log (1500 words)(40%) and a written assignment (40%; 1500 words). Criteria for assessment will include an understanding of the subject matter; an ability, both orally and written, to explain, describe and discuss the work; completeness and conciseness of written reports and essays with emphasis upon critical ability and scientific rigour. To pass the module students need to achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 50%.

Component Learning outcomes
Quizzes 1,2,3
Reflective learning log 1,2,3
Written assignment 2,3



Alberts B, Bray D, Hopkin K. Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Robert, K, Walter P. (2008) Essential Cell Biology 3rd Ed. Garland.
Becker W, Kleinsmith L, Hardin J. (2012) The World of the Cell 8th Ed.  Benjamin Cummings.
Reece JB, Urry LA, Cain ML, Wasserman SA, Minorsky PV. (2011) Campbell Biology 9th Ed. Pearson.
Jones A, Reed R, Weyers J. (2002) Practical Skills in Biology. Prentice Hall.