Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)


Department: Biological and Biomedical Sciences


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap 240 Location Durham


  • 'A' Level Biology OR Chemistry.


Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To examine the basis for the modern, molecular approch to biology.
  • To describe the main classes of molecules found in biological systems, and their assembly into macromolecular structures such as membranes.
  • To introduce the basic concepts of cellular metabolism, and enzyme catalysis.
  • To provide an overview of catabolic and anabolic metabolism, with particular emphasis on energy generation, and examine selected pathways in detail.
  • To outline the processes of transport and signalling in cells.


  • Molecules of life - basic concepts, chemical bonding and non-covalent interactions, solubility, peptides and proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids.
  • Membranes - composition, macromolecular structures, fluidity, transport across membranes.
  • Energy, enzymes and metabolism - thermodynamics, kinetics, enzyme catalysis, regulation.
  • Catabolism - glycolytic pathway, energy generation, fermentation, digestion.
  • Anabolism - gluconeogenesis, biosynthesis, regulation.
  • Signalling - signalling pathways, signal transduction, signalling molecules.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Appreciate the molecular basis for biological processes.
  • Understand how the functions of biological molecules and macromolecular assemblies are determined by their structures.
  • Understand basic concepts of metabolism and its analysis in terms of biochemical pathways.
  • Understand the processes of transport and signalling across cell membranes at the molecular level.
  • Appreciate the different roles played by biological molecules in the overall processes of cell function.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to understand information from appropriate sources (lectures, textbooks, online sources) relating to biochemistry of biological molecules, metabolism and its regulation, molecular processes of signalling and transport.
  • Ability to problem solve and evaluate experimental data relevant to biochemistry of biological molecules, metabolism and its regulation, molecular processes of signalling and transport.
Key Skills:
  • Interpretation and understanding of information from relevant sources (lectures, textbooks, online sources).
  • Interpretation and evaluation of data.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures deliver core knowledge.
  • Lab work allows students to utilise the knowledge gained from lectures, and support the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • MCQs sample the broad base of knowledge.
  • Unseen exams measure knowledge and the application and interpretation of that knowledge. They also test key skills in ability to present arguments and communicate them effectively in a concise written form.
  • Data handling exercises assess data handling, numeracy, critical thinking and presentation skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 40 Weekly 1 hour 40
Practicals 5 Termly 4 hours 20
Tutorials 2 1 Mich/1 Epip 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 138
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen formal examination 100%
Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical report 37.5%
Practical report 37.5%
MCQ Departmental Test 25%

Formative Assessment:

2 x Practical reports.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University