Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Level 1 Genetics (BIOL1171) and Molecules and Cells (BIOL1281)


  • • At least one other Level 2 Biological Sciences Module

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To study the different mechanisms by which cells respond to external stimuli.
  • To study the steps of signal transduction mechanisms, from arrival of signal at the cell membrane to changes in gene expression, in detail.
  • To study comparative aspects of signalling processes in organisms from different kingdoms.


  • Abiotic signals and their perception.
  • Biotic signals and their perception.
  • Signal transduction pathways.
  • Protein phosphorylation.
  • Calcium signalling.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of receptor systems for abiotic stress signals in plants and animals.
  • Knowledge of hormones in plants and animals, and the mechanisms of biotic signalling from a comparative viewpoint.
  • Knowledge of the pathways which link signal perception to gene expression.
  • Knowledge of how responses to biotic and abiotic signals are modulated by the nature of the perceiving cell, and how cells communicate with each other.
  • Knowledge of cell signalling can have practical benefits for medicine, food security, and treatment of disease.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to use of molecular biology and cell biology techniques to study the mechanisms of signal perception and transduction.
  • Ability to use data-handling skills to address problems in cell signalling
Key Skills:
  • Numeracy, in data analysis, and calculations involved in data handling problems.
  • Communication skills, using the written word and graphics, involved in evolution practical reports.
  • Team work, working in small groups in evolution practical classes.
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning.

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

  • Lectures deliver subject-specific knowledge.
  • Workshops reinforce subject-specific knowledge and understanding gained from lectures and the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Practical classes allow students to utilise subject-specific knowledge gained from lectures, and support the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Tutorials give enhancement of the student learning experience, supporting attainment of all learning outcomes.
  • Self-guided learning contributes to subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation.
  • Practical reports are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in carrying out experimental work and data analysis, as well as key skills.
  • Problem Exercises (Data Handling) demonstrate subject-specific skills in data handling and key skills in numeracy.
  • Unseen examinations demonstrate achievement of the appropriate level of subject-specific knowledge with an emphasis on understanding and communication (essay and problem-based questions) or recall of factual knowledge (multiple choice or short answer question tests).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 35 Weekly 2 hours p/w 35
Practicals 3 1 per term 4 hours 12
Tutorials 2 1 per term 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 151
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen formal examination 2 hours 30 minutes 100% Yes - exam resit
Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical report 50% No
Analytical exercise 50% No

Formative Assessment:

Regular formative assessments including data analysis, interpretation and problem solving throughout the module; 4 assessments over 2 terms.

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