Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 288 Location Durham


  • • 'A' Level Biology OR Chemistry.


  • • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • None


  • To study the fundamentals of life at the level of cells and their molecular components.
  • To introduce proteins and biological membranes, and their roles in the cell.
  • To introduce cellular metabolism through a study of the central energy-generating processes.
  • To introduce cell biology through studying the functional roles of systems of macromolecules


  • Protein structure and function; from simple biochemistry to complex functional biological molecules
  • Cells and membranes; components of membranes and their functions, roles of membranes in the cell.
  • Basic concepts of metabolism, and metabolic processes used by cells to generate energy.
  • Functional properties of cells, including structural components, cell-cell interaction, and signalling processes.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understanding the biochemical bases of physical properties of biological molecules.
  • Basic knowledge of the structure and functions of proteins.
  • Basic knowledge of the structures of biological membranes and their components, and understanding of their functional roles.
  • Basic understanding of cellular metabolism, and knowledge of energy-generating processes.
  • Basic knowledge of the functions of major structural components of the cell, and of cellular organelles.
  • Basic knowledge of cellular communication and signalling processes.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to understand and report on experimental work in biochemistry and cell biology.
  • To be able to apply problem-solving skills to practical problems in biochemistry and cell biology, including the use of mathematics and biochemical analysis.
Key Skills:
  • Numeracy, in data analysis, and calculations involved in biochemistry problems.
  • Communication skills, using the written word and graphics, involved in molecualr and cell biology practical reports.
  • Team work.
  • 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 exercises 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 exercises are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in understanding experimental work and data analysis.
  • Problem exercises (Data Handling) demonstrate subject-specific skills in data handling and key skills in numeracy applied to biochemistry and cell biology.
  • Unseen examinations demonstrate achievement of the appropriate level of subject-specific knowledge of biochemistry and cell biology, 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 Exercises 4 2 per term 4 hours 16
Workshops and Tutorials 4 2 per term 1-3 hours 8
Preparation and Reading 141
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen examination 2 hours 100% Yes - exam resit
Component: Continuous assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical report or data handling 62.5% No
Departmental test 37.5% No

Formative Assessment:

Work associated with non-summatively assessed practicals and workshops.

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