Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 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 understand the use of techniques in molecular biology and cell biology 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.
  • 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.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 24 Weekly 2 hours p/w 24
Practical Exercises 3 1-2 per term 4 hours 12
Tutorials 2 1 per term 1 hour 2
Workshops 4 1-2 per term 1 hour 4
Preparation & Reading 158
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Proposal 50% Yes
Presentation 50% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessments will be provided to develop the skills for each summative assessment as appropriate.

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