BI1BAB2-Metabolic and Practical Biochemistry

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: A Level Biology and GCSE Maths
Modules excluded: BI1MB2 Metabolic Biochemistry
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Alice Pollitt


Summary module description:
This module will consist of a combination of lectures and practical classes that will provide students with a holistic understanding of biochemistry allowing students to examine what they learn in the lectures through practical sessions. The lectures will discuss the ways in which cellular metabolic processes are regulated and the practical work will give hands-on experience of methodology through key biochemical laboratory techniques.


This module aims to provide the student with an understanding of key biochemical concepts such as enzyme kinetics, metabolic pathways (carbohydrate, protein and lipids), metabolic regulation, and pathological metabolism (including inherited metabolic diseases). The associated spring practical work aims to give students an opportunity to further investigate and reinforce knowledge of key lecture biochemical topics through practical sessions. The module will, therefore, give students experience and training in experimental projects, which form the basis of final year projects and real world scientific research. Further aims include: - To provide students an opportunity to plan and perform their own experiments; - To provide an illustration of the link between experimentation and scientific understanding; - To provide students with experience in scientific calculations, laboratory report writing and the analytical skills required to interpret experimental data.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to: • Describe basic metabolic pathways, anabolic and catabolic • Use enzyme kinetics to evaluate enzyme activities and their regulation • Describe the principles of metabolic regulation • Understand principles of key lab methods • Record, analyse and interpret experimental data • Present and describe experimental results, critically analyse experiments 

Additional outcomes:
Students should obtain a deeper understanding of biochemistry though the application of practical approaches and will have the opportunity to work as part of a team. Additionally, the mini-project aspect of the module will allow students to gain experience in problem solving and managing their own lab work.

Outline content:

This module will provide a fundamental understanding of metabolic processes common in cellular organisms. The operation of key pathways will be considered, the function of enzymes will be addressed and the manner in which biochemical processes are controlled will be highlighted. The module is designed to provide essential background on biochemical metabolic pathways that will enable students to comprehend biochemistry-related modules encountered later in their course. Students will engage in a series of practicals that will introduce essential biochemistry techniques and will illustrate key biochemical principles that will be of value in subsequent modules. Students will then apply the principles they have learnt to a practical mini-project. Students will also be introduced to ‘good laboratory practice’ (GLP), which they will be expected to follow throughout the practical sessions. There will be approximately 20 hours of practicals with calculation, analysis, writing and planning sessions provided throughout the course to support training of students in these areas. The Lecture Content covers: • Basic enzyme kinetics • Carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism • Lipoproteins and cholesterol metabolism • Nitrogen metabolism and urea cycle • Integration of metabolism  • Inborn errors of metabolism The Practical Content covers: • Spectroscopy • Western blotting • Chromatography • ELISA • Enzyme kinetics • Protein concentration determination • Protein purification • Tuition/guidance for calculations and write-ups

Global context:

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

There will be two ~50 minute lectures (divided by a short break) each week. Students will spend ~20 hours in the laboratory, this will be a mixture of performing experiments, as well as calculations and analysis sessions to support students prior to assessment. Additionally, students will be expected to use their free time to engage in background reading.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Practicals classes and workshops 20
Guided independent study 160
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Set exercise 50

Other information on summative assessment:
Late arrivals may not be allowed to join practicals for reasons of safety.

Formative assessment methods:

Oppurtunities for formative feedback will be present throughout, for example in practicals students will have the oppurtunity to discuss their data and calculations with staff. There will be a practice MCQ provided to prepare for the end of year exam.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    One-and-a half-hours

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    August - September re-examination

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    1) Required text books: Biochemistry textbooks are available in the library or to purchase ~£40 2) Specialist equipment or materials: N/A 3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: In compliance with the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 1992 Act, while studying this module students will be expected to wear a lab coat. The Department/School can provide students with this/these at a cost of £1 (hire per session) and £12 (to purchase). Students who choose not to purchase from the University must ensure that that their PPE meets the latest British/European Safety Standards. 4) Printing and binding: N/A 5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: N/A 6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence: N/A

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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