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MMB8018 : Studying Life at the Molecular Level

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Paula Salgado
  • Lecturer: Dr David Bolam, Dr Suzanne Madgwick, Professor Waldemar Vollmer, Professor Jeremy Lakey, Dr Kevin Waldron, Professor Matthias Trost, Dr Nick Watkins, Dr Josana Rodriguez Sanchez
  • Owning School: FMS Graduate School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The module aims are to:

• Engage students with the research process, from conception through to publication, by lectures from active researchers describing their own published work and what led to successful publication

• Develop students' ability to clearly present protein science in oral and written form

• Enhance student's knowledge of a variety of methods and techniques that allow the study of molecular and cell biology in a range of health and disease scenarios

Outline Of Syllabus

The course will comprise a series of module talks, seminars and workshops that discuss novel concepts within biomolecular research:

•       RNA-Protein complexes in cancer gene regulation
•       Carbohydrate-protein recognition in gut microbiota
•       Bacterial outer membrane proteins
•       Bacterial cell wall synthesis
•       Protein complexes in cell polarity
•       Metalloproteins in bacterial pathogens
•       Mammalian nutrient transporters
•       Drug target identification proteomics

A range of different methods to study the function, structure and key interactions of different proteins and other biomolecules in the context of a range of aspects from cancer to cell division and host-pathogen relationships to fundamental bacterial cell biology will be covered in the interactive sessions, presented by researchers active in these fields.

Intended learning outcomes include an understanding of these methods but, importantly, a deeper engagement and perception of the research process, from ideas to the process that brings findings to publication as peer reviewed articles.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion125:0025:00Creation of powerpoint file
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00Preparation & Submission of 2000 word Essay
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Preparation of Assessed Group Presentation on Paper
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching92:0018:00Present in person (PIP): Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Present in person (PIP): Group presentations and discussions
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity130:0030:00Additional Reading & Reflective Learning
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study481:0048:00Preparing Notes from Lectures & Reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk11:001:00Present in person (PIP): Essay preparation discussion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk11:001:00Present in person (PIP): Introductory session to outline the module
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Sessions will be interactive encouraging students to question concepts and ideas and to develop critical analytical skills when interrogating the wider literature. The development of this expertise will underpin the capacity of the students to undertake private study.

Should public health circumstances dictate that it is necessary, in person sessions will be moved to online alternatives.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M702000 words; article for general scientific readership describing an original paper selected from lecture presentations
Report1M30Design a graphical abstract for a research publication
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1MGroup oral presentation (Present in person) ; 15-20 minutes comprising presentation and critique of an original research paper.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The report on the content of a research paper describing a recent advance in biomolecular research tests the students’ analytical skills, their capacity to interpret experimental data and their ability to explain complex scientific principles, approaches and findings in terms accessible to a more general audience.

The graphical abstract makes the students aware of the need for clear representation of scientific ideas in an accessible format and provides a skill which students will use in their future career.

The formative group presentation develops insight into the process involved in generating data for high-quality scientific publications as well as developing ability to appraise critically data on protein structure and function.

Should public health circumstances dictate that it is necessary, the oral presentation will be moved to a synchronous online presentation.

Reading Lists