Skip to main content


NES1303 : Cells and Biomolecules

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Vasilios Andriotis
  • Lecturer: Dr Fiona Cuskin, Dr Tahar Taybi
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The module aims to enable students to appreciate the fundamental importance of cellular and biochemical processes for whatever aspect of biology they subsequently specialise in. It aims to provide basic information about:
(i) the major biological macromolecules;
(ii) how structures of biomolecules relate to their functions; and
(iii) how biomolecules are synthesised and degraded through central metabolic pathways and the links to production and use of energy.
It also provides the opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience of studying cells and biomolecules and to develop skills needed to work effectively in a laboratory, perform relevant calculations, display and interpret experimental results and prepare laboratory reports.

Outline Of Syllabus

"The module will cover the following topics:
Introduction: module aims, learning outcomes, methods of delivery, resources, assessment
Revision of basic chemistry
Biochemical calculations
Macromolecules and their constituents:
• Amino acids and proteins
• Proteins as structural molecules and as enzymes
• Carbohydrates as structural and storage molecules
• Fatty acids, lipids and membranes
Metabolic processes
• Cellular energy
• Energy generation through glycolysis, fermentation, respiration
• Gluconeogenesis
• Photosynthesis
• Lipid metabolism: breakdown and synthesis

Short seminars: these cover relevant current research topics reinforcing module content and helping students to appreciate the importance of research on cells and biomolecules across the life sciences.
Practicals: Enzymes, Metabolism

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials380:2012:40Online - A combination of short recordings of lecture material and text published on VLE each week.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00Module introduction and recap.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion23:006:00Online: Preparation of summativelly assessed lab quizzes and reports (30%).
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion121:0021:00Online: Preparation of summative assessment: biochemical calculations problems, multiple choice, multiple answer, fill in blanks questions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture171:0017:00Present in Person, on campus - sessions covering module content,Q&A and assessment practice/revision
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical23:006:002 practical classes, PiP. Alternative offered through Canvas for students unable to be present.
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities30:301:30Online - Skills training: short recordings and online formative quizzes on biochemical calculations,
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00Present in Person- seminars by SNES Academic staff
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study120:2020:20Student independent study to revise/re-enforce basic chemical principles/practice biochemical skills
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1111:30111:30Student selected study of module content short recordings, seminars, ReCap, Canvas, textbooks, etc.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module will be delivered through a combination of online resources and scheduled sessions that will provide students with the essential factual and conceptual information for the module. The drop-in/surgery sessions will offer further explanation on module topics through short presentations by staff, Q&A, problem solving. The practical classes will give students the opportunity for hands-on study of cells and biomolecules, developing their skills in using laboratory equipment and in collecting, manipulating (including numerical calculations), presenting and interpreting experimental data. Online resources and material will be provided for revision of basic chemical principles, as well as for studying and practicing biochemical calculations.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination1201A70Inspera Digital Examination in PC clusters
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M30One lab report, analysing and reporting on experimental results (1500 words).
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Practical/lab report1MPractice in analysing and reporting on experimental results (1 report)
Computer assessment1MSeries of short quizzes, students receive feedback as soon as they submit their response.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formal examination (PC, digital exam) will assess the breadth of students’ knowledge of material covered in the module through a mixture of short answer (such as fill in blanks, multiple choice, label diagrams, true/false) questions, and biochemical calculations questions.

Assessment of laboratory reports will appraise data collection, presentation and numerical manipulation skills, and the ability to link results of practical experiments to theoretical knowledge.

The Canvas self-assessment quizzes will help students to review and assess their knowledge and understanding of module content.

Formative assessment through practice lab reports will help students prepare for the summatively assessed reports and for the exam by allowing them to gauge their preparedness and identify where improvement is needed.

Study Abroad students may request to take their exam before the semester 1 exam period, in which case the format of the paper may differ from that shown in the MOF. Study Abroad students should contact the school to discuss

Reading Lists