BIO1019 : Introductory Biochemistry for Biologists

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The module aims to enable students, who will subsequently study a range of biological science subjects, to appreciate the fundamental importance of biochemical processes to whatever aspect of biology they subsequently specialise in. It aims to provide basic information about: (i) the structure and function of the major biological macromolecules; (ii) how structure and function relate to each other and (iii) how biological macromolecules are synthesised and degraded through central metabolic pathways and the link to production or utilisation of energy. It also provides the opportunity for students to gain experience of practical laboratory skills and enables development of skills, including numeracy, needed to manipulate, display and interpret experimental data and prepare laboratory reports.

Outline Of Syllabus

Outline Syllabus

Lectures (FC and VA): (* In class tests follow completion of these topics)
Semester 1
Required basic chemistry (optional for students having appropriate background knowledge)
Protein structure and function with examples of important globular and fibrous proteins
Basics of chemical reactions
Enzyme function and effect of pH, temperature, substrate concentration and inhibitors*
Cell energy currency – ATP. Mechanisms for energy generation: substrate level phosphorylation, oxidative phosphory lation electron transport chains, chemiosmotic process
Carbohydrate structure and function
Energy from carbohydrate – anaerobic processes: glycolysis*

Semester 2
Energy from carbohydrate – aerobic processes: TCA cycle
Alternative carbohydrate metabolism - pentose phosphate pathway
Di- and poly-saccharide synthesis
Lipid structure and function
Membranes, transport proteins, osmosis, tonicity
Energy from triacylglycerols, ketone body production
Lipid synthesis – fatty acids, triacylglycerols and phosphoacylglycerols
Nitrogen cycle: nitrogen fixation, ammonia assimilation, transamination and deamination, urea cycle*.

Practicals (FC and VA):
The practical classes involve the use of common laboratory equipment, eg. balances, pH meters, spectrophotometers, burettes and pipettes, in both quantitative and qualitative analysis relevant to biological macromolecules. The classes will cover aspects of carbohydrate, lipid and protein structure and simple biochemical reactions and techniques. They will require students to collect, present and manipulate data and to integrate results obtained in practical classes with information provided in the lectures.

Research Seminars
Research Seminars cover current topics in biochemical research. They aim to re-enforce material covered during lectures and provide students with an appreciation of the importance of biochemical research across the life sciences.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion14:004:00Examinations: 1 x 1.0 h plus 1 x 2.0 h plus 2 x 0.5h
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion260:3013:00Revision for examinations
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion41:004:00Completion of assessed lab-reports
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical43:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:002 formative in-class tests plus feedback and 2 revision sessions, one per semester
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1115:00115:00Student selected study of lectures, ReCap, Blackboard, wbsites, etc to enhance understanding
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study221:0022:00Routine lecture follow up to identify areas requiring further, more detailed study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide all students with the basic information for the module. Optional open tutorial sessions are to provide additional teaching in a less formal situation for those students who feel it would be of benefit. The formative in-class tests/tutorials will be held on completion of a topic of study: they are designed to encourage learning throughout the module and to identify for students any areas needing additional study. The practical classes introduce students to the use of basic laboratory equipment, analytical techniques and simple biochemical experiments and are designed to enhance students' understanding of the structure, function and properties of biological macromolecules and to enable them to gain confidence in collecting, manipulating (including numerical calculations), presenting and interpreting experimental data.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination601A20N/A
PC Examination1202A50N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M20Two lab reports (10% each)
Computer assessment2M10Blackboard test in Semester 1 and 2 (each worth 5%)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Practical/lab report1MN/A
Practical/lab report1MN/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formal examination at the end of Semester 1 will assess the students’ knowledge of material covered in that Semester and will also give students an opportunity to gauge how their knowledge level matches that expected of them. There will be the opportunity to improve performance at the end of Semester 2 when material covered in both Semesters will be examined, but with greater emphasis on Semester 2 work. The formal examinations will assess breadth of knowledge and understanding of the structure, function and metabolism of the major biological macromolecules through a mixture of short answer (fill in blanks, true/false, label diagrams, draw structures) questions and the depth of knowledge through short essay answers on specific topics.

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. Most of the report forms will be completed during the lab class.

To ensure that students have achieved a sufficient level of knowledge and skills, students are required to attain at least 30% in the exam in order to pass the module. For students failing to attain at least 30% in the exam, the module mark will be the exam mark without the inclusion of the in-course assessment marks.

Reading Lists