BSc Zoology with Industrial/Professional Experience / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:

Unit code BIOL10212
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit provides you with a grounding in the basic principles of Biochemistry. It aims to provide an understanding of the basic chemical properties of molecules that make life possible and a description of the key components of the cell and their biochemical interactions. You will learn about the processes that allow energy to be harvested from sunlight, converted and stored in food and released to drive biochemical reactions within cells.



To provide grounding in the basic principles of Biochemistry for students in Life Sciences. To provide a description of the principal components of cells. To demonstrate how energy is harvested from sunlight, converted and stored in food and then released into high-energy compounds capable of driving biochemical reactions.

Learning outcomes

To understand: basic chemical properties of molecules that make life possible, and how these properties relate to specific macromolecular structures and functions; proteins and cell membrane structure. Structural proteins, enzymes and macromolecular complexes as protein machines will be understood. An introduction to biochemical and biophysical methods will be given. The functions of mitochondria and chloroplasts in oxidative phosphorylation and photosynthesis respectively will be discussed as well as how energy can be released during catabolism and how it can be stored during anabolism.


Chemistry of Life: geometry of covalent bonds, key functional groups, characteristics and importance of noncovalent interactions; properties of water, pH and buffering; carbohydrate and nucleic acid structure

Protein structure: amino acids, primary, secondary, tertiary and quarternary structure

Biological membranes: types and structure of lipids; fluid mosaic model, phospholipid bilayer, membrane fluidity and the role of cholesterol, proteins in membranes, use of detergents to solubilize cell membranes and membrane proteins.

Enzymes: thermodynamics of catalysis, types and mechanisms of enzymes, substrate binding, active site, specificity and rate of reaction, effect of temperature, pH, concentration, Michaelis-Menten, Lineweaver-Burk, enzyme inhibition/regulation: reversible, non-reversible, allosteric molecules.

Biochemical and biophysical methods: Protein folding, the Levinthal paradox, diseases in protein folding. Protein purification and detection methods, chromatography, electrophoresis, mass spectrometry, use of antibodies.

Metabolism and bioenergetics: concept of high energy carriers, ATP, acetyl CoA, and co-factors NAD+, NADP+, catabolism and anabolism, free energy changes, glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, glycogen breakdown, gluconeogenesis, fatty acid metabolism, amino acid metabolism.

Electron transport and oxidative phosphorylation: the mitochondrion and the chemiosmotic theory, proton motive force and the production of ATP, ATP synthase.

Photosynthesis: the chloroplast, light capturing pigments, light reactions, photosystems, electron transport, dark reactions, carbon fixation, synthesis of sucrose and starch.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Developed through ELearning exercises on Blackboard 9.
Problem solving
Developed through ELearning exercises on Blackboard 9.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 15%
Written exam 85%

1.5 hour examination involving 50 multiple choice questions (85% of unit credits); electronically marked Blackboard eLearning assessments (15% of unit credits).

Feedback methods

Feedback will be via Blackboard e-Learning modules and Discussion Board. Some of the lectures will be held in flipped format where the lecture slot is mainly used for live interactive quizzes and detailed feedback on practice exercises. In this format, the material is first learned in private study with the help of textbooks and online material including videos.

Recommended reading

There are no specific recommended reading texts for this unit. Several textbooks are available in the Library that are suitable for revision of this unit. These include


Horton, R et al (2006) Principles of Biochemistry (4th edition). Prentice Hall


Berg et al (2006) Biochemistry (6th edition). W. H. Freeman (previous editions also available; see the Blackboard page for this unit for links to freely available online content and resources from the 5h edition of this book).


Sadava et al (2011) Life: the science of biology (9th edition). W. H. Freeman


Brown TA (2017) Biochemistry, Banbury


Voet & Voet (2011) Biochemistry (4th edition), Wiley (previous editions also available)


Nelson et al (2017) Lehninger principles of biochemistry (7th edition). W. H. Freeman (previous editions also available) 


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 77

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jordi Bella Unit coordinator

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