BSc Cell Biology

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Cell Metabolism & Metabolic Control

Unit code BIOL21132
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that occur in living organisms to maintain life. You will focus on the metabolic pathways in the cells of mammals, with some reference to microbes and plants. You will learn about diseases caused by defects in metabolism, such as diabetes, which will emphasise the importance of metabolic control.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Proteins BIOL21111 Co-Requisite Recommended


To provide students with an understanding of the essential features of cellular metabolism, and the mechanisms through which metabolism is controlled. This will be achieved using specific examples and model situations to illustrate principal regulatory mechanisms. Diseases caused by defects in metabolism will be studied to emphasise the importance of metabolic control. The course will focus on mammalian systems, with some reference to plants and microbes.


Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Describe cellular metabolism, including central catabolic and anabolic pathways.
  • Describe the main mechanisms through which metabolic pathways are controlled 
  • Explain why key metabolic enzymes are often regulated by several different mechanisms.
  • Discuss how different control mechanisms may be integrated to coordinate cellular metabolism, with reference to specific examples.
  • Discuss how metabolism is coordinated in mammals, and explain how disturbances in metabolism contribute to disease.


1. Principles of metabolic control and control mechanisms

Overview of metabolism: functions and end-products, anabolism and catabolism, energy metabolism; concepts of metabolic control.

Control mechanisms: levels of control, isoenzymes, branched and linear pathways, allostery, control by covalent modification, control of enzyme level.

2. Regulation of core metabolism
Carbohydrate metabolism: long-term regulation of glucose utilisation, enzyme-level control of glycolysis and gluconeogenesis, links to fatty acid metabolism, glycogen turnover, sugar interconversions and the citric acid cycle.

Lipid metabolism:  regulation of fat mobilisation, lipoprotein metabolism, fatty acid oxidation, lipid synthesis, links to glucose metabolism, ketones.

Amino acid metabolism: control of protein turnover, nitrogen handling, links to nucleic acid metabolism, amino acid oxidation, integration with citric acid cycle.

Metabolism in plants: starch/sugar metabolism and fermentation for biofuels, storage lipid biosynthesis: regulation and applications.

3. Integration and adaptation of metabolism
Metabolic states and signals, tissue cooperation, adaptation of metabolism to physiological/pathological situations (feeding-starvation, diabetes, obesity).

eLearning Activity

  • Online quiz (exam-style short answer questions).
  • eLearning modules (contributing 10 % of the final mark). Scenario-based problems will be used to develop skills in applying knowledge gained from lectures to unfamiliar situations.
  • Discussion forums will be open for each topic. to encourage dialogue between students and teaching staff.
  • End of course quiz and revision session.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
ePBL involves analysis of experimental data. Lecture material incoroporates students to primary sources and data.
Problem solving
ePBL as above.
Written communication
Short note and essay questions in exams

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 90%

1.5 hour written examination (90%), consisting of two sections, Section A short-answer questions (50%, 10 out of 10 questions) and Section B  essay questions (50%, 1 out of 3 questions) .

Set exercise – online coursework assessment

Two problem-based eLearning exercises (5% each, 10% total) consisting of MCQs testing data-interpretation and application of knowledge gained from lectures.


Feedback methods

  • Written feedback on practice essay question submitted before Easter vacation.
  • Online quiz will provide formative feedback (model answers provided upon completion).
  • eLearning PBLs will provide feedback for incorrect answers.
  • Students will be encouraged to ask questions and will receive direct feedback from staff, both in lectures and via Blackboard discussion forums.

Recommended reading

Recommended Reading:

1. Nelson, DL & Cox, MM, Lehninger: Principles of Biochemistry (7th edition), W H Freeman 2017. eTextbook available to all students through the BlackBoard Unit.

Additional Reading

Frayn, KF, Metabolic Regulation: A Human Perspective (3rd edition), Portland Press, 2010

Review articles and commentaries as recommended by the lecturers.





Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 21
Seminars 1
Independent study hours
Independent study 78

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Eileithyia Swanton Unit coordinator

Return to course details