BSc Medical Biochemistry / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL21261
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


The endocrine system synthesises and releases chemical messengers (hormones), to maintain tight homeostatic control of physiological processes in the face of changes to the internal and external body environment. You will learn about the structure and function of the key endocrine tissues, together with the actions and interactions of their hormonal products. You will study the endocrine regulation of a variety of parameters including growth, appetite, blood sugar levels, stress, male and female fertility, pregnancy, puberty, and calcium balance. On a solid foundation of understanding the principles of endocrinology, you will begin to explore endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism and acromegaly.


To explore the biochemistry, physiology, and pharmacology of endocrine control systems in humans and other mammals. To enable students to develop their understanding of core topics in endocrinology and improve their skills in researching and presenting a topic concisely in writing.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students will have gained knowledge and understanding of:

      the structure and function of mammalian endocrine tissues in health and disease

      the manner in which the regulatory control and actions of individual endocrine tissues are integrated to maintain appropriate physiological and metabolic responses to changes in the internal and external environment.

Students will also have gained experience in researching and presenting a topic concisely in writing.


Basic concepts in endocrinology

      Hormone-receptor interactions and signalling mechanisms

      Methods used to detect and quantify hormone levels

      Endocrine control systems and response to environmental change

The endocrine glands and hormones

      The pituitary gland

      The thyroid gland

      The adrenal glands

      The endocrine pancreas

      The parathyroid glands

      Enteroendocrine hormones and control of appetite<

Employability skills

Project management
The course is assessed in part by electronically marked Blackboard quizzes which are released periodically throughout the course with fixed deadlines for completion. Students must manage their time effectively to meet these deadlines.
Oral communication
Students are encouraged to ask and answer questions during lectures.
Written communication
Short note and essay questions in examination; opportunity to attempt an exam-style essay question in weeks 8-10. Contributions to the online discussion board.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 50%
Written exam 50%

In-semester essay (approx. 1200 words)


Open book essay exam (approx. 1200 words)



End of unit essay exam will be one question from a choice of three questions.

Feedback methods

Weekly remote meetings with unit staff will be available to provide synchronous interaction and feedback as part of blended learning delivery.

•      Online quizzes will provide automated formative feedback.

      In-semester essay will provide opportunity for student to give and receive feedback from peers.

      Where possible, students may attend a post-examination ‘drop-in’ clinic to see examiners’ comments on their answers.

Recommended reading

      White BA, Harrison JR& Mehlmann LMEndocrine and Reproductive Physiology (5th Edition), 2019, Elsevier London: The Mosby Physiology Series. Core text.

      Holt RIG & Hanley NA Essential Endocrinology and Diabetes (6th Edition). 2012. Wiley-Blackwell. Optional text.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 78

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Karen Cosgrove Unit coordinator

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