BSc Biology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Biochemistry RSM

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL20312
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This Research Skills Module is designed to develop your experimental design, report writing and practical skills. You will be introduced to biochemistry research techniques through laboratory based projects. By the end of the course you will be accustomed to using spectrophotometers and be competent in carrying out techniques such as protein purification, mass spectrometry, enzyme kinetics, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and Western blotting.


This Unit is an option for all Biochemistry and Medical Biochemistry students and may be selected by other students.


To introduce students to Biochemical techniques through defined research projects.

Learning outcomes

The students will have learned to:• Purify an enzyme from cell extracts by different procedures• Determine the protein concentration of a solution• Determine the specific activity of an enzyme• Analyse the purity of a protein preparation by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and western blotting• Carry out a kinetic analysis on a purified enzyme• Use different mass spectrometry techniques to identify a purified protein• Present and critically analyse research data


Students will learn the following techniques:

  • Use of spectrophotometers
  • Protein concentration assays
  • Protein purification
  • Affinity chromatography
  • Enzyme assays
  • Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis
  • Western blotting
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Report writing in the style of a research paper

Data will be produced during the course of the RSM that will be recorded and analysed.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Use of spectrophotometers, Protein concentration assays, Affinity chromatography, Gel filtration, Enzyme assays, Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, Western blotting, Mass spectrometry.
Group/team working
Students work together in groups of 2-3 to carry out their experiments.
One group member usually takes the lead in organising the group to carry out experiments.
Project management
Students must decide on particular experiments to try and then organise themselves to carry out the experiments in the allotted time.
Oral communication
Students are asked questions during the practical. Students must also communicate the results of their experiments to the Academic Staff.
Problem solving
If experiments go wrong students must use problem solving to figure out where they went wrong.
This is a practical course so it is 100% research.
Written communication
Students are required to keep notes on their experiments. Students must also write up their results in the style of a research paper.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 50%
Report 50%
Written assignments (12.5% each): these assignments will include a literature search and different data analysis. One assignment will be due each week of the four weeks of the RSM.Written Lab Report (50%): an experimental write-up (50%) containing an Abstract, Results, Discussion and References of 5 pages in length (excluding references, tables, figures, graphs) to present and analyse the data obtained during the practical. RSM .Attendance guidelines. Students are expected to attend all scheduled RSM sessions on time (N.B. Health and safety information will be delivered at the start of practical sessions, and students who are not present at the start may be asked to leave the lab). Students who arrive late will be marked as absent for that session. Failure to attend a session (an unauthorised absence) will result in a 10% (i.e. 10 mark) penalty being applied to the overall RSM mark (i.e. a student obtaining a mark of 65% overall will instead receive a mark of 55%). Further absences will result in further penalties i.e. 2 absences = a penalty of 20% (as described above).

Feedback methods

Students will receive continuous feedback on their laboratory work during the Unit by the teaching staff and demonstrators. A discussion forum is also available through Blackboard to answer questions and receive feedback from the teaching staff. Detailed feedback on the assignments and lab report will be provided via Blackboard. Students are also encouraged to meet with the Coordinator following completion of the Unit to discuss the assessed work.

Recommended reading

All compulsory recommended reading will be made available through Blackboard and an online manual will be available to students on iPads in the lab which contains background and full description of the practical work.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 72
Independent study hours
Independent study 28

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Raymond O'Keefe Unit coordinator

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