MSci Genetics / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL10212
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
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 Biological 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, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids and biological membranes will be understood. The mode of action of enzymes and macromolecular complexes as protein machines will be investigated. 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, common linking bonds in biomolecules; characteristics and importance of noncovalent interactions; properties of water, pH and buffering

Protein structure: amino acids, primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins

Carboydrates and nucleic acids: carbohydrate taxonomy, stereochemistry, ring formation, polysaccharides and glycoproteins; nucleosides, nucleotides, RNA and DNA; structure of DNA

Biological membranes: types and structure of lipids; structure and properties of biological membranes; three classes of membrane proteins; membrane transport

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: reversible, non-reversible; allosteric regulation

Biochemical and biophysical methods: cell disruption and separation of cell components; protein purification and detection methods, chromatography, electrophoresis, mass spectrometry, use of antibodies; introduction to protein folding, the Levinthal paradox, diseases in protein folding

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

Employability skills

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

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 15%
Written exam 85%

Written examination

1.5 hour written examination consisting of 50 multiple choice questions (85% of unit credits)


Set exercise – Online coursework assessment

Electronically marked Blackboard eLearning modules (LMs) consisting on online MCQ tests (15% of unit credits). Each LM is linked to a specific part of the syllabus and released separately with its own deadline.

Feedback methods

Immediate feedback will be available via Blackboard for the e-Learning modules. Staff will also feed back comments to students through Discussion Board and –briefly- after lectures. 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

Moran LA, Horton, RA, Scrimgeour G, Perry M (2012) Principles of Biochemistry (5th edition), Pearson. New International Edition (2014) and older editions also suitable for this course. Optional


Berg, JM, Stryer, L, Tymoczko, J and Gatto, G (2019) Biochemistry (9th edition), WH Freeman, NY. Older editions also suitable for this course. Optional


Berg, JM, Tymoczko, JL and Stryer, L (2002) Biochemistry (5th edition), WH Freeman, NY. Optional. Freely available online at


Nelson, DL and Cox MM (2017) Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry (7th edition), WH Freeman. Older editions also suitable for this course. Further reading

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 77

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jordi Bella Unit coordinator

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