MSci Genetics / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Cell Metabolism & Metabolic Control

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL21132
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
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 the key features of cellular metabolism, including central catabolic and anabolic pathways.
  • Describe the main mechanisms through which metabolic pathways are controlled and how control occurs on multiple levels.
  • Explain 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

  • Practice semester test
  • eLearning module (ePBLs). Scenario-based problems will be used to develop skills in applying knowledge gained from lectures to unfamiliar situations.
  • Discussion boards (Padlet) will be open for each topic to encourage dialogue between students and teaching staff.

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
Essay questions in exams

Assessment methods

  • In semester test (25%). On campus Blackboard test composed of multiple choice, short answer, fill in blank style questions during the semester.
  • eLearning module (5%). Online problem-based learning module testing material covered in unit and application of knowledge to interpret experimental data.
  • Written examination (70%). On campus exam taken at the end of the unit. Answer one essay question from a choice.

Feedback methods

  • Feedback on practice essay.
  • Formative ePBL
  • Formative and summative ePBL will provide feedback for incorrect answers.
  • Students will be encouraged to ask questions at on campus sessions and online via course Padlet and will receive direct feedback from staff both in person and via online communication.

Recommended reading

  1. Nelson, DL & Cox, MM, Lehninger: Principles of Biochemistry (8th edition), Macmillan International, 2021, Essential  
  2. Frayn, KF, Metabolic Regulation: A Human Perspective (3rd edition), Portland Press, 2010, Optional 
  3. Review articles and commentaries as recommended by the lecturers.





Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 76.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Eileithyia Swanton Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Study hours and assessment methods are to be confirmed before the start of term

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