Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Cell Biology
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Practical 2 x 3 Hour Practicals
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Miscellaneous 1 x 2 Hour Miscellaneous


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   50%
Semester Assessment Practical Test  50%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay (alternative to practical test) Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Describe the structure of the eukaryotic cell and the structure and functions of its components.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of cellular processes and an appreciation of the integrated nature of the cell.

3. Demonstrate an understanding of the molecular biology of the cell.

4. Interpret and communicate data in a scientific manner.

5. Access and utilize literature sources effectively.

Brief description

This module introduces students to the eukaryotic cell and to the science of molecular cell biology. The cell is the fundamental unit of life and it is impossible to understand life at any level without a basic understanding of the cell. In this module we will examine the structure and function of cells and their components always keeping in mind that the parts make up an integrated whole and that the cell is a complex and coordinated biochemical machine.


To get some idea of what Cell Biology is, and why it’s important we start with an introduction to some of the key developments in this relatively young science. After this introduction we pause for a lecture to look at some of the fundamentals of scientific data handling and presentation. These are key skills you will need to apply in this and many other modules throughout your career.

We then take a traditional approach of looking at the structure and function of individual components of the cell, but as this represents a rather artificial view our focus will be on how they fit together.

We then focus on processes taking place at membranes illustrating the central importance of membranes in the life of the cell and building on the structural content of earlier lectures.

The structure and origins of chloroplasts and mitochondria are the next topic and we then examine how cells deal with the dangerous consequences of photosynthesis and respiration.

Molecular genetics is fundamental to our understanding of how cells work and the next section focusses on gene expression and its regulation. Rather than focus on the biochemistry of the processes we examine the regulation and mechanics of translation, transcription and the cell cycle.

Having spent a lot of time pulling the cell apart, our last section focuses on intact cells to emphasise the importance of viewing cells as an integrated whole and their contribution to multicellular organisms. Ciliates probably represent the peak of single-celled sophistication and are a stunning demonstration of the capabilities of solitary cells. We will also meet Dictyostelium a part-time multicellular organism.

We finish with cancer. Because of its importance as a disease cancer research has been the largest field of cell biology research for decades. As a consequence, much of what we know about cells derives from our understanding of cancer; the faults that cause cancer tell us how healthy cells work. Cancer is a natural cell biology laboratory.

In addition to this there will be two practicals, two sessions sets aside for the practical tests and a 3 h revision session at the end of the module.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Basic chemical calculations and data presentation.
Communication Communication of data in a scientific fashion.
Improving own Learning and Performance On-line self-testing.
Information Technology Use of spreadsheets to create appropriate graphs.
Personal Development and Career planning
Problem solving Interpretation of experimental results.
Research skills Accessing and correct use of literature in report writing.
Subject Specific Skills Basic laboratory skills, appropriate mathematical skills, and data analysis.
Team work


This module is at CQFW Level 4