Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
GCSE Science or its equivalent
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 hour lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 1 x 3 hour workshop on spectroscopy
Seminars / Tutorials 1 x 2 hour workshop on Bioinformatics


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   theory examination (short answers, calculations and essays)  70%
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment: workshops  30%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   written examination; re-submission of failed or missing course work or alternative (as determined by the exam board).  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. describe the chemical structures and functions of amino acids and proteins.
2. recognize and describe the chemical structures and functions of mono-, di- and poly-saccharides and lipids
3. recognize and describe the chemical structures and functions of nucleotides and nucleic acids and the relationship of structure to function.
4. analyse data from UV/Vis spectra quantitatively and perform simple IT-based bioinformatics.


The course is designed to introduce students to the molecules that make up the major components of living organisms. It will deal with the chemistry and structure of both the major macromolecules in biological systems and of the small molecules from which they are built, and will relate their structure to function. It will also introduce students to the basics of bioinformatics.


The course will deal in turn with all the major types of compound found in living organisms. Particular aspects of chemistry will be explained when and where appropriate. In particular, aspects of stereochemistry and its importance in biology will be covered.
Monosaccharides (simple sugars) as the building units of all complex carbohydrates will be described together with their bonding in di- and polysaccharides and the relationship of the structures of polysaccharides to their functions. The function of polysaccharides as storage and structural components of animal, plant and bacterial cells will be covered.
Amino acids as simple organic molecules and their essential properties will be described. Their linkage by peptide bonding and importance in protein composition, will be dealt with, including examples of proteins as structural components and as enzymes.
Saponifiable and unsaponifiable lipids, and structural and dietary aspects of plant and animal fatty acids will be covered and will include the nature and occurrence of neutral fats and oils, waxes, phospholipids and sphingolipids. The role of phospholipids as the basis of lipid bilayer membranes, with unsaponifiable lipid (terpenoid) and lipophilic protein inclusions will be described.
The section on nucleotides will deal with their structure and chemistry and their role in the structure of nucleic acids, including the nature of hydrogen bonding and its importance in the complementary base-pairing in DNA.
Four lectures will deal with the basics of bioinformatics.
The two workshops will deal with spectrophotometry and bioinformatics.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Solving of quantitative problems in workshops.
Communication Listening skills for the lectures and subsequent discussion in the designated workshops. Effective written communication in examinations.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to research materials, manage time and meet deadlines. The directed study elements will provide opportunity for students to explore their own learning styles and preferences and identify their needs and barriers to learning. Students will be able to review and monitor their progress and plan for improvement of personal performance.
Information Technology Accessing the web for information sources and using databases to find primary literature. Software packages used in bioinformatics workshop.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will gain confidence in their ability to evaluate biochemical/biological problems.
Problem solving Through the lectures students will become aware of specific biochemical problems faced by animals and plants and the solutions that have evolved to overcome these issues. The workshops will involve solving of quantitative problems.
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the lecture material using both directed and independent study. Information from a variety of sources will be the object of scrutiny and comment.
Subject Specific Skills Students will gain knowledge of the biochemical structures and functions of amino acids, proteins, mono-, di- and poly-saccharides, lipids, nucleotides and nucleic acids. Students will be able to appreciate the relationship of structure to function. Students will be able to use subject-specific data sets quantitatively.
Team work Not applicable.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Campbell, N. and Reece, J. (2005) Biology 7th Benjamin Cummings Publishers Primo search
Reference Text
Berg, J. M., Tymoczko, J. L. and Stryer, L. (2007) Biochemistry 6th Freeman, New York Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4