Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Normally A-level Chemistry or BS13910 (Chemistry for Biologists).
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 h lectures
Practical 1 x 3 h practical


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Practical write-up  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written examination  70%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed coursework or alternative  30%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Written examination  70%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. recognise the structural and functional aspects of mitochondria and chloroplasts in the production of ATP to harness energy in the ATP cycle.

2. describe the oxidation of carbohydrates and fatty acids in biological systems.

3. describe the biosynthesis of carbohydrates, by gluconeogenesis and photosynthesis, and of fatty acids.
4. describe the role of the citric acid cycle in anabolism/catabolism and as a provider of biosynthetic intermediates.


This module, though aimed for those with a desire for knowledge of more detailed molecular/biochemical processes, will also prove ideal for others seeking a supplementary course to Biology of the Cell (BS13510) that is currently core for all degree schemes in Biological Sciences. It will concentrate on the major energy converting systems in living organisms serving to synthesise ATP, namely photosynthesis and mitochondrial respiration, and the ways by which the chemical energy in nutrients is released for use by the cell.

Brief description

The module will provide, via a series of integrated lectures and practicals, a platform to explore how Energy and Life are interrelated and interlinked through fundamental laws of energetics. It seeks an understanding of the energy harnessing at molecular levels with a view to underpinning concepts in bioenergetics in general, and its particular relevance, to all life forms on our planet. It will emphasise the importance of ATP and its cycle as one energy currency of the cell with attention to ion currents and gradients in locomotion, osmotic balance, bioluminescence etc. The multifaceted approach will explain the mechanisms of the production of ATP by photosynthesis and by the degradation of the organic compounds that are the products of photosynthesis. Equally, it will deal with the oxidation of carbohydrates, lipids and amino acids and the important role of the mitochondrion and its ion current in the process of oxidative phosphorylation or the so-called chemi-osmotic hypothesis. For the complete picture, it will also be necessary to cover essential aspects of how such compounds arise in nature. Where pertinent interesting and applied physiological aspects of the processes will be highlighted in nutritional disorders (Kwashiorkor), obesity, exercise, thermogenesis, pollination and ruminant metabolism


The following topics will be covered:
Inter-relationships between Energy and Life
An overview of bioenergetics: Free energy changes in biochemical systems; entropy, enthalpy, do biological systems disobey the laws of energetics?
Metabolism: catabolism and anabolism; synthesis versus degradation
The central role of the ATP cycle in cellular metabolism; ATP as energy currency of the cell; `high-energy - phosphate bond; energy status of the cell; where does it come from and what is it used for?
Breaking down of glucose step-by-step: Glycolysis in the cytosol; muscle cramps and lactic acid
The 'burning' of fats by living cells: oxidation of fatty acids.
Moving from cytosol into mitochondria: formation of acetyl CoA from pyruvate.
The 'taste of' acids in citrus and mangoes: the citric acid cycle and other happenings in the mitochondria
The left-over C, H and O from glucose: The final 'burn' of NADH by the mitochondrial electron transport system.
Oxidative phosphorylation via chemiosmosis in the mitochondrion.
Uncoupling; thermogenesis; shivering; aromitisation by plants
The role of the citric acid cycle as a provider of biosynthetic intermediates and links with amino acid synthesis and degradation.
Chloroplast: structure, function and compartmentalisation
Harnessing 'light' energy: PSI and II; ionic gradients to generate ATP and reducing power
Light and Dark reactions; significance of enzymology in chloroplast structural compartmentalisation Fixing atmospheric carbon dioxide into sugars of pea (C3) and maize (C4)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number The practical classes will provide opportunity to develop skills in use of equations and calculations.
Communication Attendance at lectures, presentation of practical work and written examinations will provide opportunities to develop written and listening skills.
Improving own Learning and Performance Attendance at lectures and practicals, working to deadlines for practicals and preparation for examinations will require the development of self management strategies and personal action plans.
Information Technology
Personal Development and Career planning
Problem solving Practical classes will provide opportunities to develop problem solving skills.
Research skills
Subject Specific Skills Subject specific concepts relating to cell biology will be developed.
Team work Practicals will require some degree of teamwork.

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. & Stryer, L Biochemistry . W. H. Freeman and Co. New York. Primo search Nelson, D. L. and Cox, M. M. (2006) Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry 5th Worth Publisher, New York Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4