Module Identifier BS24610  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr David E Whitworth  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Dr Mustak A Kaderbhai  
Pre-Requisite BS10910  
Mutually Exclusive BS21520  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   2 Hours. Introductory seminar  
  Practical   36 Hours. Practicals  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours Practical Exam  40%
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment Continuous assessment of practical work30%
Semester Assessment Practical Assessment Presentation of selected practical work in thesis format (2500 word limit)30%
Supplementary Exam2 Hours Practical Exam  40%
Supplementary Assessment Continuous assessment, Resubmission of failed or missing work.60%

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
Interpret written experimental procedures.

Demonstrate ability to make quantitative measurements of parameters that are routinely encountered in practical biochemistry.

Use properly a range of apparatus and apply a range of techniques that are commonly used in biochemical experimentation.

Identify hazards that are routinely encountered in the laboratory and describe the precautions that must be taken.

Present experimental data in approved format.


Experience and skill in practical work are of importance to any potential biological scientist and certainly for any student intending to pursue a laboratory-based career. This module aims to give students the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills to enable them to understand and interpret experimental protocols, and to carry out practical work to an acceptable level of accuracy with a variety of biological materials. This, together with the need to keep a careful laboratory notebook and the exercise of presenting one of the experiments in the style of a thesis, will give them useful preparation for future laboratory work including their research project in the third year.

Brief description

A number of experiments, outlined below, will be offered. These will have a rating in units and generally one unit equates to one practical session. The students, working in pairs, will be expected to complete a given number of units during the module. The experimental work will be organized so that each student has the opportunity to experience a broad range of experimental procedures. Experiments offered are designed to familiarize the student with the laboratory facilities available and the range of equipment in routine use and, at the same time, develop qualitative and quantitative skills.


An introductory session will deal with essential information about the module. This will include aspects of laboratory safety, COSHH regulations, use of equipment and the handling and presentation of experimental data.
Experiments can be grouped under the following general headings:
1. Isolation of biological materials.
Purification of the periplasmic enzyme, alkaline phosphatase from Escherichia coli and of cytochrome c from heart tissue make use of ion exchange and molecular exclusion chromatography. Isolation of trehalose from yeast and glycogen from rat liver both exploit differential solvent extraction and isolation of D-?-tocopherol from egg yolk provides experience of partition chromatography.
2. Analytical techniques.
The isolation of these biological materials leads logically to the use of a range of different techniques for analysis and determination of purity. These include various procedures leading to spectrophotometric measurements, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of proteins and TLC. Enzymes, their assay and characterization and kinetic studies also provide and exercise in quantitative spectrophotometry.
Other experiments, designed to provide `hands on? experience of specialized equipment, include gas-liquid chromatography of fatty acids, radioactive monitoring of the products of an enzymic reaction, assessment of the metabolic versatility of bacteria and metabolic pathway selection by respirometry, fluorimetric analysis of protein-ligand binding and the use of endonucleases in DNA fingerprinting.

Module Skills

Problem solving The interpretation of many of the data collected requires problem solving.  
Communication Written communication is part of the presentation of results.  
Improving own Learning and Performance Attendance at practicals and working to deadlines practical will require the development of self management strategies and personal action plans.  
Team work The students work in pairs for the laboratory work.  
Information Technology The use of computers is required for the analysis of some of the results and for the preparation of the thesis.  
Application of Number Many of the practicals generate numerical data which have to be manipulated in the analysis of results.  
Subject Specific Skills Practical skills specific to biochemistry are developed in this module.  

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Reed, R., Holmes, D., Weyers, J. & Jones, A. (2003) Practical Skills in Biomolecular Sciences 2nd. Pearson Education Ltd.
Boyer, R. (2000) Modern Experimental Biochemistry 3. Benjamin Cummings
Price, NC, Dwek, RA, Ratcliffe, RG & Wormald MR (2001) Principles and Problems in Physical Chemistry for Biochemists 3. Oxford University Press


This module is at CQFW Level 5