SHE Level 1
SCQF Credit Points 40.00
ECTS Credit Points 20.00
Module Code M1C726395
Module Leader Karen Keith
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • A (September start)-B (January start)

Summary of Content

Biological Chemistry is an introductory module which aims to provide the student with a sound knowledge of fundamentals of chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology and genetics on which they can build in later years of the programme. Students will study the central dogma covering the synthesis, structure and function of macromolecules including lipids, DNA, RNA and protein and h ow cells develop organisation through membranes and proteins. Genetics will be studied from the perspectives of DNA structure, gene expression, genome replication, heredity, genes in populations, and evolution as well as models of inheritance in humans. The chemistry component will address the concepts of atomic and molecular structures, and go on to examine the mechanisms of reaction. Other topics covered will include organic functional group reactions, the stereochemistry of simple organic molecules and chemical equilibria. As they progress through the module the students will go on to focus on the biochemistry of macromolecules in cells including thermodynamics, kinetics and the mechanisms of reaction using enzymes as a model system and contribution of lipids to the structure and function of membranes.


The Central Dogma and the role of macromolecules in cell structure (16 hours) The role of water, carbon and the building blocks of macromolecules (1h). The Cell The role of microscopy in determining cell structure. Cell theory. Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes- Organelles common to all cell types. Eukaryotic organelles. Endomembrane system. Function and origin of organelles. The structure of lipids, phospholipids, carbohydrates, glycoproteins and lipoproteins ( 4h) Membranes and transport Membrane structure models Membrane as a barrier. Transport across the membrane: diffusion and facilitated transport. Osmosis Na/K pump. Proton pump bulk transport. Cell fibres and the cytoskeleton. Centromere, centrioles. Extracellular structures and cell movement cilia and flagella Cell to cell interactions Tight and Gap junctions Desmosomes. Anchoring junctions (5h). Prokaryotes and viruses Prokaryotic Cell structure: Bacterial Cell wall. Target for drugs Introduction to viruses.: Virus genomes, classification and diversity ( 2h). Introduction to nucleic acids Structure synthesis and replication of DNA and RNA. Horizontal transfer of DNA in prokaryotes. (4h) Basic Chemistry (24 hours) The recognition of the principal organic functional groups, their structure and reactions. The distinction between aliphatic and aromatic molecules. Introduction to structural, conformational, geometrical and optical isomerism. The syllabus consists of a list of topics normally covered within the module. Each topic may not be dealt with in the same detail. Protein Synthesis and Molecular Biology (12 hours) The genetic code and protein synthesis Preparation & analysis of DNA. DNA sequencing (all methods including Next Generation). Structure of Genes: Eukaryotes RNA stability. Preparation & analysis of RNA ( 6 h) Protein structure and function . Functional diversity, classes of proteins. Amino acids: structures and properties, functional groups, acidic, basic, polar, hydrophobic. The peptide bond, primary structure of proteins. Motifs, domains and the modular nature of proteins. Relationship between structure and function with examples. Protein purification and characterization (6h) -358 Enzymes (8 hours) Enzymes as proteins which catalyse metabolic reactions. Identification of the major groups of enzymes, enzyme specificity and types of catalysis and how can enzymes control the rate of biochemical pathways. The effects of temperature, pH, enzyme and substrate concentration on the rate of enzyme catalysed reactions. Equations that define the kinetics of enzyme-catalyzed reactions in a mathematical way. The magnitudes of enzyme-induced rate accelerations and the role of transition-state stabilization play in enzyme catalysis. A description of the effects of competitive and non-competitive inhibitors on the rate of enzyme activity with aspartate carbamoylase as an example of an allosteric enzyme. Genetics and inheritance: (6 hours). Chromosome structure and function. Construction of a karyotype the stages of the cell cycle in m mitosis and meiosis. Mendelian Genetics and Disease, difference between F1 and F2 generations. Model heredity including test, monohybrid and dihybrid crosses. The concept of multiple alleles and alterations of chromosome number. Inheritance of autosomal/ dominant recessive and sex-linked disorders.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module the student should be able to:1. Name the key molecules and pathways that constitute the central dogma including the structure and function of DNA, RNA and protein.2. Define the basis of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cellular structure including the nature of cell membranes, cellular organelles and transport of molecules across membranes.3. Describe the structure and bonding in organic and inorganic chemical species.4. Perform calculations related to stoichiometry of reactions and chemical equilibria.5. Recognise the basis of genetic inheritance.6. Describe the nature and function of enzymes their substrates, modulators and inhibitors.7. Relate the different functional groups of organic molecules to their characteristic reactions.8. Demonstrate knowledge of elementary reaction mechanisms of organic reactions.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module will be delivered through an integrated series of lectures and tutorials. The students' progress throughout the module will be assessed via a number of review questions and class exercises and multiple choice tests allowing rapid feedback. Students will be supported by use of the managed learning environment GCULearn with links to practice problems and on-line videos.

Indicative Reading

Biochemistry (6th Edition) Garret RH and Grisham CM 2017 Cenage ISBN 978-1-305-57720-6 Essential Cell Biology (5th Edition) 2019., Alberts et al ., Norton Publishing ISBN 978-0-8153-4455-1 Biochemistry Terry Brown. 2016. Scion Publishing ISBN 9781907904288 Molecular Biology of the Cell 6th Edition, Alberts, Johnson, Lewis, Morgan, Raff, Roberts and Walter (2015) Garland Science. Fundamentals of General, Organic and Biological Chemistry, by J.R. Holum, 6th Ed.,1997 Wiley, ISBN 0471175749 Chemistry3, A. Burrows, J. Holman, A. Parsons, G. Pilling, G. Price, 3rd Ed., 2017 Oxford, ISBN 0199691851 Chemistry for the Biosciences, The Essential Concepts, J. Crowe, T. Bradshaw & P. Monk, 3rd Ed. 2014., Oxford, ISBN 0199662886 Catch Up Chemistry, For the Life and Medical Sciences, M. Fry & E. Page, 2nd Ed., 2012 Scion, ISBN 1904842895

Transferrable Skills

The students will develop the ability to organise and integrate information with taught and practical modules elsewhere in the bioscience programmes as well as gaining confidence in contributing to discussion in small group situations.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Tutorials (FT) 20.00
Lectures (FT) 66.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Independent Learning (FT) 294.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam 02 2.00 35.00 35% Exam Short Answer and MCQ
Exam (Dept) 02 1.00 15.00 35% Class Test 2 MCQ
Exam (Dept) 01 1.00 15.00 35% Class Test 1 MCQ
Exam 01 2.00 35.00 35% Exam Short Answer and MCQ