Typical year one modules
Core Skills in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine
With lectures, workshops and tutorials this module will enable you to develop the core skills needed by biochemists in scientific writing, data handling and analysis, experimental design and scientific presentations. This module is designed to develop your problem solving scientific skills. An important aspect of this module is the integral tutorial system which will allow you to get to know the member of staff who will be your tutor for the duration of your studies.
Genes, Molecules and Cells
This module combines lectures and laboratory classes and introduces you to the structure and function of significant molecules in cells, and the important metabolic processes which occur inside them. You will study, amongst other topics, protein and enzyme structure and function, the biosynthesis of cell components, and the role of cell membranes in barrier and transport processes. You'll examine how information in DNA is used to determine the structure of gene products. Topics include DNA structure, transcription and translation and mutation and recombinant DNA technology.
Fundamental Inorganic and Organic Chemistry
This module provides the essential chemistry that biochemists need to understand the life process at the molecular level. The module includes atomic and molecular structure, bonding and reactivity, spectroscopy, “curly arrow” organic reactions and core organic chemistry and is taught by means of lectures and workshops.
In this module, you will be introduced to the physiology of the major systems eg cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal, mostly in man, including some aspects of drug action. This module will allow you to understand your biochemical and genetics knowledge in the context of the intact organism. This module includes lectures and laboratory classes.
You also choose 20 credits of optional modules from the School of Life Sciences or from other schools in the University. Options from within the School of Life Sciences are as follows:
Life on Earth
Life on Earth provides an introduction to the fundamental characteristics and properties of the myriad of organisms which inhabit our planet, from viruses, bacteria and Archaea, to plants and animals. In weekly lectures, and regular laboratory practical classes, you will consider how living organisms are classified, how they are related genetically and phylogenetically, and basic aspects of their structure and function.
Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour
Starting with Darwin’s theory of evolution, you will learn how natural selection and other evolutionary forces have shaped the ways in which organisms interact with each other and their environment. In addition to lectures, practical classes will give you hands-on experience with a range of ecological and behavioural concepts in the laboratory and the field.
Fundamentals of Neuroscience
This module will give you a good grounding in the basic principles of the nervous system of humans and other animals. Topics will include neuroanatomy, cellular neuroscience, neuropharmacology, sensory systems, neuroendocrinology, memory, behavioural neuroscience and diseases of the nervous system. These will be delivered through weekly lectures and practical classes.
Typical year two modules
Structure, Function and Analysis of Proteins
This module considers the structure and function of soluble proteins and how individual proteins can be studied in molecular detail. More specifically you will learn about the problems associated with studying membrane-bound proteins and build an in-depth understanding of enzyme kinetics and catalysis. You will learn about the practical aspects of affinity purification, SDS PAGE, western blotting, enzyme assays, bioinformatics and molecular modelling approaches.
Signals and Metabolic Regulation
This module considers the mechanisms and purpose of cell to cell signalling and metabolic regulation and includes the regulation of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and an outline of the various major signalling systems in mammals including signal transduction in G-protein coupled signalling systems, growth factors, cytokines and their receptors, cell-cell signalling and the extracellular matrix (ECM) and the role of the ubiquitin-proteasome system. The regulation and integration of various metabolic pathways will be covered in health and disease illustrated with specific examples and related to the signalling pathways covered in this module to provide an understanding of how biochemical processes are integrated and regulated. The module also includes laboratory classes where you will use techniques to study signal transduction and metabolism.
Structure, Function and Analysis of Genes
This module will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the structures of DNA and RNA and how the information within these nucleic acids is maintained and expressed in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell types. Additionally, this module describes how nucleic acids can be manipulated in vitro using molecular biological approaches. Practical classes will focus your learning on the cloning and manipulation of DNA to express recombinant proteins in bacterial systems.
Higher Skills in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine
This module further develops and enhances the skills you will have learned in the year one skills module. In year two you will write a short dissertation, solve biochemical problems, explore the scientific method applied to biochemistry, learn how to present science to the public and look issues around the ethics of science and research. The module includes lectures, tutorials and workshops.
The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics
This module will provide an in-depth analysis of drug action, and its application to the design and use of current therapeutics. You will learn to define what drugs are, the different ways they act at the cellular and molecular level, and the pharmacokinetic principles underlying drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination. You will explore examples in cardiovascular and respiratory disease, diabetes and obesity, CNS disorders, cancer and infectious disease. Overall, you will develop a deep understanding of what the discipline of pharmacology represents, and its application to both basic biological research and current and future medical advances.
In addition to the above compulsory modules you have 20 credits of optional modules you can choose from including:
Concise Inorganic and Organic Chemistry
This module develops your chemical knowledge and understanding from year one with organometallics: structure, bonding and principal reaction types, stereochemistry: definitions, examples and applications, organic spectroscopy: determination of structure through NMR, IR and MS, functional group interconversion: of alcohols, amines, carbonyls, and alkenes, synthesis and retrosynthesis: introduction to retrosynthetic analysis and synthesis.
From Genotype to Phenotype
This module serves as an introduction to the key skills of experimental design and data interpretation related to genomic analysis. You will design a series of ‘virtual’ laboratory experiments, with appropriate controls in order to probe the function of a particular gene in a physiological condition.
This module enables you to develop an elementary understanding of modern molecular imaging techniques, in addition to a historical overview of microscopy. You will acquire theoretical and practical knowledge of how to localise and analyse macromolecule behaviours in fixed and living cells.
You'll cover the key groups of eukaryotic and prokaryotic microorganisms relevant to microbial biotechnology, principles of GM, and strain improvement in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The impact of “omics”, systems biology, synthetic biology and effects of stress on industrial microorganisms are explored, alongside the activities of key microorganisms that we exploit for biotechnology.
Infection and Immunity
In this module you will study basic immunology, learning about the organs, cells and molecules of the immune system and the mechanisms engaged in the generation an of immune response to pathogens. You will learn by studying examples of types of human pathogens (viral, bacterial, fungal, protozoa and helminths), the varied nature of the immune response, depending on the pathogen, its niche(s) in the host and pathogen strategies for invading and surviving in the host. You will learn how immunological methods can be effectively utilized for disease diagnosis and vaccine development, and about the consequences of failure of normal immune function, including autoimmunity and hypersensitivity.
Macromolecular Systems: Structure and Interactions
This module explores the structures of macromolecules (proteins, nucleic acids) and how these interact (“the interactome”) to perform complex functions in living cells.
Typical year three modules
Biochemistry of Disease
This module will encourage you to use your biochemical knowledge to explain topics such as the hormonal control of metabolism, how fasting and overfeeding affects the body, and how problems within human body processing can lead to diseases. In addition, you will be able to describe two classes of important biochemical diseases including the inborn errors of metabolism and neurological disorders. There will be one hour of lectures a week for a full year.
Biochemistry Research Project
This project aims to give students the ability to analyse a relevant biological problem in-depth in a modern research environment. There will be three different approaches available including the opportunity to research a laboratory-based project on a topic related to the interests of academic staff, a group-lab based project with outcomes to be decided by the student or an individual topic of interest with an in-depth literary survey of its background. There will be two days a week of project work.
This module is divided into three parts: Firstly the application of genetic engineering to construct vectors that maximize the expression the expression of protein from cloned genes or cDNAs in heterologous systems will be discussed. Modern methods for the purification of recombinant proteins will be described. In the spring the module covers the life history of a protein from birth (synthesis) to death (apoptosis). The other major aspects that are involved include a discussion of protein folding, the cytoskeleton, protein and vesicle trafficking including endocytosis and protein degradation.
Molecular Basis of Medicine
During this module you will be building on previous learning and acquiring knowledge, skills and attitudes required for assessment and management of patients with a core spectrum of clinical presentations and conditions which involve or result from alterations to biochemical pathways. This includes an understanding of the normal structure and function of important biological molecules in human cells and of important metabolic processes that occur within cells and the structure and function of our genetic material. This will predominantly be within lectures and seminars.
In addition to the above modules you have 40 credits of optional modules to choose from which includes:
In this module you will examine the molecular hardware and operational concepts used by eukaryotic cells to govern their growth, proliferation and phenotypic development. You will study how cells respond to their environment and communicate via the exchange of signalling factors that bind to specific target receptors. There will be two hours of lectures a week.
Biochemistry of Cancer
This module covers some of the more modern ideas surrounding tumourigenesis and tumour progression. The first part of the course covers our current understanding of the molecular basis of tumour progression. Following lectures will focus both on research into the fundamentals of cancer biology and the biochemical basis for the treatment of patients with cancer.
Cellular and Molecular Immunology
This module will introduce you to advanced ideas about aspects of cellular and molecular immunology. You will learn about innate and humoral immunity and how humans can mount defence against infections from agents such as the HIV and diseases such as asthma. In addition you will find out about the major proteins involved and the genes coding for some of the proteins will be discussed. There will be two hours of lectures a week.
Molecular Microbiology and Infections
This module focuses on the molecular biology that drives the fundamental principles behind the survival of microorganisms and their interaction with humans. Lectures will discuss the interaction between the host and pathogens and how they drive the mechanisms of infection and immunity. There will be two hours of lectures a week.
Molecular Diagnostics and Therapeutics
This module covers the use of various biochemical and molecular biological analytical techniques employed in clinical diagnosis, as well as the development of new molecular therapies based on modern biochemical and molecular biological techniques. By the end of the module you will understand the scientific basis behind a variety of molecular medical diagnostics and the methods for the development of new molecular therapies. The module is assessed by a two-hour essay based exam.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.