Chemistry of Cells module description

  • A general introduction to the chemical principles that underpin a contemporary understanding of cell function at the molecular level. These include stoichiometry and reactions, chemical bonds and structures, chemical equilibrium, chemical change (kinetics and mechanisms), energetics and metabolism, and the organic chemistry of macromolecules.

  • Atoms and stoichiometry

    • Atomic structure, the nucleus, isotopes, electron shells and the Periodic Table
      Chemical amount, concentration, chemical equations

    Molecular structure and organic chemistry

    • Lewis structures, VSEPR and the shapes of molecules
    • Organic functional groups, transformations and reaction mechanisms

    Kinetics, equilibria and pH

    • Factors affecting reaction rates, rate equations (including Michaelis-Menten enzyme kinetics)
    • Acid/base equilibria, buffering and pH

    Structure of macromolecules

    • Structures of amino acids and proteins
    • Structures of nucleotides and nucleic acids
    • Structures of sugars and carbohydrates

    Energetics and bioenergetics

    • Laws of thermodynamics, energy in its different forms, entropy
    • Free energy, equilibria and ATP

    Primary Metabolism

    • Glycolysis, TCA cycle and the electron-transport chain
    • Apply stoichiometric principles to the quantitative understanding of chemical reactions
    • Use simple chemical structural theory to discuss the main classes of molecules found in biological systems
    • Apply simple thermodynamic principles to chemical changes occurring in biological systems
    • Discuss examples of mechanisms, pathways and kinetics of chemical changes occurring in biological systems

    On successfully completing this module, students will be able to:

    • Work safely and competently in the laboratory (cw1)
    • Acquire, analyse and interpret experimental data (cw1)
    • Keep full and complete records of experimental methods, results and interpretation (cw1)
    • Interpret cell properties in terms of underlying chemical principles
    • Time and task management, and peer and self-performance evaluation, through use of formative feedback and staged assessment (self management);
    • Keeping a laboratory notebook record of practical work (communication).
    • Student development of transferable skills is promoted through the inclusion of: an essay-writing assignment that encourages development of library and academic skills, and requires use of word-processing skills (learning skills, communication, IT).
    Lectures Practicals Seminars Tutorials Fieldwork Other Assessment
    40 20  10   50% coursework
    50% examination