Skip to main content



Module titleMetabolism
Module codeBIO2086
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Nicholas Harmer (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Life is dependent on energy generation and controlled synthesis of building blocks (proteins, lipid, polysaccharides and nucleic acids) needed to make cells: this is metabolism. This module will explore the critical principles that underpin metabolism in all organisms: these include the action and control of enzymes and the co-ordination of enzymes into controlled metabolic pathways.

Module aims - intentions of the module

Metabolism is the complex network of reactions that generate energy and synthesise cellular components.  In this module an interdisciplinary approach will be used to provide an understanding of the key chemical compounds in metabolism, how enzymes interconvert cellular chemicals, how metabolic pathways are investigated and regulated, and how metabolic engineering can generate compounds of interest.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe and evaluate the methods used in studying metabolic pathways and the enzymes and cofactors involved
  • 2. Discuss how flux though metabolic pathways is controlled
  • 3. Illustrate the structure, function and chemical reactivity of important biomolecules
  • 4. Discuss the mechanisms used to study enzymes, and the mechanisms enzymes use to drive reactions
  • 5. Outline why cells need to regulate their metabolism

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Describe and evaluate approaches to our understanding of biochemistry and biological chemistry with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles
  • 7. Describe in some detail essential facts and theory across a subdiscipline of the biosciences
  • 8. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 9. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within the biosciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently by written means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 11. Develop, with some guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with valid conclusions
  • 12. Collect and interpret appropriate data, drawing on a range of sources, with limited guidance

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

General introduction to the key chemical compounds used in metabolism. The interaction of functional groups to produce molecules with unusual reactivity is exemplified by the lipids (self-assembly and cell membrane structure and reactivity) and fatty acid biosynthesis and oxidation metabolic pathways are discussed. Methods used to investigate metabolic pathways (isotope labelling and genomics). The mechanisms that control flux through metabolic pathways (e.g. feedback inhibition, transcriptional control, post translational modifications). The methods used to study enzymes and their reactions. The mechanisms by which enzymes and cofactors work together to catalyse reactions in cells. Metabolic engineering: the regulation of metabolism in micro-organisms and plants. Nitrogen metabolism and anaerobic metabolism will be discussed.

Accessibility statement:  As part of this course, you will undertake two laboratory sessions in GP101/GP108 each of which is 5 hours duration. One session involves handling bacteria. These sessions will be undertaken in groups and have been designed to allow for each member of the group to take an extended (30 minute) break for lunch. There is also a three hour group data handling session. The sessions can accommodate students who require more frequent breaks for health reasons. Please contact the module coordinator if you require any particular support.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching19Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching13Laboratory practical activities and data handling workshops (2 x 5 hr, 1 x 3 hr)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Formative feedback sessions on assignment
Guided Independent Study10Preparation for lectures and practical classes
Guided Independent Study57Lecture consolidation and associated reading
Guided Independent Study15Problem-based assignment
Guided Independent Study33Exam revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Lecturer and/or GTA feedback during contact sessionsAd hoc1, 6-7, 10-11Oral
Lecturer feedback through PadletAd hoc1-4, 6-8, 10Written (Padlet)
Lecturer feedback in assignment Q&A sessions3 x 1 hour1, 3-4, 9-11Oral (recorded)

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Problem-based question and short essay-based examination701 hour2, 4-8, 10-12Written
Problem sheet (to include data handling)302,500 words1, 3, 6-9, 12Written and model answers


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Problem-based question and short essay-based examinationMultiple choice or problem-based question and short essay-based examination2, 4-8, 10-12August Ref/Def
Problem sheet (to include data handling)Problem sheet (to include data handling)1, 3, 6-9, 12August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Berg JM & Tymoczko JL (2019) Biochemistry, 9th Ed., Freeman, ISBN 1319114679
  • Garrett RH and Grisham CM (2017) Biochemistry, 6th Ed., Brooks and Cole, ISBN 1-305-57720-5
  • Ramesh V. (editor) (2019) Biomolecular and Bioanalytical Techniques: Theory, Methodology and Applications, Wiley ISBN 978-1-119-48396-0.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Protein, enzyme, catalysis, mechanism, pathway, negative feedback, energy, oxidative phosphorylation, metabolism, membrane, biochemistry

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

BIO1332 Biochemistry or NSC1003 Foundations in Natural Science

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date