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Module titleCells
Module codeBIO1339
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Professor Mark Ramsdale (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module takes you on a trip around the fundamental unit of life – the cell. With particular emphasis on its dynamic nature, and using examples from bacteria to plants to animals, you will learn how cells use membranes and proteins to organise themselves, and how they communicate both within and without their confines. It also considers the guiding principles that govern formation of a multicellular organism such as cell division and tissue development.

In order to take BIO1339 you must normally have an A Level (or equivalent) in Biology.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module introduces core concepts in cell and developmental biology. The subject will be approached by considering what fundamental principles make the cell the unit of life; what separates the inside from the outside, how intracellular compartments ensure functional modulation and how neighbouring cells work together for the good of the organism. These principles are fundamental to any understanding of the biosciences and underpin any degree in the subject. In particular, this module aims to provide you with knowledge and understanding that will enable you to take second and final year modules in cell biology, developmental biology and molecular biology.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Illustrate the principal features of cells, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic
  • 2. Explain the relationship between cell structure and function
  • 3. Describe and explain the principles of plant and animal development
  • 4. Outline the experimental techniques used to study cells, and demonstrate competent use of the light microscope

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Summarise essential facts and theory in a sub-discipline of the biosciences
  • 6. Describe and begin to evaluate aspects of cell biology and research articles
  • 7. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, investigation and enquiry within the biosciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 8. Show skills for independent study
  • 9. With some guidance, select and properly manage information drawn from books, journals and the internet
  • 10. Interact effectively in a group

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

We will begin by discussing cell theory, the work of van Leeuwenhoek and the relationship between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. We will consider some of the tools commonly used to demonstrate the dynamic nature of cells (such as fluorescent proteins), before embarking on a tour of the way in which the cell organises itself. We will look at the plasma membrane as the single most important mechanism by which a cell separates itself from its surroundings, before moving on to consider the cytoplasm, the endomembrane system, the cytoskeleton, chloroplasts, mitochondria and endosymbiotic theory. We will then move to specifically consider bacterial cells and cell biology from the perspective of plants. Finally, we will discuss the main principles of development of multi-cellular organisms, using examples of aggregation, embryogenesis and morphogenesis.

Skills training will revolve around microscopy, including analysis of cell imaging, reinforcing the concepts covered in lectures, and emphasising the nature of scientific enquiry.

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 Teaching20Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching12Cell biology skills training
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Skills training feedback/recap/Q&A sessions (4 x 1 hour)
Guided Independent Study84Module consolidation, reading and videos
Guided Independent Study30Revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Virtual learning environment tasks2 x 1 hour1-7, 9-10Online
Online MCQ test1 hour1-5, 8-9Model answers

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
Skills based problem sets 4030 minutes1-10Model answers
MCQ examination601 hour1-5, 8-9Model answers


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Skills based problem sets Online quiz1-10August Ref/Def
MCQ examinationMCQ examination1-5, 8-9August 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

  • Alberts B. et al. (2008) Molecular Biology of the Cell. 5th Edition. Garland Science ISBN978-0-8153-4106-2
  • Alberts B. et al. (2009) Essential Cell Biology. 3rd Edition. ISBN 978-0815341307

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE page:

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Cell, membrane, protein, cytoplasm, cytoskeleton, mitochondria, chloroplast, cell wall, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, microtubule, actin, molecular motor, peroxisome, endosome, endomembrane system, cell division, bacteria, cell wall, protoplast, aggregation, morphogenesis, organism, microscope, fluorescence

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date