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Energy Metabolism

Module titleEnergy Metabolism
Module codeBIOM517
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Clive Butler (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Life is dependent on the conservation of energy derived from various sources (food or light for example). These processes use a plethora of sophisticated membrane-associated protein complexes that drive electron transport, generate proton gradients and synthesise ATP (and reductant in the case of photosynthesis). In mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, the electron transport chain culminates in ATP synthesis and the reduction of oxygen to water. In chloroplasts, light-driven electron transport is used for ATP synthesis and CO2 reduction. These reactions must be tightly controlled to match energy supply with demand otherwise potentially toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS: superoxide; hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals) can form. While causing damage if not controlled by the cellular antioxidant system, ROS also act as signalling molecules to mitigate damage by altering gene expression and metabolism. In this module you will study the respiratory and photosynthetic reaction centres and gain an understanding of their organisation, structure, reaction mechanisms and regulation. The mechanisms of ROS formation and scavenging will be covered as well as their role as signalling molecules in photosynthesis.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The Energy Metabolism module aims to advance your knowledge of metabolic biochemistry by studying in detail the reactions in anaerobic energy metabolism, oxidative phosphorylation and photosynthesis, and appreciate how these reactions can lead to the generation of oxidative stress. How these reactive oxygen species (ROS) are controlled and managed is key to the survival and function of the cell. During this module you will engage critically with current scientific literature and methodology in order to gain a rounded understanding of the limits of current research in bioenergetics and oxidative stress in a number of diverse model systems.

The skills you gain from lectures will develop or enhance your employability. Transferable skills to other sectors include: problem solving (linking theory to practice, responding to novel and unfamiliar problems, data handling), time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group), collaboration (taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work), self and peer review (taking responsibility for own learning, using feedback from multiple sources)..

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Evaluate critically the methods used in studying bioenergetic reaction mechanisms
  • 2. Describe how energy metabolic pathways are investigated
  • 3. Synthesise knowledge of the molecular basis for the generation of oxidative stress/signalling
  • 4. Explain how bioenergetic enzymes evolve, and how they can be assembled
  • 5. Analyse in depth the principles of anaerobic energy metabolism, oxidative phosphorylation and photosynthesis

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 6. Evaluate in detail approaches to our understanding of biochemistry with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles
  • 7. Analyse in detail essential facts and theory in a subdiscipline of the biosciences
  • 8. Evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline, and evaluate and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 9. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using written and oral means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 10. Devise and sustain, with minimal guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 11. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data with minimal guidance
  • 12. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The contents of the module will be selected from the following subject areas:

  • Oxidative phosphorylation
  • Photosynthesis
  • Electron transfer reactions
  • Proton translocation reactions
  • Respiratory metalloprotein complexes
  • Oxidative stress
  • Structural basis of respiration
  • Anaerobic energy metabolism
  • Redox control of photosynthetic enzymes
  • Dealing with excess excitation energy in photosynthesis
  • Production of reactive oxygen species in photosynthesis
  • The role of vitamin C in photosynthesis
  • How photosynthesis communicates with the chloroplast and nuclear genomes

For the student-led journal clubs you will work to analyse, evaluate and discuss primary publication journal articles. Articles will be chosen by the lecturers. You will have two weeks to research and prepare for the journal club, during which time you will receive guidance from one of the lecturers associated with the module. The content of the journal club sessions could be covered in the final examination.

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 Teaching18Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Journal clubs
Guided Independent Study10Guided analysis of research paper
Guided Independent Study20Preparation for presentation
Guided Independent Study25Preparation of review article
Guided Independent Study74Guided reading of literature, literature research and revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Journal club presentations500 wordsAllOrally during session

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
Literature review603000 words1-11Written
Problem-based test201 hour1-7, 9-11Written
Short review201500 words1-11Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Literature reviewLiterature review1-11August Ref/Def
Problem-based testProblem-based test1-7, 9-11August Ref/Def
Short reviewShort review1-11August 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 50%) you will be required to submit a further literature review. 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 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Berg JM, Tymoczko JL and Stryer L (2011) Biochemistry, 7th Ed., Freeman, ISBN 1-429-27635-5
  • Garrett RH and Grisham CM (2009) Biochemistry, 4th Ed., Brooks and Cole, ISBN 0-495-79078-8
  • Nicholls DG and Ferguson SJ (2013) Bioenergetics 4, Academic press, ISBN 9780123884251
  • Halliwell B and Gutteridge JMC (1998) Free Radicals in Biology and Medicine 3rd edn. Oxford Univ Press ISBN 0 19850044 0
  • Bowsheer C, Steer M and Tobin A (2008). Plant Biochemistry. Garland Science. ISBN 0-8153-4121-0

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Journal reviews and research articles will be recommended.

Key words search

Bioenergetics, photosynthesis, oxidative stress, electron transfer, metalloproteins

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

NSC1003 Foundations in Natural Science

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date