Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Chemistry : Chemistry

Undergraduate Course: Advanced Biological Chemistry (CHEM10071)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Chemistry CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryProteins and nucleic acids are amongst the most sophisticated and important molecules on Earth. This course of lectures and workshops provides a detailed understanding of their structures, functions, applications and the techniques used in their characterisation. Topics covered include: the analysis of sequence data, protein folding, dynamics and interactions, spectroscopic techniques, complex enzyme systems, biosynthetic pathways and the component enzymes, the use of biotechnology and biocatalysts in the production of commercially important materials e.g. clinically-relevant molecules for the pharma industry. The course will also incorporate recent case studies to explore key enzyme systems and important biosynthetic pathways, which feed the development of new synthetic routes, reagents, and novel biocatalysts for sustainable synthesis.

This advanced course builds on material delivered in the semester 1 course Biological Chemistry 2.
Course description The course will consist of 30 lectures (or equivalent), with the following topics proposed:

1. Structural and Molecular Biology: The structures of biomacromolecules (DNA, RNA and proteins), structure determination (NMR, X-ray crystallography and CryoEM), post translational modification of proteins, synthetic gene design, recombinant protein expression, mutagenesis, unnatural amino-acids, methods of purification and characterisation including electrophoretic methods and mass spectrometry.

2. In Silico Methods: Sequence analysis, databases, structure prediction and molecular dynamics. Some of the material in this section will be delivered as a workshop to foster the development of in silico skills.

3. Biophysical Techniques: The application of spectroscopic and analytical techniques to measure the physical properties of biomolecular systems, including kinetics, coupled assays, biothermodynamic methods (SPR, ITC), fluorescence, vibrational spectroscopy and imaging techniques.

4. Enzymes and Biosynthesis: This section will focus on enzymes, systems and their applications, beginning with an overview of the structures and functions of the different classes of enzyme. Case studies will be used to illustrate the application of techniques covered in earlier sections to the study of complex biological systems and processes. Topics covered will include specialised catalytic centres, analysis of biosynthetic gene clusters, protein engineering, directed evolution and highlights of recent natural product biosynthesis.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Biological Chemistry 2 (CHEM08030)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 28, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 3, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 6, Summative Assessment Hours 12, Revision Session Hours 6, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 132 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 100 %, Coursework 0 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam 100%
Feedback Each lecture module has an associated small-group tutorial. This will provide students with practice at problem-solving and tackling exam-like questions. It is also an opportunity for students to discuss any issues pertaining to the lecture course.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)Advanced Biological Chemistry3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Show knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles and concepts underlying the structure, function and dynamics of proteins and nucleic acids, and the extent to which they are supported or otherwise by available experimental data. Demonstrate an understanding of how structural data is obtained and analysed, such that informed and critical judgement of the data can be made.
  2. Understand and critically evaluate how specialised software can be used to visualise, analyse and predict macromolecular structures, their dynamic motion and interactions. Use sequence and structure databases to visualise structure and interpret properties.9
  3. Interpret and critically evaluate data from a range of biophysical techniques. Demonstrate an understanding of the physical processes being analysed and the principles of the techniques. Appreciate the utility of biophysical techniques in adding mechanistic and functional information to structural.
  4. Demonstrate originality and creativity in applying this knowledge and understanding to explain the key properties that equip biomacromolecules to carry out their sophisticated tasks in cells and organisms. Understand and critically assess the relationship between structure and catalytic function in enzymes and how data is used to interpret this relationship. Show knowledge and understanding of the roles of enzymes in biosynthesis and biotechnology, and methods for engineering structure and catalytic activity. Understand the chemical details of various classes of medicinally-important natural products. Be able to follow the detailed enzyme-catalysed steps in a complex biosynthetic pathway. Have knowledge of the modern analytical tools required to identify natural product pathways. Understand how bioinformatics can identify known, as well as cryptic, biosynthetic gene clusters.
  5. In workshops and small-group activities, collaborate in self-learning exercises and share with peers findings and informed judgements on the methods and techniques in advanced biological chemistry.
Reading List
Any good biological chemistry textbook will form a sound basis; e.g. Biochemistry; JM Berg, JL Tymoczko, GJ Gatto, L Stryer.

Reading lists pertaining to each course unit will be given by the lecturers.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Note-taking skills.
2. Numerical data interpretation and analysis.
3. Unseen problem solving skills.
4. Presentation skills.
Keywordsbiological chemistry,biomacromolecules,biophysical chemistry,biotechnology,biocatalysis.
Course organiserDr Simon Daff
Tel: (0131 6)50 7386
Course secretaryMr Craig Smith
Tel: (0131 6)50 4710
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information