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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: Molecular Cell Biology 3 (BILG09001)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryCellular communication and signal transduction; second messengers; membrane trafficking and protein sorting in intracellular pathways; endocytosis and exocytosis; organelle biogenesis; cytoskeleton and its role in cellular dynamics and statics; contractility and cell movement; mitosis, the cell cycle and its control; regulation of cell proliferation; nuclear domains.
Course description The study of the structure and function of eukaryotic cells at the molecular level has been one of the major growth areas in biology over the past decade. Our understanding of many complex processes such as cell division, differentiation, movement and cell-cell interactions has been greatly extended by use of a combination of biochemical, molecular genetic and immunological methods.

This course takes as its starting point the material covered in several of the first-half 3rd year courses and 1st and 2nd year courses, and applies that knowledge to a detailed study of five major topics in molecular cell biology: the cytoskeleton, signal transduction, cell cycle, membrane trafficking and nuclear domains. As the pace of research in these areas is very rapid, the course will concentrate on techniques and experimental designs used to dissect and analyse these complex processes, as well as looking at current ideas about how they occur.

An important element in the course is the opportunity for you to develop the skills of an active learner through taking part in the course's exercises. There is a substantial amount of unscheduled time in the timetable, and this reflects the need for time to be set aside for reading, preparation for tutorials and production of in-course assessment items.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Biology 2B: Genetics and Evolution (BILG08025) AND Biology 2C: Systems and Regulation (BILG08026) AND Cells to Organisms 2 (BIME08011) AND Microorganisms, Infection and Immunity 2 (BIME08012) AND Biological Chemistry 2 (CHEM08030)
Co-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students also take Structures and Functions of Proteins 3 (BILG09015)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Biological Sciences students are automatically eligible to take this course by having completed the compulsory Year 2 courses [Biology 2A (BILG08024), Biology 2B (BILG08025) and Biology 2C (BILG08026)].
Students from other Schools are advised to enquire with the Course Organiser if you are not sure whether this course is suitable for you.
Additional Costs Students should provide note book and marker pen. Lab coats are provided.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesEquivalent of the courses listed above
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 32, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 4, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 12.5, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 141 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 55 %, Coursework 39 %, Practical Exam 6 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Three types of in-course assessment (hypothetical research project, ICA tests, and student presentations), and a 2-hour degree exam.
Feedback Formative verbal and/or written feedback given for student presentations, online- and group-projects, lab practical, and interactive lecture block. Written feedback given for hypothetical research project. Feedback is also provided via an active Learn Discussion Board.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe and understand our current state of knowledge with respect to the subject areas covered by the lectures and tutorials.
  2. Describe and understand of the experimental techniques and evidence upon which this knowledge is based.
  3. Apply your understanding to a novel problem, in the form of a well-reasoned hypothetical research project in which you propose hypotheses to explain a new cell-biological phenomenon and suggest/design experiments to test your hypotheses.
  4. Analyse simulations of how levels of regulatory proteins may oscillate in order to drive the cell cycle results of cell motility in vivo.
  5. Understand how differential detergent solubilities and relative density can be used to isolate specialised membrane subdomains from a crude tissue homogenate; demonstrate enrichment for specific membrane components and associated mechanisms within a defined membrane compartment using assays for cholesterol and total protein; detect tyrosine kinase activity associated with components of membrane fractions using in vitro kinase assays followed by SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and Western blotting with appropriate antibodies and detection system.
Reading List
Textbook: Alberts et al., Molecular Biology of the Cell (5th or 6th ed.)

Other reading in the primary or secondary research literature, as assigned/recommended by lecturers.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The University has identified a set of four clusters of skills and abilities (see headings below) that we would like students to develop throughout their degree programme to strengthen your attitude towards lifelong learning and personal development, as well as future employability. The graduate attributes we hope to develop within Molecular Cell Biology 3 are indicated below.

Research and Enquiry
The course aims to increase your understanding of the general subject area and also obtain specific skills as outlined in the course Aims and Objectives. The knowledge base of the course and the development of research and technical skills will be of benefit to you in completing your degree and beyond. The course will develop research and problem-solving capabilities through the Lab Practical and Web-based projects and through the Hypothetical Research Project.

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
To meet the objectives and challenges of the course, we encourage students both to work independently and also to discuss and debate with other students to strengthen your views as they develop. By reading textbooks and research papers you will expand your knowledge of the topics covered in the lectures, and this will allow you to broaden your own personal scientific interests outside of the specific subjects in the course. In writing the Hypothetical Research Project you will explore a topic in detail, evaluate what you have read in a critical way and provide your own approach to investigating and solving a biological problem.

Through discussion and collaboration with students in the tutorials, Lab Practical and Mitotic Oscillator project you will be able to communicate your views and ideas and to learn from your peers. Preparing for your presentations at tutorials will help you to develop effective communication skills. You are also encouraged to ask questions from your lecturers, practical demonstrators and tutors to expand your knowledge and clear up any misinterpretations you might have. There is also a course Discussion Board on Learn which can be used to obtain feedback and to discuss various aspects of the course.

Personal Effectiveness
Throughout your degree programme you will learn transferable skills that will benefit you not only across the courses you are enrolled in but in future employment and further study. In this course, as in others, time management is an important skill you will learn as you must develop ways to organise your work and meet deadlines. Writing a well-reasoned Hypothetical Research Project will help you to organize your thoughts succinctly and effectively. Group work in the Lab Practical and the Mitotic Oscillator project is also an important transferable skill. By interacting with fellow students you will become aware of your own skills and talents (and your possible limitations) and appreciate those of others.
Additional Class Delivery Information Tu, F, 0900-1230 - includes a combination of lectures, practicals and tutorials.
Course organiserProf Ken Sawin
Tel: (0131 6)50 7064
Course secretaryMiss Janna James
Tel: (0131 6)50 8649
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