Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module MSE-2025:
Molecular Biology & Biochem

Module Facts

Run by School of Medical Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Edgar Hartsuiker

Overall aims and purpose

This second year module consists of a series of lectures and associated practicals. Students successfully completing this module should have developed a conceptual understanding of several aspects of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, relevant for molecular mechanisms of disease.

Course content

The lectures (20 in total) build on the 1st year "MSE-1007 Foundation in Molecules and Cells" module.

Subjects covered in the lectures are: DNA structure, replication, stability and inheritance; transcription, RNA processing, splicing and translation; post-translational modification and structure of proteins, enzyme kinetics; genome organisation and epigenetics; metabolism and bioenergetics.

The module also contains 6 practical days on applied molecular methodologies covering a range of key technologies (reverse transcription, PCR, agarose gel electrophoresis, protein expression and SDS-PAGE).

Assessment Criteria

C- to C+

Category: C- to C+ (50%-59%)

The student should demonstrate factual knowledge across all aspects of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, meeting a reasonable proportion of learning outcomes. The presented material is only based on the lectures and practicals with some knowledge gaps. Very limited evidence of thinking critically about the subject.


Category: A-A* (70%-100%)

An excellent student should demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of DNA, RNA and protein structure and function, the biological links between these molecules and their wider roles within the cell. Coverage of learning outcomes should be comprehensive and accurate, and additionally there should be clear evidence that the student has extended their reading beyond the module content (either through the scientific literature or citable online resources).

Evidence of critical thinking and wider reading is essential for A+ and A* marks.


Category: B- to B+ (60-69%)

The student should demonstrate good factual knowledge across all aspects of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, meeting the majority of learning outcomes, and additionally demonstrate an ability to think critically about the subject.

The content is largely based on the lectures & practicals. Limited evidence of critical thinking.


Category: D- to D+ (40%-49%)

The student should be able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of the essential facts and key concepts of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. The knowledge is only based on the lectures and practicals. There are significant knowledge gaps or a misunderstanding of the understanding of DNA, RNA and protein structure and function, the biological links between these molecules and their wider roles within the cell.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of protein structure and function

  2. Demonstrate knowledge and a conceptual understanding of the key biological functions of DNA, RNA and proteins

  3. Demonstrate knowledge and conceptual understanding of bioenergetics and the catalytic mechanisms of enzymes

  4. Demonstrate knowledge and conceptual understanding of genome organisation and regulation of gene expression

  5. Demonstrate a competence in performing common molecular biological techniques (pipetting, dilution, setting up enzymatic reactions, polymerase chain reaction, gel electrophoresis, data recording and analysis) Demonstrate appropriate numerical and descriptive data analysis skills. Demonstrate formal scientific reporting skills, including use of graphs, figures and tables

  6. Demonstrate knowledge and a conceptual understanding of the processes of DNA replication, recombination and repair; transcription and RNA processing; translation and protein folding

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Exam semester 1 25
Practical Report Semester 1 25
Practical Report Semester 2 25
Exam semester 2 25

Teaching and Learning Strategy


The core of the module consists of 20 lectures. There will be extensive formative feedback, with online quizzes and short answer questions on blackboard that allow the students to test their factual knowledge, and prepare for the exam. Some key concepts will be illustrated in the practicals.

Practical classes and workshops

The module will encompass a total of 6 practical days. Practicals will illustrate some key concepts as covered in the lectures and teach practical skills

Private study

For private study, students will be guided by formative quizzes and essay questions on Blackboard, to help them revise and prepare for the exam. Total time for self study also includes the time required for writing up the two practical reports.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others


Resource implications for students

Books should be available in library

Reading list

Molecular Biology of the Cell, Alberts et al., Garland Science; 6th edition (2 Dec. 2014)

The Biology of Cancer, Weinberg, Garland Science; 2nd edition (2 Jun. 2014)

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Pre-requisite of: