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The University of Southampton

BIOL1031 Introduction to Biochemistry

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Describe the structure of nucleic acids and explain how DNA is replicated, transcribed and translated into proteins.
  • Describe the structures and properties of the amino acids found in proteins including examples of post-translational modifications to their structure.
  • Describe the secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures of proteins including explanation of the forces involved in forming and maintaining such structures.
  • Describe the structure of membranes and the structures/functions of proteins found in membranes.
  • Explain the Michaelis-Menten model of enzyme kinetics, including the effects of inhibitors, substrate concentration, temperature, pH and allosteric regulators on enzyme activity.
  • Define a plasmid and explain the use of restriction enzymes in creating recombinant DNA for use in molecular biology/biotechnology.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Know how to perform fundamental molecular laboratory techniques such as running gels, column chromatography and measuring absorbances.


The module will introduce some of the macromolecules found in cells, how these are synthesised and the role they play. The structure and function of the various forms of nucleic acid are described and how the genetic information is passed on from one generation to another. The structures of the amino acids used to synthesise proteins and the various characteristics they contribute to the final protein are discussed which leads onto a description of how protein chains fold, the structures of fully folded proteins and the nature of forces that stabilise the folded protein. Then, particular examples of proteins are explored: enzymes and membrane proteins, including the lipids found in membranes. Post-translational modifications of proteins are discussed, in particular glycosylation which leads on to other roles of carbohydrates in biological systems. Subsequent lectures build upon the basic DNA and protein knowledge to illustrate how DNA can be manipulated by modern molecular biology techniques and how genes can be located in extracts of DNA, isolated and then cloned into plasmid vectors for high expression of the protein they encode.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This course consists of 20 lectures and 3 lab-based practical sessions.

Independent Study121
Practical classes and workshops9
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Despo Papachristodoulou, Alison Snape, William H. Elliott and Daphne C. Elliott (2018). Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 

Gerhard Meisenberg & William H. Simmons (2016). Principles of Medical Biochemistry. 

Blackboard site. Additional supporting material for this module can be found on the Blackboard module page. This includes access to virtual practicals.

Roger Miesfeld and Megan McEvoy (2017). Biochemistry. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessment will be by an end of module computer based multiple choice exam. Practical write-ups will also be be assessed.


MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  75%
Practical write-ups 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  100%
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