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The University of Southampton

BIOL6044 Plant Cell Biology

Module Overview

This module explores current topics in plant cell biology. It provides an understanding of the unique features of plant cells and of the cellular mechanisms that allow plants to interact with their environment. Responses at the cellular level to important environmental problems encountered worldwide are discussed and the mechanisms plants use to adapt and survive are covered. The application of modern techniques in cell biology is included and so this module is also of value to those with a broad interest in cell biology. The topics include ones in which members of the module team are actively engaged in research and therefore the most up-to-date information is provided. The module will also provide you with opportunities to practice and develop a range of general skills, which can be transferred to other fields of endeavour, including: practice in finding and critically assessing published information on a given topic; practice in the verbal and written presentation of scientific information.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • have knowledge of the properties, components and functions of the plasma membrane and endomembrane systems of plant cells
  • have a basic knowledge of how plants respond to salt stress
  • understand the cellular processes that may be sensitive to changes in the gaseous environment, particularly ozone
  • be able to find and critically assess published information on a given topic-
  • have had practice in verbal and written presentation of scientific information.
  • be familiar with the main techniques used to isolate and purify cell components and to investigate the properties of certain plant cell organelles, plant cell membranes and their components
  • be familiar with the properties, functions and location in cells of a range of membrane transport systems including, where appropriate, the mechanisms which generate the driving forces for solute transport
  • understand the properties and function of the plant cell vacuole
  • be conversant with semi-autonomy of chloroplasts and understand chloroplast assembly, including coordination between chloroplast and cytoplasmic protein synthesis
  • understand the mechanisms involved in the targeting and transport of proteins across organelle membranes
  • understand the basic principles of signal transduction processes in plants including the nature and roles of signal receptors
  • be familiar with the mechanisms involved in signal perception, and in signal generation and transmission
  • have a good knowledge of how plants respond to heavy metal stress, including mechanisms of heavy metal homeostasis


This module explores, in depth, selected topics in plant cell biology that are basic to our understanding of the way in which plant cells develop, function and interact with each other and with their surroundings. Areas covered include: vacuole and chloroplast function and assembly; membrane transport; signalling; stress responses covering salt stress, mechanisms of ozone damage and repair, heavy metal stress and homeostasis, and consequences of elevated ozone levels. The module will include discussion sessions and a poster presentation. Additionally you will be asked to give a 30 minute presentation based on an extensive review of the literature addressing the question: The importance of Plant Cell Biology research in the development of phytoremediation and/or biofortification technologies. The mark will be awarded based on the oral presentation and a fully annotated PowerPoint presentation (i.e. the notes section will provide the written information that is presented in the slides with appropriate references).

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and independent study. The module will include discussion sessions for poster presentations. In addition you will produce and present a poster and give a 30 minute PowerPoint presentation and submit the fully-annotated presentation.

Independent Study116
Practical classes and workshops8
Supervised time in studio/workshop4
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Oral presentation with supporting report 15%
Poster Presentation 15%
Written assessment 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Oral presentation with supporting report 15%
Poster Presentation 15%
Written assessment 70%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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