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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Intro to Cell Biology and Biotechnology
Module Code BE538
School School of Biotechnology
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Naomi Walsh
Semester 2: Naomi Walsh
Autumn: Naomi Walsh
Module TeachersPaul Cahill
Naomi Walsh
Denise Harold
Michael Freeley
Janosch Heller
Neil Conlon
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Repeat examination

Module Aims: Students will come from a broad range of disciplines on entering the M.Sc. in Diagnostics and Precision Medicine (MDPM) and the M.Sc. in Biotherapeutics (MBT) programmes. This module is designed to ensure that students will quickly achieve the necessary background and understanding of fundamental topics in cellular and molecular biology, while also introducing the students to the field of biotechnology, and the many disciplines that contribute to biotechnology processes with particular emphasis on the biopharmaceutical and medical industries. Key developments in biotechnology enabling technologies will explain how advances in cellular and molecular biology have been exploited to produce useful products, particularly therapeutic medicines.

Learning Outcomes

1. Critically compare and contrast eukaryotic cells and prokaryotic cells in terms of their structure, organisation and intracellular organelles.
2. Gain advanced knowledge to contrast the scientific principles underpinning cellular and molecular biology in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms.
3. Gain systematic knowledge to explain the scientific principles underpinning signal transduction pathways in mammalian cells.
4. Gain critical awareness of the multidisciplinary nature of biotechnology and role of enabling technologies in the development of biotechnology
5. Discuss and critically analyse how advances in cellular and molecular biology have been exploited by the Biotechnology industry to produce useful products from living organisms.
6. Critical awareness of some of the current issues surrounding the regulation and ethics in biotechnology and the development of future biotechnology enterprises
7. Specialised tools and techniques to use the scientific literature to source relevant information on current topics in cellular and molecular biology, signal transduction and biotechnology.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture24Online lectures on a variety of topics in cellular biology and biotechnology
Assignment Completion40Assignment
Independent Study59Independent study of lecture material and directed reading resources.
Tutorial2Tutorials to support and complement the lectures.
Lecture24No Description
Assignment Completion40No Description
Independent Study59No Description
Tutorial2No Description
Total Workload: 250

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

1. Introduction to Cell Biology - Structure, Function and Organisation of the Cell.
A tour of the cell and its organelles; Gene structure and function; DNA, RNA and proteins (transcription and translation); Introduction to Proteins and Enzymology; Introduction to Signal Transduction

2. Signals and Receptors
Communication between cells in a multicellular organism occurs by the production of ligands (proteins, peptides, fatty acids, steroids, gases, and other low-molecular-weight compounds) that are either secreted by cells or presented on their surface, and act on receptors on, or in, other target cells. Such signals control cell growth, migration, survival, and differentiation. Signaling receptors can be single-span plasma membrane receptors associated with tyrosine or serine/threonine kinase activities, proteins with seven transmembrane domains, or intracellular receptors. Ligand-activated receptors convey signals into the cell by activating signaling pathways that ultimately affect cytosolic machineries or nuclear transcriptional programs or by directly translocating to the nucleus to regulate transcription.

3. Introduction to the Biotechnology Industry
Historical perspective of the modern biotechnology industry; Recombinant DNA technology; Choice of host cells for production of biotherapeutics and cell culture; Bioprocess Engineering including purification of biotherapeutics.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
In Class TestA series of challenge-based short questions will be used to address the students' critical understanding of the curriculum that specifically address the students' knowledge of one specific area and use it in another area.50%Week 7
Loop QuizThis assessment uses a mix of short challenge-based questions and problem-based MCQ to test student knowledge and critical understanding of the curriculum in the area of biotechnology. This type of assignment requires concise focused answers.25%Week 12
AssignmentThis a short written essay type CA whereby the students will answer prescribed specific questions based on a scientific published paper of their choice on a biotherapeutic medicine produced by the biotechnology industry. This allows for reflection and critical review of scientific studies (750-1000 words).25%Week 12
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Campbell: 0, Biology,
  • Ho, Rodney: 2013, Biotechnology and Biopharmaceuticals: transforming genes and proteins into drugs,
  • William J. Thieman and Michael A Palladino: 0, Introduction to Biotechnology, 4th, Pearson International,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
CHPMMaster of Science
GCBPTGraduate Certificate in Biotherapeutics
GDBPTGraduate Diploma in Biotherapeutics
GTSHGraduate Training Visitor Program (S&H)
MBPTMSc in Biotherapeutics
MDPMMSc in Diagnostics & Precision Medicine
PYPMMaster of Science

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