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Unit of study_

BCMB2901: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Advanced)

Semester 1, 2024 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Without cells, life as we know it would not exist. These dynamic assemblies, packed with biological molecules are constantly in action. But how do cells work? Why is the food that you eat so important for cellular function? How is information transmitted from generation to generation? And, what happens as a result of disease or genetic mutation? In this unit of study, you will learn how cells work at the molecular level, with an emphasis on human biochemistry and molecular biology. We will focus initially on how genetic information is regulated in eukaryotes, including replication, transcription and translation, and molecular aspects of the cell cycle, mitosis and meiosis. Then we will explore cellular metabolism and how cells extract and store energy from fuels like fats and carbohydrates, how the use of fuels is modulated in response to exercise, starvation and disease, and how other key metabolites are processed. The advanced laboratory component will provide students with an authentic research laboratory experience while in the theory component, current research topics will be presented in a problem-based format through tutorial sessions. This material will be assessed by creative student-centered activities supported by eLearning platforms.

Unit details and rules

Unit code BCMB2901
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
BCHM2072 or BCHM2972 or MBLG2071 or MBLG2971 or BMED2405 or BCMB2001 or MEDS2003
A mark of at least 70 from (BIOL1XX7 or MBLG1XX1) and (CHEM1XX1 or CHEM1903)
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Matthew Clemson,
Lecturer(s) Alice Huang,
Giselle Yeo,
Matthew Clemson,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
Final exam
Final exam for all lectures, practicals and tutorials.
50% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Online task Electronic laboratory notebook
Spec/cloning 5% ELMA/cloning 5% ELMA Design 10% PCR/cloning 5% Electro 5%
30% Multiple weeks Notebooks completed after each practical
Outcomes assessed: LO7 LO11 LO10 LO9 LO8
Tutorial quiz Metabolism Quiz
Short multiple-choice quiz related to lecture concepts
5% Week 06
Due date: 28 Mar 2024 at 23:59

Closing date: 28 Mar 2024
30 minute quiz
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Assignment Cloning presentation
Recorded presentation about new cloning techniques
10% Week 09
Due date: 28 Apr 2024 at 23:59
Five-minute video
Outcomes assessed: LO7 LO11
Tutorial quiz Molecular Biology Quiz
Short multiple-choice quiz related to lecture concepts
5% Week 13
Due date: 24 May 2024 at 23:59

Closing date: 24 May 2024
30 minute quiz
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO7 LO6 LO5

Assessment summary

Detailed information of the contribution of each assessment task to the final mark can be found on Canvas.

Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN): One write-up for each of the four main practical classes, and a final assessment in assay design in week 7. The write-ups need to be completed 7 days after the practical session.

Quizzes: Multiple choice questions based on the lecture material. The first quiz will be for metabolism lectures and the second quiz will be for molecular biology lectures.

Cloning Presentation (BCMB2901): This will involve presenting a 5-minute video about a cloning technique.

Final Exam: This will cover all material from lectures, practicals and tutorials. There are multiple choice and short answer questions.

Final exam: This assessment is compulsory and failure to attend, attempt, or submit will result in the award of an AF grade.

If a second replacement exam is required, this exam may be delivered via an alternative assessment method, such as a viva voce (oral exam). The alternative assessment will meet the same learning outcomes as the original exam. The format of the alternative assessment will be determined by the unit coordinator.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Mastery of topics showing extensive integration and ability to transfer knowledge to novel contexts; treatment of tasks shows an advanced synthesis of ideas; demonstration of initiative, complex understanding and analysis; work is very well presented; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to an outstanding level


75 - 84

Excellent achievement, consistent evidence of deep understanding and application of knowledge in biochemistry; treatment of tasks shows advanced understanding of topics; demonstration of initiative, complex understanding and analysis; work is well-presented; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to a superior level


65 - 74

Confident in explaining biochemistry processes, with evidence of solid understanding and achievement; occasional lapses indicative of unresolved issues; treatment of tasks show a good understanding of topic; work is well-presented with a minimum of errors; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to a high level


50 - 64

Satisfactory level of engagement with and understanding of topic; some inconsistencies in understanding and knowledge of biochemistry; work is adequately presented, with some errors or omissions, most criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to an adequate level


0 - 49

Unsatisfactory achievement and engagement with the biochemistry discipline; inadequate understanding or fundamental misunderstanding of topics; most criteria and learning outcomes not clearly or adequately addressed or achieved; lack of effort/involvement in the unit

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

Support for students

The Support for Students Policy 2023 reflects the University’s commitment to supporting students in their academic journey and making the University safe for students. It is important that you read and understand this policy so that you are familiar with the range of support services available to you and understand how to engage with them.

The University uses email as its primary source of communication with students who need support under the Support for Students Policy 2023. Make sure you check your University email regularly and respond to any communications received from the University.

Learning resources and detailed information about weekly assessment and learning activities can be accessed via Canvas. It is essential that you visit your unit of study Canvas site to ensure you are up to date with all of your tasks.

If you are having difficulties completing your studies, or are feeling unsure about your progress, we are here to help. You can access the support services offered by the University at any time:

Support and Services (including health and wellbeing services, financial support and learning support)
Course planning and administration
Meet with an Academic Adviser

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Introduction + Introduction to Metabolism; 2. Fuel Selection During Exercise; 3. Fatty Acid and Glucose Oxidation Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Introduction to labs Tutorial (1 hr) LO7 LO10
Week 02 1. Electron Transport Chain and Oxidative Phosphorylation; 2. Glycogenolysis, Lipolysis and Gluconeogenesis; 3. Gluconeogenesis, Proteolysis and Ketone Body Synthesis Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2
1. Spectrophotometry; 2. Cloning - Ligation Practical (4 hr) LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 03 1. Regulation of Pathways; 2. Gluconeogenesis in Detail; 3. Glycemic Responses and Glycogenesis Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
1. Spectrophotometry; 2. Cloning - Ligation Tutorial (1 hr) LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 04 1. Lipogenesis and Pentose Phosphate Pathway; 2. Lipoprotein and Cholesterol Metabolism; 3. Nitrogen Metabolism Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
1. Enzyme-linked Metabolite Assay (ELMA); 2. Cloning - Transformation Practical (4 hr) LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 05 1. Integration of Metabolism; 2. Metabolism Revision 1; 3. Metabolism Revision 2 Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
1. Enzyme-linked Metabolite Assay (ELMA); 2. Cloning - Transformation Tutorial (1 hr) LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 06 1. Metabolism Revision 3; 2. Metabolism Q&A; 3. Theory of Practical Revision Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
ELMA Design assay Practical (4 hr) LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 07 1. Introduction to molecular biology Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 08 1. Nucleic acid structure 2. Prokaryotic replication 3. Eukaryotic replication Lecture (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO7
1. Genotyping PCR; 2. Cloning - Plasmid Isolation Practical (4 hr) LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 09 1. DNA synthesis in the lab 2. The eukaryotic genome Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6
1. Genotyping PCR; 2. Cloning - Plasmid Isolation Tutorial (1 hr) LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 10 1. Prokaryotic transcription 2. Eukaryotic transcription 3. Post-transcriptional processing Lecture (3 hr) LO5 LO6
DNA electrophoresis of amplicon and plasmid identification Practical (4 hr) LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 11 1. Translation in prokaryotes 2. Translation in eukaryotes 3. Translational regulation Lecture (3 hr) LO6 LO7
DNA electrophoresis of amplicon and plasmid identification Tutorial (1 hr) LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 12 1. Molecular biology techniques 1 2. Molecular biology techniques 2 3. Molecular biology techniques 3 Lecture (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 13 1. Molecular biology revision I 2. Molecular biology revision II 3. Molecular biology revision III Lecture (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Attendance and class requirements

All lectures, practicals and tutorials are delivered live. Attendance for all practicals and tutorials is compulsory. Lecture attendance is optional. All lectures will be recorded and made available.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. describe in detail the main anabolic and catabolic processes in the cell and discuss how variations in energy demand and supply affect these processes
  • LO2. compare and contrast the integration of anabolic and catabolic processes in the cells and predict how perturbations to these processes, including fuel selection and genetic mutation, affect the cell and whole organism
  • LO3. summarise the catabolic and anabolic fates of dietary nitrogen and predict how the synthesis and degradation of nitrogenous biopolymers are affected in contexts such as starvation, diabetes and cancer
  • LO4. describe the complexity of the eukaryotic genome and its structure in detail and identify the key constituent elements
  • LO5. outline the specific processes by which genetic information is transmitted from one generation to the next and analyse the flow of this information within the cell
  • LO6. describe and evaluate the steps involved in gene transcription and translation and evaluate the different ways by which gene expression can be regulated
  • LO7. evaluate the main concepts and power of modern molecular biology techniques and select the appropriate technique for specific applications in life science and medical research
  • LO8. explain, with examples, the difference between qualitative and quantitative measurements; obtain quantitative measurements of metabolite concentrations and enzyme activities, in an accurate and reproducible manner
  • LO9. adapt, develop and trouble-shoot recognised procedures for novel contexts and requirements
  • LO10. assess the quality of, interpret and draw conclusions from data obtained in the laboratory
  • LO11. summarise and identify the key points from topical biochemical data from a number of published sources; synthesise and communicate the findings.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

In response to student feedback: 1. the number of assessments has been reduced; 2. the tutorials support the practical assessments; 3. additional revision sessions will be delivered in weeks 6 and 13

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


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