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Unit information: Protein Assemblies and Molecular Machines in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Protein Assemblies and Molecular Machines
Unit code BIOCM0018
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Stephens
Open unit status Not open

Advanced Cell Biology BIOC30601 The Dynamic Proteome BIOC30604 Cellular Information BIOC30602 Advanced Options in Biochemistry BIOC30600, Research and Communication Skills BIOC30001, Research Training BIOC30002


All Year 4 units within the MSci

School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


Lead Contact: Professor Mark Dillingham

This unit will cover the methods used to study the structure and function of molecular machines and will focus on showcasing a number of Bristol’s research strengths in this area. Using a case-based approach, students will learn how to identify and isolate important macromolecular assemblies and how to characterise their structure and cellular function.

Students will cover three main areas:

  • Methods to define the composition of macromolecular complexes
  • Integrated techniques to analyse the structure of macromolecular complexes
  • Approaches to studying the functions of macromolecular complexes

Each topic will be covered over a 2-week period and students will be expected to attend keynote lectures before being set a series of recent research papers to read and synthesize. They will be given opportunities to discuss and consolidate their knowledge through workshops and plenary lectures.

Over the course of the unit students will be expected to

  • Develop scientific ideas
  • Investigate the scientific process
  • Critique and synthesize ideas
  • Take an evidence-based approach to solving scientific problems

Intended learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  1. Gain an in-depth understanding of how genomic and proteomic data are interpreted in the context of macromolecular complexes
  2. Evaluate methodologies and approaches used in the study of macromolecular complexes
  3. Appraise the scientific literature in the field of macromolecular complexes
  4. Formulate approaches to studying macromolecular complexes

Teaching details

Lectures and workshops

Assessment Details

For learning (formative)

Workshop participation

Mock exam question sessions

Of learning (summative)

Written exam (60%): a 3 hour exams consisting of literature comprehension/data handling questions based on prior reading plus unseen short answers.

Coursework (40%):

  • 20% A submitted PowerPoint file and associated 15-minute oral presentation on the architecture and mechanism of a protein assembly of the student’s choosing.
  • 20% “News and Views”-type article based on one of a selection of recent high impact papers.

Reading and References

Reviews and articles from the primary scientific Literature