Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Nanoscale Processes in Biology
Code CHEM226
Coordinator Prof M Brust
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2016-17 Level 5 FHEQ Second Semester 7.5

Pre-requisites before taking this module (or general academic requirements):

Year 1 of the MChem or BSc program 


The aim of this module is to provide students with basic knowledge in cell biology, in particular, aspects of relevance to Nanotechnology. Students will be able to discuss the key nanoscale processes of life, i.e. light and dark reactions in photosynthesis, the respiratory chain, the ATP synthase reaction, the sodium/potassium pump, kinesin and microtubles, membrane transport, action potential, synaptic signalling, protein sorting and g-protein signalling.

Learning Outcomes

ability to assess the role of molecular structure and nanoscale organisation for the function of biological membranes and membrane bound processes in different scenarios, i.e. signal transduction in nerve cells, respiratory processes in mitochondria, photosynthesis in chloroplasts and cell communication.

ability to discuss the importance of nanoscale organisation of sub-cellular structures.

ability to relate molecular scale conformation changes to nanoscale organisation and micro- and macroscopic motion caused by molecular motors in biological systems. 

ability to predict membrane potentials from the application of the Nernst Donnan Equation

ability to relate basic electrical and electrochemical processes to complex physiological phenomena.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Lecture -


Biological Nanostructures and their Function

  • Self-organisation phenomena in biological systems
  • Viruses
  • Cells, membranes and organelles
  • Neurons and synapses
  • Signal transduction in biological systems
  • Ion channels and pumps
  • Molecular motors (k inesin, actin-myosin, etc.)
  • Nanostructuration of Life
  • Physico-Chemical phenomena on the nanoscale (membrane potentials, signal transduction, catalysis, molecular motion and transport)

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.
Explanation of Reading List:

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 15

Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 60


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Unseen Written Exam  90  second  80  Yes  Standard UoL penalty applies  Exam Notes (applying to all assessments) - none 
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Coursework      20  Yes  Standard UoL penalty applies  assignment home work