Course Title: Cellular Communication

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Cellular Communication

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Bundoora Campus


160H Medical Sciences


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016


Bundoora Campus


173H School of Health and Biomed


Sem 1 2017

Course Coordinator: Dr Martin Stebbing

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 7622

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 223.2.13

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Biology of the Cell (BIOL2272) and Developmental and Cell Biology (BIOL2319) or equivalent courses are required prior study. An understanding of the cellular nature of organisms and core concepts in cell biology, physiology and biochemistry is assumed.

Course Description

This course aims to present current aspects of cell biology with an emphasis on communication at the cellular level and relies on the theoretic basis provided by the BIOL2319 Developmental and Cell Biology. The content of this course will comprise a series of lectures, tutorials and practicals. It is designed to include work integrated learning in preparation for career paths in research as either a research assistant or higher degrees candidate.

Topics in cellular communication include cell membrane specialisations and signal transduction, cell-matrix signalling, neural and electrical signalling, major receptor types – how they are studied and what they do, intracellular signal strategies, second messenger pathways and examples of these in both health and disease.

In the practical component emphasis will be placed on developing skills in scientific report writing, including understanding and describing methods in cell biology, and the analysis and interpretation of ‘experimental’ results. In this way the course aims to foster an understanding of how research works and the rigour required to properly describe and present research results.


Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development


This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes for BP231Biomedical Science:

  1. Demonstrate a coherent understanding of Biomedical Science;
  2. Exhibit depth and breadth of scientific knowledge
  3. Critically analyse and solve scientific problems


Upon (successful) completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Relate how cells receive and transduce signals to orchestrate an appropriate response to maintain the functions of the organism.
  2. Interpret the significance of findings in cell biology for the identification of therapeutic targets in the treatment of disease.
  3. Apply and relate knowledge gained from other disciplines for instance physiology and biochemistry to the field of cell biology in industry and research. Communicating your understanding of cell biology and participating in scientific discourse.
  4. Interpret information presented in peer-reviewed international literature, including an appreciation of the methods and how they relate to lab work as well as the structure and reasoning behind hypothesis driven (empirical) research.
  5. Apply the scientific method to acquire, analyse and interpret cell biology data in experimental protocols and present those results in the form of a rigorous scientific report.
  6. Demonstrate the technical skills required for mammalian cell culture.

Overview of Learning Activities

        Lectures - will set the topic for each week and introduce you to the current level of understanding in cellular processes, starting with the cell membrane and progressing throughout the semester from the cell surface to the nucleus via many of the second messenger and protein signalling pathways.

  • Tutorials – in which you will be required to prepare answers to discussion questions posed by the lecture material or associated podcasts and these tutorial discussions may continue online using a discussion board.
  • Workshops - Each week there will also be either a Pre- or Post- practical workshop that will assist you to prepare for the practicals and develop skills in data analysis and report writing.
  • Practicals – which will include establishing a primary mammalian tissue culture and performing experiments to manipulate cultured cells and demonstrate intracellular signalling, using research techniques including microscopy and immunocytochemistry to study these processes. You will obtain experimental data that you will use to practice analysing and presenting scientific data in report form similar to that of a scientific publication.


Formal contact hours of, on average, 5 hours per week for one semester, comprised of lectures, tutorials, pracs and pre/post prac workshops. In addition you should expect to study independently for a further 5 hours per week including preparation for tutorials, participation in online discussions, self-directed study, data analysis and preparation of prac reports.

Overview of Learning Resources

There is no text that covers all of the material for this course, but students are recommended to consult two textbooks that cover much of the course content. The library has copies of reference texts for Culture of Animal Cells (Freshney) and Signalling Biology (Alberts et al). Reference materials in the form of articles from the international scientific literature and notes from lecture presentations will be made available on the course website via ’MyRMIT Studies". Practical manuals for each prac and weekly tutorial questions will also be made available in the same way.

Further resources can be found at

Overview of Assessment

☒This course has no hurdle requirements.

☐ All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Leaning & Teaching).

Assessment tasks


Early Assessment Task:  Practical Report 1

Weighting 4%

This assessment task supports CLOs 4, 5, & 6.

Assessment Task 2: Remaining Practical Reports

Weighting 36%

This assessment task supports CLOs 4, 5 & 6.

Assessment Task 2:  Midsemester test

Weighting 10%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, & 4.


Assessment Task 3: Tutorial Participation Mark

Weighting 10%

This assessment task supports CLO 1, 2, 3 & 4.

Assessment Task 5: End of Semester Exam

Weighting 40% 

This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2, 3 and 4.