Course Title: Cell Structure and Function

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Cell Structure and Function

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2015


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 1 2020

Course Coordinator: Assoc Prof. Donald Wlodkowic

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 7157

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Bundoora West campus 223.01.32A

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

This is an introductory enabling course requiring no formal prerequisites, but you will find that knowledge of biology and chemistry at VCE level will be an advantage.

Course Description

This course is intended as an introduction to biological structure and function at the cellular level. This course is designed to provide you with an overview of how cells and their component parts are structured and interact to allow organisms to carry out their basic functions.

The topics covered include: origin of modern Cell Theory describing what are common characteristics of all cell types; microscopy as a tool to study cell biology; macromolecules and molecular diversity; cell and membrane structure; organelle structures and functions; cellular energetics and thermodynamics; membranes and movement of molecules; enzymes and enzyme regulation; respiration, fermentation and photosynthesis; cell signalling; DNA replication, gene expression and protein synthesis; cell division and regulation of the cell cycle.



Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program learning Outcomes (PLO) in BP229 Bachelor of Science, BP226 Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology), BH101 bachelor of Science (Applied Sciences) Dean Scholars (Hons)and the double degrees BP293 Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology)/Bachelor of Biomedical Science, BP305 Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Business (Business Management) and BH087 Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering)(Hons)/Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology)

You will 

2 Scientific knowledge

2.1. exhibit depth and breadth of biological knowledge by demonstrating well-developed understanding of biological sciences.

 3 Inquiry and problem solving

3.1. critically analyse and solve problems in biological sciences by gathering, synthesizing and critically evaluating information from a range of sources.

3.4. critically analyse and solve problems in biological sciences by collecting, accurately recording, interpreting, and drawing conclusions from scientific data.

4 Communication

4.1. be an effective communicator of biological sciences by effectively communicating scientific results, information, or arguments using a range of modes (oral, written, visual) for a variety of purposes and audiences.

5 Personal and professional responsibility

5.1. be accountable for individual learning and scientific work in environmental science by being an independent and self-directed learner.

5.2. be accountable for individual learning and scientific work by working effectively, responsibly, ethically, and safely in an individual or team context.


On successful completion of this course you should be able to: 

  1. Explain the concept of cells as the fundamental building blocks of life and their shared characteristics;
  2. explain the role of various classes of macromolecules in cells;
  3. explain the way in which cell membranes and organelles contribute to cellular functions;
  4. explain mechanisms of intracellular protein and macromolecule transport;
  5. explain the mechanisms and energy flows underpinning cellular metabolism including fundamentals of cell bioenergetics, enzymatic biocatalysis, cellular respiration and photosynthesis;
  6. explain how DNA is a store of genetic information and how this is transcribed into proteins;
  7. explain how cells communicate and how intracellular signal transduction occurs;
  8. explain the way in which cells divide to enable growth and reproduction and the genetic controls on division;
  9. undertake laboratory exercises useful to investigating cellular structure and processes and interpret experimental data and draw appropriate conclusions based on theoretical concepts;
  10. demonstrate practical and conceptual knowledge of cell biology to undertake further studies in genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology or related fields.


Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities included in this course are: 

  1. attendance at lectures where syllabus material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples;
  2. completion of laboratory exercises designed to give further practice in the application of theory and procedures, and to give feedback on student progress and understanding;
  3. critical reflection on laboratory results, particularly when the results aren’t as you expect;
  4. work in small groups to develop written and oral communication skills and interpersonal awareness;
  5. completion of written assignments consisting of numerical and other problems requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter;
  6. private study, working through the course as presented in classes and learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems.

Total Study Hours

A total of 120 hours of study is expected, comprising:

Teacher-guided hours (36.5 hours): Two hours of lectures per week (24 hours) and 12.5 hours of laboratory sessions over 5 weeks.

Student-directed hours (84 hours): About 7 hours per week of independent study is recommended.


Overview of Learning Resources

The course website on Canvas provides a syllabus, lecture slides, lecture video recordings, laboratory practical handouts and supporting material, links to animations and videos, online assessments, and links to additional resources. A prescribed textbook is required.

Overview of Assessment

Note that: 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 (Learning & Teaching).


This course will be assessed by a series of module quizzes, practical class reports and a final examination to be conducted during the university’s formal semester exam period.


  1. Online quizzes and one mid-semester invigilated in-class test (20%)

These assessments support CLOs 1- 8.


  1. Laboratory practical tasks (hurdle) (30%)

These assessments support CLOs 9 and 10. 


  1. Final exam (50%)

This assessment supports CLOs 1- 8.


Note a hurdle requirement of a minimum of four out of five practical classes must be attended and answer sheets submitted in order to pass the course. Practical classes are a hurdle as you need to demonstrate that you operate SAFELY in the laboratory. You will put your fellow students at risk unless you attain a minimum level.