BIOSCI 746 : The Molecular Machinery of The Cell


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The experimental investigation and modelling of protein behaviour at the molecular level, in order to explain cellular biology and facilitate protein engineering. Topics addressed may include binding, transport, catalysis, chemical modification, and dynamics. A sound understanding of BIOSCI 350 or equivalent is assumed.

Course Overview

Proteins are nature’s robots - the self-operating nano-scale machines on which all cellular biology depends. As proteins function, they may interact with other molecules, undertake directed and non-directed movement, promote chemical reactions, become chemically modified, and fluctuate significantly in conformation. This paper addresses the experimental investigation and modeling of such basic molecular processes, which can explain the biological activities of proteins, and facilitate protein engineering. The first half of the course develops some of the needed theory, the second half of the course is focussed on practical applications. 

This course leads on from the undergraduate Biochemistry and Cell Biology Pathway in Biological Sciences. Students planning a research career in molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, or structural biology will find this paper develops many of the skills needed in these fields.  

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Comprehend, analyze and explain some simple physical models that describe protein behaviour (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Comprehend, analyze and explain some of the experimental techniques we use to probe protein behavior. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Evaluate, and interpret experimental data collected using a variety of biophysical and biochemical techniques, using simple physical models (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 50% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3
Final Exam

Special Requirements

Must achieve an overall passing mark in the course.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 22 hours of lectures (11 x 2 hours),  50 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 90 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

The course lectures and tutorials will not be recorded. Lecture slides and other learning materials will be posted to Canvas 
Group discussions & tutorials will be held on campus. The course will not include live online events 
Attendance on campus is required for the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled according to  a standard weekly timetable

A remote version of the course can be made available to students located overseas because of border restrictions, or those with an exemption to study remotely.

Learning Resources

There is no single textbook which is used throughout the course. Staff will discuss papers, and provide limited readings from textbooks as appropriate.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

COVID19 considerations

Alert Level 1: Course delivered normally, as specified in delivery mode
Alert Levels 2-4: You will not be required to attend in person.  All teaching activities and assessments will be delivered remotely


Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 29/01/2021 09:43 a.m.