BIOSCI 757 : Molecular Form, Function and Design


2023 Semester One (1233) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Biological systems highlight a complex interplay of thousands of molecules. Reviews fundamental studies focusing on molecular structure and function (structural biology), and designer molecules with applications in nanotechnology and biomedicine. Topics may include: enzyme evolution and engineering, protein design and assembly, rational drug and vaccine discovery, and protein structure and dynamics.

Course Overview

In any living organism, be it a single cell or a multi-cellular organism, proper function requires the interplay of thousands of molecules, each normally folded into a unique 3D structure and each performing its particular biological function efficiently and with great specificity. In this course, we take an in-depth look at specific topics in molecular biology, structural biology, biotechnology and medicine. We focus on the latest literature and cutting edge science in these fields, illustrating the unlimited value of studying molecular form and function and how we might design molecules to manipulate biological systems. 

The course is intended to familiarise you with strategies to assimilate information from research papers focused on molecules and their roles in biology and disease. This course follows on from the undergraduate School of Biological Sciences, Biochemistry and Cell Biology pathway. The skills developed in this course through your research, analysis, and written and oral presentations, will help you be an effective (science) communicator and will be invaluable transferable skills in your future careers in science and beyond.

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. Interpret summarise, and present both orally and in written reports, concepts from the scientific literature. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Argue one side of a hypothesis based on scientific data. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Evaluate diverse approaches to studying biological systems and identify limitations and gaps in knowledge, and propose solutions. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Formulate a coherent scientific argument through independent research and synthesising data from multiple sources. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Critically evaluate peer presentations by providing insightful and constructive feedback. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  6. Evaluate feedback and incorporate this into future assessments. (Capability 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  7. Extract key information from a journal article and write a concise summary demonstrating the research significance. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Presentations 22.5% Individual Coursework
Essay 30% Individual Coursework
Assignments 37.5% Individual Coursework
Peer Review 10% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Peer Review


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

While we have no formal Tuākana programme we can help connect you with other students and Tuākana to support your academic journey with us in the School of Biological Sciences. For more information and to find contact details for the Tuākana programme, please see 

Special Requirements

As a 100% internally assessed course with no tests or exam, each assessment is compulsory. 

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 24 hours of lectures and student presentation/workshop/discussion sessions, and up to 100 hours of reading and thinking about the content, working on assignments and peer review. 

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

  • Attendance is required at scheduled activities including presentations and group discussions to complete components of the course.
  • The learning activities including presentations and groups discussions will not be available as recordings.
  • The course will not include live online events.
  •  The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning 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.

Students are expected to source journal articles or other materials electronically before each session. 

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.

Staff welcome feedback on the course throughout the semester, including the SET evaluations. Please contact your course coordinator or student representative at any time with your feedback.

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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 course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 21/02/2023 10:32 a.m.