BCHM253-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Cell Biology I

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


Internal organisation of the cell. The course will build on the introduction to cell biology in BCHM 111 (BIOL 111) and seek to develop further understanding of the internal workings of the cell.

The course will cover membrane structure, principles of membrane transport and the electrical properties of membranes, intracellular compartments and protein sorting, principles of the cytoskeleton, and the cell cycle and apoptosis. The primary aim of the course is to discuss the principles of cell biology at the level of the individual cell. The topics covered will give students a comprehensive grounding in cells as single entities. This will prepare students for the 3rd year cell biology course that will consider cells at a more advanced level, looking at cells in their social context and how they interact with other cells.

As all cells operate using the same basic machinery, experimental work on cells from “simpler” organisms has revolutionised our understanding of human biology and disease. Studies on the control of the cell cycle in yeast, for example have taught us much about human cancer. The use of such model organisms, which also include the wild mustard Arabidopsis, nematode worms and mice, is crucial in biological research and examples of a key process in cell biology from these organisms will be included. The genomes of these organisms have been sequenced, thus we know the molecular make-up of these cells. Genetics and biochemistry can tell us how various parts function individually and a key task for cell biologists is to understand how all of these interact together to form a dynamic living entity.

Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of the course, students are expected to be able to:
  • Gain a greater appreciation of the internal workings of the cell (assessment tasks: in term test and final exam). GP1
  • Appreciate the sophistication of mechanisms that have evolved to enable the workings of a cell, but at the same time be mindful that we still have much to discover (assessment tasks: laboratory assignments and final exam). GP1
  • Become familiar with modern cell biology experimental techniques (assessment tasks: laboratory assignments). GP1 and GP2
  • Understand the use of “model organisms” - appreciate how experimental findings made on seemingly “lower organisms” such as nematodes and yeast can lead to a better understanding of the complexity of human biology and disease (assessment tasks: laboratory assignments, in-term test and final exam). GP1 and GP3 (K3 and K5).
  • Appreciate how research in cell biology leads to a better understanding of disease and an understanding of the factors that are pertinent with respect to Māori health and the impact of colonisation. GP1 and GP3 (K5)
  • Gain an understanding of both the theory and the practice of cell biology which will make me attractive to potential employers (assessment tasks: laboratory assignments, in-term test and final exam). GP1 and GP2

    Pūkenga ngaio / Transferable skills
    The following skills are developed in this course:

  • Synthesise information. In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, generate your own understanding and develop your own viewpoint. Your understanding of the topics covered in the course will be achieved by reading information obtained from lectures, labs and assigned readings from textbooks and papers. In lectures we will discuss recent research papers and this will develop your abilities to identify the essential elements of research outputs - you will use these skills in report writing. GP1 and GP2
  • Collect experimental data. Important for research and in governmental and nongovernmental organizations. We will conduct research activities in the lab to provide both the real-world context for lectures and to develop hands-on skills in data collection. GP1 and GP3
  • Analyse data. Important for research, as well as in a number of private-sector organizations. This skill will be further developed when we assist you to analyse the data we generate in the lab. GP1 and GP3
  • Write a report on findings. Clear written communication is essential for most professional careers. We will provide you with guidelines on the elements of successful reports. GP1 and GP3


BIOL111 (BCHM111) or ENCH281. RP: 15 points of CHEM at 100 level


Equivalent Courses

Recommended Preparation

15 points of CHEM at 100 level

Timetable Note

It is compulsory to wear a lab coat in the laboratory and can be purchased at the beginning of the year.

To purchase approved safety glasses, lab or coats go to https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/science/current-students/shop/

The collection point for purchases is inside the southern entry to the Ernest Rutherford Building.
Ernest Rutherford, Chemistry Stores, 130A
Note: Covered shoes must be worn in the stores areas.

Disposable gloves are available in the laboratory for those who might need them.

2019 Course Evaluation
(Scoring used - 5 = strongly agree, 4 = agree, 3 = neutral, 2 = disagree, 1 = strongly disagree)
Question 1 - The materials provided helped me to understand what was required to succeed in this course: 4.7
Question 2 - The organisation of this course helped me learn: 4.54
Question 3 - I found the workload was appropriate to the level of the course: 4.58
Question 4 - I found the assessments thoughout the semester appropriate for the course: 4.6
Question 5 - When I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful: 4.54
Selected Comments: “Have finished the course feeling like I’ve really built on my knowledge from first year cell biology”; “I’m looking forward to taking cell biology 2 next semester. Thank you for doing such a great job”; “Feedback was very good”.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Ashley Garrill


Vanessa Morris and Claudia Meisrimler

Guest Lecturer

Dr Christoph Goebl

Lab Technician

Reijel Gardiner


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final Exam 52% on lectures 7-24
Lab assignments 30%
In-term Test 18% on lectures 1-6

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Alberts, Bruce; Molecular biology of the cell ; 6th; Garland Science, 2015.

This is an excellent textbook on cell biology – it is clearly written, comprehensive and authoritative. It also has very good figures which will be used extensively to illustrate the PowerPoint lectures in the course. It covers all aspects of the course, and includes many topics that there will not be time to mention at all. It is also used in the third year course in cell biology, BIOL351. It is available in soft-back from the University Bookshop at about $170.

If you are unable to purchase your own copy, new or second-hand, some copies of the text are available on 3 hour Restricted Loan. Copies of the 5th edition might also be available second-hand.

Lecturers in the course will give references for additional recommended reading (including references to journal articles).

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $951.00

International fee $4,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BCHM253 Occurrences

  • BCHM253-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023