BCHM305-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Protein Science

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


This course is designed to help you to understand how different proteins function and how biochemists seek to investigate protein structure and function. The course aims to introduce you to modern biochemical ideas and research, and will include a substantial amount of reading from the biochemical literature, as well as from your standard textbook.

The course is intended to complement courses such as BCHM306, BCHM338, BCHM339, BCHM381, BIOL330, BIOL313.  During the course our aim is to encourage and provide advice and feedback to enable you to develop skills in written and oral communication, and in the efficient acquisition of scientific information.

Learning Outcomes

  • Āhuatanga Taura / Graduate Profile This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop these UC Graduate Attributes (www.canterbury.ac.nz/study/graduate-profile/students/what-are-the-graduate-attributes/):
  • GP1 Critically competent in a core academic discipline.
  • GP2 Employable, innovative and enterprising.
  • GP3 Biculturally competent and confident: K3 Traditional and contemporary realities of Māori society.

    Hua ako / Course learning outcomes and Aromatawai / Associated assessment
    At the end of the course, students are expected to be able to:
  • Analyse and critically interpret experimental data (assessment task: tutorial data analysis exercises, test, exam). GP1 and GP2.
  • Explain, with detailed examples, how nature uses proteins and the relationship between a protein function and protein structure (assessment task: test, exam). GP1.
  • Explain the function of cellular membranes and the proteins that facilitate the transport of molecules and signalling processes across these membranes. (assessment task: exam). GP1.
    2 of 6
  • Present complex scientific ideas in a written form that can be understood by a wide audience (assessment task: review topic relevant to protein chemistry and present a research proposal that involves a partnership with a local iwi, as part of in term assessment). GP1 and GP2.
  • Provide examples to demonstrate an understanding of the scientific practice and principles of macromolecular science (assessment task: review, proposal and exam). GP1.
  • Synthesise and critically evaluate primary scientific literature to generate a clear and concise argument in support of a perspective (assessment task: evaluation of a research paper, as part of in term assessment). GP1 and GP2.

    Pūkenga ngaio / Transferable skills The following skills are developed in this course:
  • Experience in analysing protein science data generated using a variety of methods. We will have tutorials looking at the analysis of protein science data, and you will be given the opportunity to analyse novel data. GP1
  • Critical synthesis of information. In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, construct your own understanding and shape your own viewpoint. In tutorials, we solve current problems in protein science and/or discuss recent protein science research papers in a group environment. Together, these will develop your abilities to assess the quality of the information, and how methods are applied to research. GP1 and GP2.
  • Communicate science (spoken and written) to specialists and non-specialists in the general community, including iwi. In a tutorial and via in term assessment, we will consider the importance of partnership with Māori culture in developing research in New Zealand and appreciate how to engage and communicate effectively with iwi. GP2 and GP3 (K3).
  • Appreciate how to commercialise new ideas relevant to protein science. In lectures, we will cover issues relevant to the biotechnology industry and consider the pathways to commercialisation of your own ideas. (this skill maps to UC attribute: Employable, innovative and enterprising). GP2




Recommended Preparation

Timetable Note

Electronic Distribution of Course Material
All course material will be distributed on Learn. This will include
* course notices
* lecture handouts that will be available before the lectures.
* audio recordings of lectures (using ECHO360)

PROTEIN STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION (14 lectures & 6 tutorials, terms 1 and 2)
This section will start off with a review session covering the basic biological macromolecules before moving onto protein chemistry. We will learn about how proteins fold physically and biologically, as well as the how proteins unfold and misfold and the consequences of protein misfolding and aggregation. We will also cover methods for investigating protein interactions and protein structures. Lastly, we will work through case studies on how we apply various methods to understand how proteins function.
Lecturer: Vanessa Morris (8 lectures) and then Ren Dobson (6 lectures) (contact details as above).

Entrepreneurialism and COMMERICIALISATION (2 lectures, term 2)
There are many ways to develop a scientific career. One exciting avenue is to commercialise your own ideas, either as your own start-up, or as part of a company (such as a CRI) that is commercialising an idea developed in house. We will consider topics relevant to the commercialisation of scientific ideas, including: how to develop/recognise a new idea for a commercial outcome; appreciating intellectual property; and, appreciate the various pathways to commercialisation. We will hear from a leader in the biotechnology industry and reflect on a case study relevant to their experiences.
Lecturers: Ren Dobson (as above), Rachel Wright (rachel.wright@canterbury.ac.nz), plus a guest lecturer from industry.

MEMBRANE PROTEINS (8 lectures & 3 tutorials, term 2)
Membrane proteins. This section will build on the bioenergetic concepts that you learnt in the oxidative phosphorylation and photosynthesis sections of BCHM111 and BCHM222 and will be applied to membrane transport proteins. A number of these proteins will be covered, including the Na+/K+ ATPase, the H+ ATPase, the Ca2+ ATPase, Na+ and K+ ion channels and Na+/H+ antiporters. Signalling processes across membranes. In the tutorials, you will be given experimental data and that will allow you to identify specific proteins from that data and then devise a model to suggest how these may act in concert to enable an organism to survive an environmental stress.
Lecturer: Ashley Garrill

2022 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: 4.19
Question 2 - The organisation of this course helped me learn: 4.15
Question 3 - I found the workload was appropriate to the level of the course: 4.31
Question 4 - I found the assessments thoughout the semester appropriate for the course: 4.35
Question 5 - When I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful: 3.96
Selected Comments: “I have to say that from most of the assessments that I've done so far the PyMOL assignment was one of the most interesting and fun to do”, “Supplementary reading material for the assignments would have been useful. For example, a detailed pdf on how to use PyMol”, “The lecture notes are easy to follow and the lectures always emphasise important thing”.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Ashley Garrill


Renwick Dobson and Vanessa Morris


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
In-term assignments 30%
Final Exam 40%
Test 30%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Nelson, David L. , Cox, Michael M., Lehninger, Albert L; Lehninger principles of biochemistry ; 7th edition; W.H. Freeman, 2017.

Course links

Course Outline

Additional Course Outline Information

Assessment and grading system

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 BCHM305 Occurrences

  • BCHM305-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023