UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Course Code
Module Tutor
Professor John Ward
Moodle tests (2) - 50%
Practical reports (2) - 50%
Prerequisites BENG101P


The module will aim to introduce and teach the major concepts of biochemistry to first year Biochemical Engineering and other Engineering students.  The fundamentals of the chemical structures of DNA, RNA, Protein, carbohydrates and lipids and how they pertain to the work and needs of a Biochemical Engineer will be taught.  Basic cell structures using pertinent examples from microorganisms and eukaryotes and basic metabolism such as glycolysis, energy metabolism, thermodynamics, amino acid metabolism, nitrogen metabolism within different cell types will be taught. 

The module will cover the expression of genetic information, transcription, translation and gene structure and control, as well as enzymology, kinetics, equilibria, the use of proteins, structural biology and bioinformatics.

Learning Hours


Lectures 27h
Seminars/problem classes/tutorials 4h
Laboratory 18h
Independent project work 8h
Required written work (essays/reports) 30h
E-learning tutor led contact 8h
E-learning student led contact 18h


  • Introduction – what is biochemistry and how does it relate to the Biochemical Engineering degree (this will be revisited in places through the course and at the end)
  • The major biological molecules: DNA and RNA, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and small molecules (metabolites).
  • DNA structure, replication and information flow. RNA and translation.
  • Proteins and enzymes. Enzymology and kinetics
  • Enzymes in metabolic pathways – flux and metabolism, thermodynamics of metabolism.
  • Energy generation.
  • Major metabolic pathways – cell growth and metabolism.
  • Cellular structures – examples from bacteria (e.g. cell walls), size shape; eukaryotes – yeast mammalian cells – internal structures.
  • Genetics – how it leads into the construction and use of recombinant DNA.
  • Expression of proteins, purification of proteins.