UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Fundamental Biosciences

Course Code
Level MSc
Credits 15 credits
Module Tutor
Dr Darren Nesbeth
Three-hour written examination (70%)
Two pieces of coursework (30%)


The course provides students who have zero OR basic life science background with a rigorous introduction to those elements of the biosciences likely to have most relevance to interdisciplinary work in fields such as engineering or applied chemistry. The course also aims to introduce students to the requirements of bioscience research and to encourage them to develop skills they will need to succeed when collaborating with life scientists or carrying out biological research themselves in future.

Learning Outcomes

Following completion of the course, students will have developed knowledge understanding of the following aspects of the biosciences:

  • DNA and 'omic' data
  • Protein structure and function as it relates to enzymes, antibodies and misfolding
  • The prokaryotae and archaea
  • Metabolism and associated analytical techniques
  • Mammalian cell biology
  • Stem cell biology
  • Virus biology
  • Vaccines and Immunity
  • Yeast biology

Learning Hours


Lectures: 30h
Case studies/practicals: 10h


The Module is divided into seven major themes; recombinant DNA technology, proteins, bacteria, metabolism, mammalian cells, stem cells, yeast and vaccines. Each topic will be introduced in a way that assumes no previous knowledge of the area. However, the content will advance rapidly to the level of rigour appropriate for Masters level. The topics have been selected to develop a broad palette of bioscience knowledge that has maximal utility at the interface of disciplines in both research and professional settings. As such the most widely-used materials of bioscience; viruses, bacteria, yeast and mammalian cells, are explained in fine biological detail, as are the most important tools; DNA and protein.