UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Applied Cell and Molecular Biology

Course Code
Level MSc
Credits 15 credits
Module Tutors
Dr Darren Nesbeth and Dr Ivan Wall
Two-hour examination (70%)
Coursework (30%)


As biologics and cell-based therapies become an increasingly important product class in the pharmaceutical industry so the skill sets of process engineers must expand to suit. The ability to acquire manipulate human cells and manage DNA-based tools, conventionally restricted to product development, is now being applied to process development within a ‘whole bioprocess’ approach. This course will provide an understanding of the science and techniques of cell and molecular biology as they relate to development of cell-based platform technologies. Application themes include host cells for biopharmaceutical manufacturing (biosimilars, vaccines), cells as therapeutics within regenerative medicine and development of whole cell biocatalysts in industrial biotechnology.

Learning Outcomes

Following completion of the course, students will have an understanding of how to:

  • utilise basic recombinant DNA techniques
  • communicate with life science specialists
  • apply the biology of yeast, mammalian and bacterial cells for industrial uses
  • understand the basic biology of human stem cells
  • relate molecular biology to challenges in biochemical engineering

Learning Hours


Lectures and seminars: 24h
Practical training and assessment:  40h


Stem cell biology, DNA structure, replication, central dogma, genetic code, transcription, RNA structure, translation, tRNA and ribosome structure, nascent polypeptides, proteins, plasmids, chromosomes, genomes, cultivation of mammalian, yeast and bacterial cells, human cells as therapeutics, gene syntax in mammalian, yeast and bacterial cells, transfection of human cells, transformation of yeast
and bacterial cells, DNA analytics

Laboratory reports:

  • design of preparative PCR strategy ligating PCR fragment into mammalian expression plasmid
  • bacterial transformation
  • diagnostic digest of resultant replicons

Examination of knowledge and understanding of call and molecular biology themes and how they relate to biochemical engineering.