Cell biology explores the fascinating and diverse world of cells, from single-celled micro-organisms to the specialised cells that form complex tissues in plants and animals. It develops the key aspects of cell and molecular biology introduced in Exploring science (S104) and Science and health: an evidence-based approach (SDK100). The origins of cells and the generation of cell diversity, as well as the common features of cellular structure and function – how they obtain energy, synthesise new molecules, communicate, proliferate and survive – are explored. There is an emphasis on the fundamental importance of cell biology in modern science, particularly in relation to cell technologies and health.
What you will study
The module is structured as three blocks, each comprising a printed book and supporting multimedia, including video, animations and interactive activities, all delivered via a website.
The first block, Generating Diversity, begins with a discussion of current theories about the origins and evolution of cells, and an exploration of the diversity seen among modern day cells. You will then look in detail at the subcellular structures where essential cell processes take place. You’ll also be introduced to genetics; how characteristics are inherited, and how the information in a cell’s genome directs and controls the synthesis of thousands of different proteins, the versatile molecules that form much of the cell’s structure and perform many of its functions.
In the second block, Working Cells, you will consider in more detail the molecular and structural basis for many of the biochemical activities that are common to all cells: the structure and function of proteins; the role of cell membranes; transport of substances into and out of cells and between different parts of the cell; how cells capture and use energy; and how cells transmit, receive and respond to signals from their environment.
The final block, Challenging Cells starts by exploring the life and death of cells with reference to disease and other abnormal processes – how cells proliferate, age and die, and the mechanisms that allow cells in a complex organism to diversify into different specialised forms. Through a series of brief case studies you will look at the application of cell and molecular biology to health science and biotechnology. These include topics related to gene technology, stem cell technology, novel antimicrobial agents and microbial fuel cells.
By the end of the module you will be able to:
- demonstrate a broad understanding of fundamental concepts, principles and theories relating to cell biology, genetics and microbiology
- appreciate that our knowledge of complex cellular functions is based on observation and experiment
- appreciate the importance of cell biology in modern technologies and medicine.
This is an OU level 2 module and you will need to have study skills appropriate for this level of science study, obtained either by OU level 1 study with the OU, or with another Higher Education Institution. You are likely to find parts of this module difficult if you have no knowledge of biology.
If you are new to study at a higher education level, we recommend that you have studied one of our key introductory OU level 1 modules – Exploring science (S104) (now discontinued) or Science and health: an evidence based approach (SDK100) – before this OU level 2 module.
We strongly recommend that you check whether or not your background and experience are sufficient to give you a sound basis on which to tackle this module, since we have found that students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully and get the most enjoyment out of the module. Our booklet Are you ready for S294? provides more detailed guidance; this can be viewed or printed as a PDF.
If you are interested in studying this module as part of our foundation degree or diploma of higher education in analytical science, please note that entry to these qualifications is restricted to students who are employed in an appropriate setting and are being supported in their practice learning by their employer.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
Three printed books. Study guide, activities, glossary, assignments, forums and other resources all provided via a dedicated website.
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.
A desktop or laptop computer with either:
- Windows 7 or higher
- macOS 10.7 or higher
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.
Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.