Module code: VMS1003

Module Overview

Understanding the molecular aspects of living cells is of vital importance for many other aspects of the veterinary curriculum. This module will combine lecture-based learning with scientific laboratory practical sessions. Initial laboratory skills will be acquired and techniques carried out will be relevant across various disciplines especially physiology and histology and pathology. The basic concepts of physiology will be introduced such as homeostasis of systems. 


Module provider

School of Veterinary Medicine

Module Leader

WILKINSON William (Vet Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 3

Independent Learning Hours: 99

Seminar Hours: 4

Practical/Performance Hours: 12

Captured Content: 32

Module Availability

Semester 1

Module content


Practical session

Pro/eukaryotic cell structure and biochemistry of lipids

Visualising the cell – light microscopy, electron-microscopy

Plasma membrane structure and transport

Mitochondria and energy biochemistry and carbohydrates

Electron transport chains and proton pumps

Intracellular vesicular transport

Cytoskeleton and molecular motors

Histological tissue staining – cells in context –

Cell communication - Receptors

Receptors and Signalling Pathways 1 (Cell communication – cellular events controlled by signalling pathways, local versus distant control, cell surface or intracellular receptors, cytokines and their structure

Receptors and Signalling Pathways 2: The most important receptor types and function: ligate-gated ion channels, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and nuclear receptors

Cytology preparations using and seeing staining techniques

Receptors and Signalling Pathways 3: Endocrine receptors and function of hormones and their structure

Cell cycle

Cell death

Stem cells

Genes and Inheritance, Mendelian principles

DNA, RNA extraction

Genes and Breeding for specific traits

Mitosis, Meiosis

Nucleus - Chromosomes

Nucleosomes, Chromatin, Genes, DNA and their biochemistry

DNA replication

PCR and agarose gels

DNA Replication controls, recombination and repair

Transcriptional control / gene expression


Posttranscriptional modification, mRNA

Translation - mRNA

Biochemistry of Protein synthesis, structure and folding

Enzymes + Hormones

Cellular mechanisms of deviance: oncogenes and cancer, protein mis-folding and oxidative stress

Mutations, polymorphisms, genetic maps and SNPs, sequencing and phylogeny


Physiological concepts – homeostasis, buffering systems, Henderson Hasselbalch equation, osmotic pressures etc.



Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

Resits for the poster assignment will involve a written report in related subject area to be determined by the module coordinator.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

Their understanding of cell structure and function as well as basic genetic (to be assessed within the written examination and poster)

Development of literature searching, critical thinking, presenting and writing skills in the area of applied genetics (to be assessed within the poster)

An understanding of microscope use and cell structure and the role of the microscope in diagnosis in veterinary practice (to be assessed within the written examination)


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Written examination – MCQ & Short answer questions - 80% (2 hours)

Group poster assignment – 20 %


Formative assessment and feedback

Formative assessment will take place during the practical sessions. The students will be provided useful feedback that will help them to prepare for the written examination.

Module aims

  • Provide an understanding of cells and how they work
  • Provide an understanding of the genetic factors in animal breeding
  • Provide students with a basic knowledge of physiological principles
  • Develop an appreciation for physiological feedback, control and regulatory mechanisms 

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Apply basic scientific knowledge of cell biology and genetics in the context of the animal bodyRCVS KU 1, RCVS KU 2 KPT
2 Combine topical scientific knowledge in genetics with clinical implications such as animal breeding for certain phenotype characteristics RCVS KU 1, RCVS KU 2 KPT
3 Apply physiological principles to understand homeostasis RCVS KU 1, KU 3 KPT
4 Gain basic scientific laboratory skills RCVS KU 2 PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Develop the practical laboratory skills needed for progression in the Structure and Function modules

Provide the students some insight into use of on line learning resources

The learning and teaching methods include:

Lectures = 34 hours

Practical session in the laboratory = 12 hours

2 x Case-based discussions/on line sessions – 3 hours = 6 hours

Total 60 hours contact time



Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: VMS1003

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Veterinary Medicine and Science BVMSci (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.