Cell Biology

Course CodeBSC110
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Cell Biology

Cells are the basic unit of life. In this course, you'll study cell anatomy, organelles, cellular communication systems, and more. An essential foundation course for all people interested in human health, animal care and animal studies.

  • learn cell structure and processes including cell division and gene expression
  • feel confident using biological terminology
  • extend your knowledge to plant and animal cells
  • a foundation course for studying or working in any of the life sciences or related industries -from health and environmental sciences, to plant and animal sciences, general biology and biochemistry.

An introductory yet challenging course designed for everyone wanting to learn more about biology.

Comment from one of the Cell Biology Students:

" I have never found the staff at any other learning institution as supportive as the staff at ACS. This gives one a lot of peace of mind and confidence to go on - at every squeak from my side, you guys have always been there, immediately to sort me out. The feedback on my lessons has always been really good and meaningful and an important source of my learning. Thanks!..."
- Student with ACS

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Cells and Their Structure
    • Including: what is a cell, history of cell biology; prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells; cell shape and size; cell structure; the nucleus; the nucleolus; euchromatin and heterochromatin; the animal cell; the plant cell; human cells.
  2. Cell Chemistry
    • Including: cell chemical composition; carbohydrates; lipids; nucleic acids; proteins; enzymes; cell membranes; golgi apparatus.
  3. DNA, Chromosomes and Genes
    • Including: what is DNA, Chromosomes, Genes; DNA replication; telomeres and telomerase; genetics; case study in genetic inheritance; phenotype and genotype; gene mutations.
  4. Cell Division: Meiosis and Mitosis
    • Including: Mitosis and meiosis overview; mitosis; meiosis.
  5. Cell Membranes
    • Including: membranes; structure of cell membranes; movement of molecules through cell membranes; endocytosis; osmosis and filtration; hydrostatic pressure; active transport; electro-chemical gradient; nutrient and waste exchange in animal cells; mediated and non-mediated transport;.
  6. Protein Structure and Function
    • Including: protein structure; fibrous proteins; globular proteins; protein organisation; primary to quaternary structure; protein function.
  7. Protein Synthesis
    • Including: overview; the function of ribonucleic acid in protein synthesis; transcription and translation; initiation; elongation; termination.
  8. Food, Energy, Catalysis and Biosynthesis
    • Including: sources of energy; metabolism within the cell; catabolic metabolism; anabolic metabolism; ATP movement; Kreb's cycle; production and storage of energy; energy production pathways from different foods; biosynthesis of cell molecules; mitochondria; chloroplasts
  9. Intracellular Compartments, Transport and Cell Communication
    • Including: Cell communication; endocrine signalling; paracrine signalling; autocrine signalling; cytoskeleton; actin filaments; intermediate filaments; microtubules.
  10. The Cell Cycle and Tissue Formation
    • Including: the cell cycle; phases of the cell cycle; cell cycle regulation; cell death; cells to bodies; stem cells; animal tissues including muscle, connective, epithelial, nerve; blood.


  • Review basic cell structure and discuss the scope and nature of cell biology.
  • Describe the chemical components and processes of cells.
  • Describe the storage of genetic information within cells and how this information is passed on to the next generation.
  • Describe key concepts in molecular biology.
  • Discuss membrane structure and transport across cell membranes.
  • Discuss protein structure and function.
  • Describe and discuss protein synthesis.
  • Describe the significant processes involved in transfer and storage of energy in a cell.
  • Describe the significant processes that occur in cell communication and intracellular transport
  • Describe the life cycle of cells and how they combine to create different types of tissues

Learning about Cells is Fundamental to Many Different Jobs

Cells are the building blocks for all life: plants, animals and microorganisms. Gardeners, health professionals, farmers and veterinarians; all work with living cells every day - whether they reaqlize it or not. When they do realize it and understand cell biology better; they become far more effective in their work..

The word cell is derived from the Latin “cella” which means “small room”. Cells are the units from which all living organisms are built. Some organisms (e.g. bacteria) have only one cell in the entire organism. Others are multicellular. A human body can contain an estimated 100,000 billion cells.

Each cell is a self-contained and partially self-sufficient compartment designed to carry out a limited series of functions. While the structure and function of cells is extremely variable, their basic structure is similar. All cells are bound by an outer membrane and contain cytoplasm and DNA.

Why Cell Biology?

Cell biology is increasingly important in all of the life sciences. Many of the advancements in modern science are coming as a result of better understanding the components of a cell and how they function.

An understanding of cell biology is needed in jobs well beyond what most people think about.

What is a Cell Composed of?
 There are different ways of looking at this question. From one perspective, a cell is made up of different types of structures; but from another perspective, it is a range of different types of chemicals. You look at it from both of theses perspectives throughout this course.
Cells contain the following types of compounds: 
  • Of greatest abundance is water (H20), which accounts for 70% of the total cell mass. 
  • Organic molecules (carbon based), and
  • Soluble ions.
The fact that cells are mainly comprised of water is of crucial importance to life.  Water is a very unique molecule.  It is polar, which in chemistry means that one end is negatively charged and the other is positively charged.  This property lets water react with ions (that may be either negatively or positively charged) and with charged molecules by forming hydrogen bonds.  To further this, it also means that ions and charged molecules will be soluble in water while uncharged molecules will not.  You will realise the importance of this with regard to the structure of cellular components.
Also of great if not equal importance in cells are the unique organic molecules.  These include carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids.    These molecules make up approximately 80-80% of dry cellular weight.   
1. Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates include both monosaccharides (simple sugars such as glucose) and polysaccharides (eg: starch, glycogen, cellulose).
2. Lipids
Lipids are long chains of hydrocarbons with a carboxyl group (COO-) at one end.  These molecules may contain many carbon atoms, frequently 16 – 18 although this can vary, and may also occasionally be an odd number.   Simple lipids are fatty acids.  Fatty acids may be saturated where all the carbons are bonded to the maximum number of hydrogens or unsaturated which means they contain one or more double carbon bonds.  This fatty acid chain is non-polar.  This means that it is hydrophobic (water hating) and will not interact with water.  This is crucial in the formation of cell membranes.
3. Nucleic Acids
Nucleic Acids are the informational molecules of the cell. The two main nucleic acids in the cell are DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) being the genetic material of the cell and RNA (ribonucleic acid) which consists of different forms such as mRNA, rRNA and tRNA.  RNA is important in transcribing genetic information.
4. Proteins
Proteins are polymers constructed from approximately 20 different amino acids. Each of these amino acids has a distinctive side chain with characteristic properties.  Lesson 6 is devoted to the structure and function of proteins. 

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