The cell is a dynamic system of interacting molecules that define life. An understanding of the workings of the cell enables an appreciation of both the capabilities and the limitations of living organisms whether animal, plant, fungus or microorganism. The convergence of cytology, genetics and biochemistry makes cell biology one of the most rapidly evolving disciplines in contemporary biology.
In this unit students investigate the workings of the cell from several perspectives. They explore the importance of the insolubility of the plasma membrane in water and its differential permeability to specific solutes in defining the cell, its internal spaces and the control of the movement of molecules and ions in and out of such spaces. Students consider base pairing specificity, the binding of enzymes and substrates, the response of receptors to signalling molecules and reactions between antigens and antibodies to highlight the importance of molecular interactions based on the complementary nature of specific molecules.
Students study the synthesis, structure and function of nucleic acids and proteins as key molecules in cellular processes. They explore the chemistry of cells by examining the nature of biochemical pathways, their components and energy transformations. Cells communicate with each other using a variety of signalling molecules. Students consider the types of signals, the transduction of information within the cell and cellular responses. At this molecular level students study the human immune system and the interactions between its components to provide immunity to a specific antigen.
This unit is delivered in Year 12.
Assessment tasks will be designed to reinforce and extend knowledge in accordance with each unit’s learning outcomes, including the setting of practical application tasks designed to provide evidence of competence outcomes, within periodic and scheduled timelines. Students will be expected to demonstrate the following knowledge:
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain the dynamic nature of the cell in terms of key cellular processes including regulation, photosynthesis and cellular respiration, and analyse factors that affect the
rate of biochemical reactions.
On completion of this unit the student should be able to apply a stimulus-response model to explain how cells communicate with each other, outline immune responses to invading pathogens, distinguish between the different ways that immunity may be acquired, and explain how malfunctions of the immune system cause disease.
The qualified trainer and assessor will provide teaching and learning materials as required in the form of workbooks produced by the Polytechnic and/or via the Polytechnic e-learning system.
This unit is not compulsory for any specific course. Depending on the course you study, this unit may be taken as an elective.