BMS6082 - Practical Cell Biology (15 credits)


Module co-ordinators: Professor E Smythe and Dr. Mark Bass


This module aims to provide third level students with experience of research laboratory work in cell biology. In particular:

  • development and design of biological assays to measure a fundamental cellular process (endocytosis, cell motility)
  • acquisition of basic research skills
  • collection, interpretation and presentation of biological data


This practical module will provide students with experience of practical cell biology.  Students will be given the opportunity to establish and optimise ELISA-based assays for fundamental cellular processes, the endocytic pathway, Assays will be established for internalisation and recycling of transmembrane proteins. A variety of in vitro  assays will also be used to assess the role of Rho GTPases on the actin cytoskeleton in the context of cell adhesion and cell motility. Particular emphasis will be placed on the development, execution and interpretation of experimental protocols as is standard practice in a research laboratory.


By the end of this module students should be able to

  • understand the processes involved in intracellular trafficking of a cell-surface receptor through the endocytic pathway and how this may be measured
  • understand the contribution of the Rho family GTPases to control of the cytoskeleton, cell adhesion and cell motility and the approaches used to elucidate these functions
  • describe the principles of experimental design and the stages of development of a practical protocol
  • interpret and present data in a format often used in a research environment

Teaching Methods

During their independent study students will research published methods for the assays used and will be provided with appropriate reading lists for this task.  In practical classes students will be guided in design and prosecution of laboratory work.  This will involve problem-solving, interpretation of their results as well as technical skills.


  • Laboratory performance 50%
  • Laboratory report 50%