Biology of Cells

This is taken by most of the Bio Natscis as it provides a fundamental basis for all Biology. However, there are a lot of Physical Natscis who also go for Cells, giving a bit of variety.

Over the year you’ll cover macromolecules and cell structure, leading on to a term of genetics and finishing with signalling and embryonic development. This sets you up for the IB courses next year, such as Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology and Neurobiology.

There is one 5 hour practical each week (don’t panic – you tend to finish early, plus you get an hour for lunch, so it’s more like 3 hours) and they aren’t assessed, although writing up small reports at the end of each one is recommended as these really help when it comes to revising for the practical exam.

The practicals try to reinforce material already covered in the lectures, especially the genetics where you get to play with fruit flies and do genetic crosses as well as learning useful biotechnology techniques.

Cells is just one of those subjects that you have to store away large amounts of information for the exam, and whilst there are interesting and challenging topics, it should mainly be seen as a framework for courses in Part 1B. There is a large essay based part of the exam, as well as shorter questions and the practical paper.

Biology of Cells is a subject where textbooks become your bible for the year. Although our college library has several copies of the recommended texts, they are used throughout the years of the Natsci Tripos, so it’s well worth investing in your own copies, especially if you’re considering taking any of the Biological subjects in IB. A couple of good ones are Stryer’s Biochemistry and Alberts’ Cells (big red book). As with most books suggested there will be several cut price copies in our book sale in the first term, so don’t go rushing to the shops just yet.

Very useful for all biological Part 1B subjects, particularly Cell and Developmental Biology, Neurobiology and Biochemistry.

As Cells is taught by several departments together, the course has no specific website, however here is the link to the School of Biological Sciences from which different biological departments can be accessed:

The Natural Sciences Society of St John's College