Molecular Cell Biology and Nanoscience

Module code: NS3017

Module co-ordinator: Dr Sarah Gretton

Nanotechnology is of interest of both physicists and chemists alike; however, as an MIT representative once said, ''biology is the nanotechnology that works''. The subcellular structures that make up the cells within any organism are all constructed from macromolecular building blocks, demonstrating that complex systems and processes on the nanoscale are possible.

Nanoscience is not just about large things made smaller: behaviour in the nano-world depends on the fundamental quantum properties of matter. To understand nanoscience we therefore first have to understand quantum mechanics. 

In order to understand how bionanotechnology can be utilised the first section of this module focuses on key principles of molecular cell biology and their analysis using biomarkers.

Topics covered

  • Cell structure and contents
  • Visualising the cell
  • Electron microscopy
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Molecular and cellular research techniques
  • Molecular causes of cancer
  • Quantum mechanics in the context of nanoparticles
  • Principles of quantum mechanics
  • Quantum systems
  • Magnetism
  • Nanoparticles
  • Medical applications of nanoparticles


  • 5 one-hour workshops + 4 two-hour workshops
  • 10 lectures (1-2 hour)
  • 4 two-hour tutorials


  • Exam (35%)
  • Continual Assessment (65%) - including 4 sets of core learning exercises and 2 group reports