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Cell Membranes and Membrane Transport (CMMT)


Admission requirements

Elective course for MSc Life Science and Technology and MSc Chemistry students.

A BSc degree in Molecular Science and Technology, Life Science and Technology, Chemistry or a related discipline with a good understanding of Biochemistry and some affinity with microbiology or biotechnology.


Lipid membranes are the boundary of every biological cell and compartmentalise the chemistry of life. Furthermore, liposomal formulations have become key in drug delivery and form a basic building block for microreactors and bionanotechnology. Although only several nanometers thick, lipid membranes are specific barriers, impermeable to many chemicals, while membrane proteins selectively transport signals, nutrients, chemicals, toxins and biomacromolecules. This course will discuss the properties of lipid membranes and membrane transporters at the molecular level. Besides a general introduction into the biochemistry of cell membranes and membrane proteins, the biophysical characteristics of lipids and detergents will be used to illustrate their behaviour and barrier properties.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • discuss different lipids in biology and their biophysical properties.

  • calculate the thermodynamic energy of transmembrane gradients (Nernst equation)

  • explain the energy required (or released) to transport a compound across the membrane.

  • understand how experimental techniques are used to study properties of membranes.

  • discuss the basic transport mechanism of different types of membrane transporters.

  • use and apply this knowledge to analyse challenges in biotechnology.

  • work in teams to formulate solutions to these challenges and present these to a multidisciplinary research audience.


Schedule information can be found on the website of the programmes

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Lectures (7), tutorials (2), student presentation (1) and independent reading.

Assessment method

A take home essay (50%) and a group project, orally presented (50%)

To pass the module both exams have to be passed (a mark of more than 5.5 for each component).

Reading list

  • Lukas K. Buehler, Cell Membranes, Garstang, Chapter 4 to 7.

  • Boal, David H..; Mechanics of the Cell, Chapter 7. Free to download for students via EBSCO Publishing : eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost)


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Prof. Dr. L.J.C. Jeuken


According to OER article 4.8, students are entitled to view their marked examination for a period of 30 days following the publication of the results of a written examination. Students should contact the lecturer to make an appointment for such an inspection session.