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Carry out an experiment to investigate the role of temperature on the rate of activity of catalase and to write up a laboratory report


Assessment Title:

Temperature and the rate of action of catalase.

Assessment weighting:  20%

Learning outcomes (from Biology Module Guide):

Assessment Task:

Demonstrate a fundamental grasp of a range of techniques used in modern biology; perform simple experiments, accurately record and analyse practical data.

Carry out an experiment to investigate the role of temperature on the rate of activity of catalase and to write up a laboratory report.

Demonstrate a fundamental understanding of the basics of biochemistry.

The laboratory report should describe the molecular basis of how temperature affects enzyme and substrate molecules.

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Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing

Biology – Summative Laboratory Assessment 

Temperature and rate of action of catalase

General background

Enzymes are required for many processes in biological systems and enzyme action is very sensitive to temperature. This practical uses the enzyme catalase, which converts hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water. This process is very rapid and produces lots of oxygen bubbles, or ‘froth’. The quantity of froth produced is a measure of the rate of enzyme action. There are various sources of catalase, however this practical uses yeast cells as a source of catalase.

Health and safety

A COSHH Risk Assessment form will be available.


To investigate the effect of temperature on the rate of action of catalase.

Materials and Methods

  1. Using an automated pipette place 1 cm3 of yeast suspension into a test tube.
  2. Using a measuring cylinder place 2 cm3 of hydrogen peroxide solution into another test tube. The hydrogen peroxide solution contains a very small quantity of detergent.
  3. You will find water baths in the laboratory at a range of temperatures. Place both test tubes in a water bath and allow the temperature to equilibrate for 5 minutes.
  4. At time zero, pour the hydrogen peroxide into the test tube containing the yeast suspension (do not try and pour the yeast into the hydrogen peroxide as the yeast is ‘sticky’ and some of it will not come out of the test tube).
  5. Immediately place the test tube back into the water bath.
  6. Using a ruler, measure the froth height after 30 seconds.
  7. Repeat the experiment at the full range of temperatures.

Lab coats etc

  • Please make sure that you bring a lab coat, safety spectacles and an ID card. You will not be admitted to the laboratory without your lab coat and safety spectacles – which means that you will not be able to do the assessment, you will lose 20% of the module marks and your pharmacy career may well be finished!
  • Laboratory rules do not allow mobile telephones.
  • Please bring a ruler.

Writing up requirements

The laboratory report should be structured as follows. Use numbered sub-headings for sections 1-6:

  1. Introduction                                                                                                   (3 marks)
  2. Hypothesis                                                                                                    (2 marks)
  3. Materials and methods                                                                               (4 marks)
  4. Results – table                                                                                             (6 marks)
  5. Results - graph                                                                                             (9 marks)
  6. Discussion – consisting of five sections: describe your results;

explain your results; biological applications; errors; improvements. (13 marks)

  1. Reference list (2 marks) and citations in text (1 mark). You should

use Harvard or Vancouver referencing.                                                  (3 marks)

Total: 40 marks.

Some pieces of information (e.g. aspects of enzyme chemistry) could appear in either the introduction or discussion and the work will be marked flexibly to take this into consideration.


  • Word limit: 2 pages, Arial 12 pt font, 1.5 line spacing (page count excludes the table, graph and reference list). Text that goes beyond the page limit will not be marked.
  • You should find condensing your essay into two pages highly stressful! Writing in a clear and concise way is a useful scientific and transferrable skill.
  • The writing style should be in the third person, past tense.
  • Please edit the front sheet of this handout into your work.

Tables and graphs

  • The table should be produced electronically.
  • The graph can be produced electronically or drawn by hand. If drawing the graph by hand, photograph with your telephone and insert the JPEG file into your Word file.
  • Graphs should be produced to a very high standard. Do check that the JPEG is clear and easy to read. Be wary of faint pencil lines or poor writing that may not be visible to me when I am marking. If I cannot read it, I cannot give marks!

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