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CH10243: Introduction to biological chemistry and general chemistry

[Page last updated: 21 April 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/3
Owning Department/School: Department of Chemistry
Credits: 12 [equivalent to 24 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 240
Level: Certificate (FHEQ level 4)
Academic Year
Assessment Summary: CW 35%, EX 65%
Assessment Detail:
  • S2 Exam (EX 65%)
  • S1 MCQ Coursework (CW 35%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Learning Outcomes: After studying the Unit, students should be able to:
* Account for the mechanisms by which simple biological reactions occur
* Name and draw diagrammatically a selected range of biological compounds and functional groups
* Describe the relationships between organic mechanisms and their related biological equivalents.
* Describe methods for the interconversion of selected biologically-important functional groups
* Solve straightforward problems involving the material covered.
* Understand how the principles of inorganic chemistry can be applied to biology.
* Understand how the principles of thermodynamics can be applied to biology.
* Describe the determination of chemical reaction rates.
* Analyse experimental kinetic data and classify reactions.

Aims: To provide an introduction to the subject of biological organic chemistry as a basis for understanding molecular processes affecting other areas of sciences, with reference to the themes of types of biological molecule, structure and bonding, reactivity and mechanism.
To consider the principles of inorganic chemistry, thermodynamics and kinetics in a biological context.

Skills: Numeracy (F,A), Problem (T,F,A)

Content: Structure and bonding: Lewis theory, formal charge; resonance; hybridization; delocalisation; conjugation; colour in biological molecules; conformation, configuration, chirality. Reactivity: chemistry of functional groups including alcohol's, carbonyl groups, and nitrogen important groups; imines, amines, enamines and heterocycles. Mechanism: energy profiles, acidity, basicity, nucleophilicity, electrophilicity, electrophilic addition, nucleophilic substitution, elimination; nucleophilic addition/elimination, kinetic vs. thermodynamic control.
A survey of important elements in biology (Na, K, Mg, Ca, Fe, Co, Cu, Zn, P and S) and their biological contexts (e.g. ion channels, ion pumps, vision, calmodulin, blood clotting, bone, kinases, Calvin cycle, ATP, DNA cleavage, proteases, zinc fingers, iron-sulphur clusters, haemoglobin, chlorophyll, vitamin B12). Hard and soft acid-base theory. Charge density. Coordination chemistry. Coordination numbers. Coordination spheres. Structure of metal complexes. Chelates. Importance of ionic radii. Donor atoms. Ligands. An introduction to thermodynamics and kinetics with a range of examples to illustrate how the basic principles can be applied to real equilibria and reactions in biology.

Programme availability:

CH10243 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Biology & Biochemistry
  • USBB-AFB02 : BSc(Hons) Biochemistry (Year 1)
  • USBB-AKB06 : BSc(Hons) Biochemistry with Professional Placement (Year 1)
  • USBB-AFM06 : MBiochem(Hons) Biochemistry (Year 1)
  • USBB-AKM06 : MBiochem(Hons) Biochemistry with Professional Placement (Year 1)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
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