Biological Chemistry A - BIOS3211

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Combined Autumn and Spring Terms 4 15 (7.5) Wei-Feng Xue checkmark-circle


Students without A2 Chemistry (equivalent) on entry take Phases 1+2.
N.B. Students with A2 Chemistry or equivalent below grade C will follow Phases 1+2.

Phase 1: Autumn Term (5 lectures, 6 x 2 hr Workshops)
Basic chemical concepts for biology will be taught and applied through examples in a workshop atmosphere. The five workshop topics covered are: (i) Atoms and states of matter (ii) valence and bonding (iii) basic organic chemistry for biologists (iv) molecular shapes and isomerism in biology and (iv) chemical reactivity and chemical equations.
Assessment feedback of basic chemistry (1 session/lecture)

Phase 2: Autumn Term (9 lectures, 2 x 2 hr Workshop, 3 extra support lectures)
Chemical and biochemical thermodynamics. Topics covered are: (i) energetic and work, (ii) enthalpy, entropy and the laws of thermodynamics (iii) Gibbs free energy, equilibrium and spontaneous reactions, (iv) Chemical and biochemical equilibrium (including activity versus concentration and Le Chatelier's principle). The two hour workshop is designed to be delivered as small group sessions to cover the applications and practice of thermodynamics concepts.
Chemistry applied to biological concepts: bonding, valence, hybridisation as well as biological applied thermodynamic process (biomolecular association/dissociation).
Assessment feedback (1 session/lecture)


Contact hours

Phase 1+2
Total contact hours: 35
Private study hours: 115
Total study hours: 150


BI321 is a module for Biology students without A2 Chemistry at grades A-C (or equivalent). If you have A2 Chemistry you are required to attend BI3210.
N.B. Students with A2 Chemistry or equivalent below grade C are required to attend BI321.

Method of assessment

Assignment (20%): Phase 2 test with 20 MCQ and 1 Problem Question 20%
Assignment (30%): Phase 2 Coursework - Problem question
Examination (50%): 30 MCQ and 1 Problem Question from choice of 3

Assignment (20%): Phase 1 MCQ Assessment
Assignment (20%): Phase 2 test with 20 MCQ and 1 Problem Question 20%
Coursework (30%): Phase 1 Coursework Problem question
Coursework (30%): Phase 2 Coursework Problem question

Indicative reading

Crowe and Bradshaw. Chemistry for the Biosciences (3rd Ed.). The Essential Concepts. (OUP)

Burrows, Holman, Parsons, Pilling and Price. Chemistry3: Introducing Organic, Inorganic and Physical Chemistry (3rd Ed.). (OUP)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successful completion of this module students will have a knowledge and understanding of:

Fundamental concepts of atoms, molecules, states of matter, basic valences, bonding and molecular interactions, basic organic compounds, shapes and basic isomerism and reactivity and chemical and the relevance of these concepts toward biomedical science.

The molecular basis of the thermodynamics of chemical and biochemical reactions, an understanding of equilibria and an appreciation of detailed molecular bonding and equilibria applied to biological systems.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to have:

Understanding and knowledge of problem solving, especially numerical and chemical methods.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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