Biological Chemistry A - BIOS3210

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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 with A2 Chemistry (equivalent) on entry take Phases 2+3.

Biology students with A2 Chemistry (or equivalent) will obtain additional chemical concepts (Phase 3) as their chemistry qualification at A2 will already furnish them with concepts from Phase 1. All students will participate in the core section: Phase 2.

Phases 2+3 students will use the Phase 1 coursework test as a formative assessment to recognise their required chemical knowledgebase as obtained at A2 level. This provides an opportunity to identify students requiring additional support.
This module links to Biological Chemistry B with identically designed phases (1, 2 and 3) to maximise teaching efficiency across all programs in the School of Biosciences.

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)

Phase 3: Spring Term (17 lectures, 2 x 2 hr workshop)
Fundamental organic chemistry with biological examples. Topics covered: (i) Introduction and basic functional chemistry, (ii) Isomerism and stereochemistry, (iii) Reaction mechanisms, (iv) Alkanes/alkyl halides/alkenes/alkynes, (v) Aromatic compounds, (vi) Heterocyclic compounds, (vii) Amines and alcohols (viii) Carbonyl compounds and carboxylic acids and (ix) Biological inorganic chemistry. The two hour workshop is designed to be delivered as small group sessions to cover the applications of reaction mechanisms and reaction schemes.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 38
Private study hours: 112
Total study hours: 150


BI3210 is a module for Biology students with A2 Chemistry at grades A-C (or equivalent). If you do not have A2 Chemistry you are required to attend BI321.
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
Assignment (30%): Phase 2 Coursework Problem question
Examination (50%): 30 MCQ and 1 Problem Question from choice of 3

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 understanding and knowledge 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.

Fundamental concepts of organic chemistry related to biological systems including carbon functional group chemistry (alkanes, alkyl halides, alkenes, alkynes, aromatics, heterocyclics and carbonyl compounds), bioorganic chemistry including the role of chemistry to understand biochemical processes

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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