Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Molecular Biochemistry
Academic Year
Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 11 x 1 Hour Lectures
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures
Practical 3 x 3 Hour Practicals


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Practical laboratory worksheet 1  (500 words)  10%
Semester Assessment Practical laboratory worksheet 2  (500 words)  10%
Semester Assessment Practical laboratory worksheet 3  (500 words)  10%
Semester Assessment Practical laboratory report  (3000 words)  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   40%
Supplementary Assessment Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module  60%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module  40%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of acid-base equilibria in biological systems, including pH calculations, buffers and acid/base titrations

2. Recognise isomerism including stereochemistry and optical activity including enantiomers, diastereoisomers, racemic mixture and meso compounds. Identify stereocenters and apply the Cahn-Ingold-Prelog system to designate stereochemistry (E/Z and R/S)

3. Demonstrate knowledge of mass spectroscopy (MS), ultraviolet-visible (UV-VIS) spectroscopy, infrared (IR) spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Determine the structure of organic molecules using spectroscopic techniques

4. Apply basic physical chemistry principles to biological systems related to chemical thermodynamics and kinetics

5. Be able to explain the fundamentals and core principles in organic chemistry including hybridization, geometry, structure and stability of organic molecules, functional group reactivity, synthesis and chemical reactions of selected biologically important molecules. Use knowledge in organic mechanisms to predict the outcome of reactions and design synthesis of organic molecules

Brief description

The module will describe organic chemistry and biological systems – biochemistry. The module will cover the following chemical topics, with examples of relevant biological phenomena; acid-base equilibria, stereochemistry, thermodynamics, kinetics, spectroscopy (IR, UV-VIS, MS and NMR) and advanced organic chemistry.


Semester 1: A study of biologically important functional groups will lead to a review of the concept of pH, acids, bases and buffers. Other aspects of physical chemistry will include energetics, binding of ligands and electrochemistry, the relevance to biological processes will be emphasized with examples. The topics of chemical equilibria and reaction kinetics will be discussed by considering the role of enzymes in biological reactions. Basic concepts in stereochemistry of natural organic compounds will be described and the different types of stereoisomers (geometric and optical isomerism). Optical activity will include both the D and L system and the R and S nomenclature. Review and concepts of spectroscopic methods and structure determination will be by IR, UV-VIS, MS and NMR Spectroscopy.

Semester 2: Fundamentals of organic chemistry will be discussed, focusing on important chemical concepts, with emphasis on biologically related chemistry to grasp the importance of organic chemistry in understanding reactions in living organisms. The structure, reactivity and synthesis of biologically important organic compounds (amino acids, nucleotides, sugars, lipids, aldehydes, ketones, aromatic compounds and heterocycles) will be broadly covered. The major reaction types discussed include nucleophilic substitution, electrophilic aromatic substitution, addition reactions, oxidation and reduction, eliminations and rearrangements.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Collection and scrutiny of data in terms of quality and quantity. Data interpretation.
Communication Students will develop effective written communication skills in examinations and coursework preparation. Working in small groups, discussion and application of lecture material in practical classes.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to research materials, manage time and meet deadlines. The directed study elements will provide opportunity for students to explore their individual learning styles and preferences and identify their needs and barriers to learning. Students will be able to track their understanding, review and monitor their progress and plan for improvement of personal performance.
Information Technology Accessing the web and online resources for information and using scientific databases to find primary literature.
Personal Development and Career planning Meeting targets and deadlines. Improving communication, written and problem solving skills.
Problem solving Students will gain an understanding of the fundamentals and core aspects of organic, physical and biological chemistry in lectures and will be applied to solve chemical problems. Practical skills will allow students to gain experience in designing, executing and interpreting data in biochemistry.
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the lecture material using directed and independent study. Information from a variety of sources will be the subject of scrutiny and comment. Practical classes will allow the development of key biological research skills at an early stage of their academic careers.
Subject Specific Skills Subject specific concepts relating to biochemistry will be developed. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of chemical principles as applied to molecular biology with examples. Students will gain key skills in extrapolating and interpreting complex data through lectures and practicals.
Team work Working collaboratively with students to solve chemical problems in lectures. Students will work in pairs/small groups in practical laboratory classes and work through the laboratory reports.


This module is at CQFW Level 4