Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
BS13910 (Introduction to Chemistry)
Normally A level Chemistry or its equivalent
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 13 x 1hour lectures
Practical 5 x 3 hour practical sessions


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   theory examination  70%
Semester Assessment Submission of practical report (max. 1200 words).  30%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   Supplementary Exam: One 2-hour theory examination; re-submission of failed or missing course work or alternative (as determined by the exam board). 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. identify geometric and stereo isomers of organic compounds and to apply the rules to assign the correct nomenclature to simple examples of these types of isomers.
2. identify the major acidic and basic groups in biological systems and recognise the relevance of their pK values and contribution to buffering.
3. review the basic background physical chemistry to bioenergetics and electron transport processes in nature.
4. describe basic analytical techniques and analyse results from these for the identification of simple compounds.


This module aims to give the students sufficient chemical knowledge to understand the principles that underlie biological processes at the molecular level. It will build on the students' basic knowledge of chemistry in those areas that are particularly pertinent to biology and provide them with a background for a better understanding of further studies in biochemistry.


A description of bonding in organic molecules will introduce a study of structural and geometric isomerism. The conformations of simple carbon compounds and their systematic nomenclature will be considered and the importance of this form of isomerism in natural compound will be emphasised.
A survey of stereoisomerism and optical activity will include both the D and L system and the R and S nomenclature. Fischer projection formulae, separation of enantiomers and the concept of symmetry will be described. Again the relevance to natural compounds will be emphasised.
A study of biologically important functional groups will lead to a review of the concept of pH, acids, bases and buffers drawing particularly on the examples of amino acids. Other aspects of physical chemistry will include energetics, binding of ligands and electrochemistry, again the relevance to biological processes emphasised and with examples drawn from biology. The topics of chemical equilibria and reaction kinetics will be linked with a simple consideration of enzymes and their role in biological reactions.
The major analytical methods used in biochemistry including various forms of spectroscopy and the use of isotopes will be described.
Although the major emphasis will be on organic chemistry aspects of bio-inorganic chemistry may be discussed.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Practical work will involve calculations using acquired data.
Communication The production of balanced practical reports. Listening skills for the lectures and subsequent discussion in practical classes. Effective written communication in examinations.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to research materials, manage time and meet deadlines.
Information Technology Accessing the web for information sources and using databases to find primary literature.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will gain confidence in their ability to evaluate biological problems and objectively assess the quality of proposed solutions.
Problem solving Practical classes will allow students to gain experience in designing, executing, interpreting data and writing-up assessed biochemical and chemical experiments.
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the lecture material using both directed and independent study. Information from a variety of sources will be the object 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 Students will gain knowledge of geometric and stereo isomers of organic compounds. Students will be able to identify the major acidic and basic groups in biological systems and have an understanding of the relevance of their pK values and contribution to buffering. Students will gain a basic understanding of the background physical chemistry to bioenergetics and electron transport processes in nature. They will also gain basic understanding of analytical techniques and to be able to interpret results from these for the identification of simple compounds.
Team work Students will work in pairs/small groups during practical sessions. They will need to discuss their experimental design and work effectively as a small team in practical classes.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Campbell, N. and Reece, J. (2005) Biology 7th Benjamin Cummings Publishers Primo search
Reference Text
Berg, J.M., Tymoczko, J.L. & Stryer, L. (2007) Biochemistry 6th W.H. Freeman and Co. Primo search Price, N.C., Dwek, R.A., Ratcliffe, R.G. & Wormald, M.R. (2001) Principles and problems in physical chemistry for biochemists Oxford University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4