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Fundamentals of Chemistry for Biochemists 1 - CHE00031C

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  • Department: Chemistry
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Seishi Shimizu
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This foundation chemistry course builds on the chemistry learned at A level or an equivalent grade. The course begins with a lecture course on Structure, Bonding & Equilibria including principles of acid and base chemistry. Organic molecules and their reactions are introduced with a focus on reaction mechanism, and important classes of organic molecules, aromatics and carbonyls, are studied in detail. The module includes an introductory thermodynamics for biochemistry and biomolecules.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module aims, together with the Fundamentals of Chemistry for Biochemists II, to provide Biochemistry students with a foundation course in Chemistry. The materials presented, which cover Structure, Bonding & Equilibria, Biochemical Thermodynamics, Organic Structures and Mechanisms, Aromatic Chemistry and Organic Carbonyls, are essential for developing an understanding of the structure and interactions of biological macromolecules and ligands, and provide the Biochemistry student with a foundation course in Chemistry. The course builds on A level Chemistry or its equivalent and forms a prerequisite for subsequent Chemistry modules specifically designed for the Biochemists.

Module learning outcomes

Students will be expected to be able to describe, understand and interpret

  • the basic properties of acids, bases and chemical equilibria
  • applications of thermodynamics to biochemistry
  • the 3D structures of organic molecules and typical reaction pathways and mechanism types
  • distinctive properties and reactivity of aromatic organic molecules and carbonyls
  • basic structure and bonding theories to predict and understand molecular shape in organic and inorganic molecules
  • the classification of stereochemistry in organic molecules

Module content

Biochemical Thermodynamics


4h online materials+ 2 in-person problem-solving lectures + 2 h computer workshop

+ 2h college workshop

Chemical Equilibria, Enthalpy, Entropy, Gibbs free energy, van't Hoff plot, Biochemical Models, Calorimetry and Data Analysis

Structure & Bonding and Equilibria


10 lectures

+ 1h workshop

Bronsted acids and bases. pH, pKa, pKb, understanding titrations and amino acid structure.

Chemistry of the elements of the first row in the periodic table (Li-F) through study of their compounds with hydrogen.

Various primary and secondary bonding types, resulting in a wide range of molecular properties from reactive hydride salts through to highly inert gases and acidic and basic liquids.

Electron pair approach to covalent bonding.

Application to shape, stereoisomerism, bond energies and electronic effects in molecules.

Organic Structures & Mechanisms


10 lectures

+ 1h tutorial

+ 1 workshop

Aromatic Chemistry and Organic Carbonyls AFP

8 lectures

1 tutorial


Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Closed exam : FCB1 exam
2 hours 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Closed exam : FCB1 exam
2 hours 100

Module feedback

  • Tutorials/workshops: Written feedback will be given for tutorial work within a week. Written and/or oral feedback for workshops will be given either during the sessions or within a week.

  • Exams: Closed exam results with per-question breakdown are returned to the students via supervisors within 5 weeks. Outline answers are made available via the Chemistry web pages when the students receive their marks, so that they can assess their own detailed progress/achievement. The examiners’ reports for each question are made available to the students via the Chemistry web pages.

Indicative reading

Burrows, Holman, Parsons, Pilling and Price: Chemistry3 (Oxford University Press)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.