CH1FC3-Molecular Studies for the Life Sciences

Module Provider: Chemistry
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: BSc Microbiology students taking CH1FC1 or who have A2 level Chemistry at Grade C or below. BSc Biomedical Science students without A2 level Chemistry or an equivalent qualification are REQUIRED to take this module. Food students are required to take this module.
Modules excluded: CH1OR1 Shape, Structure and Reactivity in Organic Chemistry or CH1OR2 Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry or CH1ORB Organic Chemistry for Biologists or CH1IN1 Fundamentals of Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table or CH1IN4 Inorganic Chemistry for Biological Sciences or CH1PH1 Physical Processes and Molecular Organisation or CH1PH2 Physical Processes for Biologists
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr David Nutt


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module develops the concepts introduced in CH1FC1 and provides a comprehensive background in chemistry for biological and food scientists. It has a specific emphasis on the chemistry required for the life sciences and the material is illustrated in case studies and workshops relevant to these students.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Students should have a good understanding of all the topics outlined below. In addition they should appreciate the relevance of the material to applications in the life sciences and especially food science. Students should be able to perform calculations and solve problems on any of the areas covered.

Additional outcomes:

Students will develop confidence in applying the language and terminology of chemistry in biological situations, will improve their numeracy skills and have opportunity for small group work in the problem solving sessions. 

Outline content:

1: Reacting molecules and energy. Energy changes in biological reactions. Energy heat and work. Calorimetry. Enthalpy and Entropy. Gibbs free energy. Free energy and metabolic pathways. (2 lectures, 1 workshop)

2: Reacting molecules and kinetics. Factors determining reaction rates. Activation energy (2 lectures, 1 workshop).

3 Equilibrium in chemical reactions. Equilibrium constant and relation to reaction free energy. Acids and bases. Determination and definition of pH and pKa. (2 lectures, 1 workshop)

4: Free energy and redox potentials. Obtaining energy for life. Electron transport reactions. Energy transfer and storage in metabolic pathways. (2 lectures, 1 workshop)

5: The periodic table, structure, hybridisation and orbital energy level diagrams (2 lectures, 1 workshop)

6: Nomenclature in organic chemistry (2 lectures, 1 workshop)

7: Shape, stereochemistry and chirality in molecules, including E/Z alkenes, Cahn-Ingold-Prelog rules for nomenclature and the problem of enantiomers. (2 lectures, 1 workshop)

8: Nucleophlilic substitution reactions and the difference between an SN1 and an SN2 mechanism leading onto hyperconjugation, resonance and the stereochemical implications of each substitution reaction pathway (2 lectures, 1 workshop)

9: Alkenes and elimination: Reduction of double and triple bonds, general reactions of alkenes, radical chemistry and E1 and E2 eliminations to generate alkenes. (2 lectures, 1 workshop)

10: Nucleophilic addition reaction of amino group to carbonyls; Carbonyl structure and bonding, reactivity, uses in fragrance chemistry, amides and esters. (2 lectures, 1 workshop). 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Each session consists of 2 lectures and one workshop on related topics. The lectures outline the theory and applications and the workshops involve practice on problem solving related to topics from chemistry and the life sciences. Each weekly session is assessed by multiple choice in-class tests. Attendance is compulsory at all sessions.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Practicals classes and workshops 10
Guided independent study: 70
Total hours by term 39
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Class test administered by School 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:
1.5 hours

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will carry out short multiple choice tests throughout the term based directly on lecture material. Continual assessment by in-class tests in weeks 4, 9 and 11 of term will be 40% of final mark. Final exam (not multiple choice) will be 60% of final mark.

Formative assessment methods:
Weekly workshops with feedback on Blackboard and one to one with demonstrators and staff.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Reassessment arrangements are in accordance with University policy. Reassessment of the written examination is held during the University-administered re-examination period in August. Failed coursework may be re-assessed by an alternative assignment before or during the August re-examination period.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 3 September 2019


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