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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CHEM3010 Foundation of Chemical Biology

10 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr W B Turnbull

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications

BSc degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry or equivalent

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Fundamental aspects of organic and biological chemistry that underpin understanding of chemical biology and drug design.


To provide students from diverse backgrounds with an appropriate background knowledge of organic chemistry and biochemistry for the MSc course in Chemical Biology and Drug Design.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should:

1. be able to describe the shapes of biological polymers and explain the basic principles behind their formation and stability.
2. have an understanding of the relationship between chemical structure and reactivity
3. be able to apply their knowledge of chemistry and biochemistry to solve deductive problems in chemical biology


Fundamental organic chemistry

Stereochemistry, conformations, anomeric effect
Chemistry of the carbonyl group (additionelimination, aldol, conjugate addition); pKa
Reactivity of carboxylic acid derivatives, amides, esters (hydrolysis, relative reactivity towards nucleophiles), Claisen condensations.
Nucleophilic substitution at saturated carbon.
Structure and reactivity of biologically important heterocycles.

Molecular interactions and Fundamental Biology

Identifying hydrogen bond donors and acceptors. Hydrophobic interactions. Lipid membranes. Illustrative examples using small molecule ligands and the structure of DNA.
The amino acids and their side chains. pKa's of ionisable side chains (and what impact this has on their structures at pH 7). Primary sequence of proteins. The central dogma of molecular biology. Major differences between eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Where replication, transciption and translation take place in each case. The genetic code. Ribosomal protein synthesis. Secondary, tertiary and quaternary protein structure. Alpha helices and beta sheets. Stability of an alpha helix.
Basic energetics: Relationship between free energy and K. How stable is a folded protein relative to unfolded state.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Independent online learning hours6.00
Private study hours80.00
Total Contact hours14.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Students will be expected watch a series of ca. 30 minute on line videos on fundamental concepts in organic and biological chemistry prior to each lecture and to spend considerable time consolidating the knowledge gained in both the on line videos and lectures.

They will be provided with practice problems that form the basis of the tutorials.

Preparation for the open book class test.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative feedback through interactive problem solving during lecture sessions and the deductive problem coursework sheets.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Tutorial PerformanceDeductive problems10.00
Essay or Dissertation1 x 1000 word essay40.00
In-course MCQOnline MCQ5.00
Computer ExerciseProtein Structure Workshop5.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Open Book exam2 hr 00 mins40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)40.00

The open book class test will happen in week 5 of semester 1 to allow feedback to be given to students on their performance as early as practical in semester 1. As open book class test falls outside the normal exam schedule, we will give a chance to resit the exam after the January exam period. **the only change here is that the test will be in week 5**

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 05/11/2019 08:50:07


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