This module examines the chemistry of life processes.  Key chemical concepts that apply to biological systems are investigated, including the types of chemical bonds, the structure of water (an almost universal solvent in biochemical processes), the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, and the basic principles of acid-base chemistry. 

The structures of the four main types of macromolecules found (with minor variations) in all living organisms are described and the close relationship between their respective structures and functions are examined.  Various methods used to quantify and analyse proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, and nucleic acids are introduced and the theoretical bases of chromatographic and electrophoretic techniques, respectively, used in studying, developing, and manufacturing protein-based therapeutics are described. 

The structures and functions of vitamins and their biological functions are overviewed and the function of enzymes as biological catalysts is evaluated in terms of structure, function, and mechanism of action. 

The module also describes key metabolic concepts such as the generation of energy from the breakdown of glucose and other metabolites, along with an overview of the associated processes of tryacylglycerol, glycogen, and protein metabolism.  

Students develop their practical skills by performing a range of laboratory experiments that focus on the purification and qualitative/quantitative analysis of macromolecules, the application of chromatographic techniques to the separation of biomolecules, and the analysis of enzyme activity and inhibition. 

Sustainability is embedded in the biochemistry module.  The use of paper is minimised by using soft copies of notes and continuous assessments.  Signage is used in the laboratory to decrease energy consumption (i.e. turn off lights, close the fume hoods, turn off appliances).   The use of washable and reusable glassware is encouraged, and plastic pipette tips are washed are reused.  Water is conserved through vigilance in turning off taps and ensuring that there are no obvious water leaks.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the key chemical concepts that apply to biological systems (chemical bonds, the structure of water, the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, acid-base chemistry)  and their application.

  2. Identify the different types of macromolecular and their constituent subunits, describe their structures and structure-function relationships with reference to specific examples

  3. Describe the structure and mechanism of action of enzymes, explain the role of cofactors in enzyme reactions with reference to specific examples and explain the different types of enzyme inhibitors and how they may be identified.

  4. Examine key metabolic processes in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids, discuss the importance of metabolites in the generation of energy and the processes involved, and the role of metabolites as intermediates in biosynthetic reactions.

  5. Conduct all laboratory work in compliance with relevant health and safety legislation/guidelines, and understand the relevant biological, chemical and physical hazards associated with working in the laboratory, apply appropriate standards and procedures for risk containment and be aware of risk assessment.

  6. Use a range of analytical instruments, equipment, procedures, and techniques to prepare and carry out laboratory experiments related to biomolecules and process, analyse, interpret, and document the results of qualitative/quantitative assays using reference standards/standard curves/specifications. 

% Coursework 60%
% Final Exam 40%