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Unit information: Biological Chemistry 1A: Molecules of Life in 2021/22

Unit name Biological Chemistry 1A: Molecules of Life
Unit code BIOC10001
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. van Aelst
Open unit status Not open

A-level Chemistry or equivalent strongly advised.



School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


The key aim of this unit is to introduce and familiarise students with fundamental molecular concepts that underpin the study of life and biomedical sciences. These concepts will be presented within the reference frame of biological and biomedical applications. Key ideas include coverage of atoms found in organisms and their chemical and physical properties, how these atoms form bonds to build up biomolecules, chemical reactivity of biomolecules including mechanisms, and techniques for analysing the molecular and atomic properties of biomolecules. The content provides a foundation for students going on to take Biological Chemistry 1B (BIOC10002), in addition to all second year Biochemistry units and other Faculty of Life Sciences I-level units. The general aims of the unit are:

  • to provide students with an understanding and appreciation of the properties of atoms and molecules found within biological organisms
  • to understand how these molecular properties lead to and are exploited within life processes
  • to familiarise students with core technics for the practical analysis of biomolecules.

Intended learning outcomes

  1. An understanding of the basic components that form atomic matter, as found in biological systems;
  2. Knowledge of the electron arrangements in common elements found in biological systems and how these dictate the types of bonding interactions and molecular shapes they make;
  3. An understanding of basic chemical terms (including electrophile, nucleophile, acid and base) involved in simple biochemical reactions and their roles within a reaction;
  4. Familiarity with the chemical composition and properties of common biomolecules including peptides, nucleotides, carbohydrates, lipids, co-factors, and modifications such as phosphorylation, including an understanding of functional groups found in common biological molecules;
  5. An understanding of the concepts and practice of spectroscopic techniques as applied to the analysis of biomolecules;
  6. An understanding of basic biochemical analyses and the use of simple laboratory apparatus;
  7. An ability to communicate basic biomolecular science concepts both verbally and in writing, including an elementary understanding of research approaches in this field.

Teaching details

The teaching in the unit is normally delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities including lectures, workshops and practicals

Assessment Details

Coursework: 40%

Timed assessment: 60%


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. BIOC10001).