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BSc Plant Science

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Chemistry for Bioscientists 1

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHEM10021
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 22/23 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.

CHEM10021 provides a description of: atomic structure and molecular structure using various models for chemical bonding; the structure and properties of aromatic and heteroaromatic molecules; the phenomena of electron delocalisation (resonance); to explain aspects of conformation, isomerism and chirality within molecules; to provide an introduction to the thermodynamics of solutions; to cover key concepts in chemical reaction kinetics and redox processes.


Students taking this unit should have A-Level Chemistry, or an A-grade in Chemistry at AS level as a minimum.


The unit aims to outline the basic principles of chemistry that will be relevant to an understanding of key biological molecules and biochemical processes. The unit continues in semester 2 (see CHEM10022).


Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students should be able to: 

Describe and explain:
•    the nature of matter and the formation of chemical bonds
•    how the nature of molecular and hybrid orbitals in molecules dictates the shape and chemical properties of the molecules
•    the significance of the various types of isomerism possible within molecular structures

•    the different models for chemical bonding
•    aromaticity and the properties of aromatic and heteroaromatic compounds
•    chemical kinetic concepts such as reaction rates, rate laws, rate constants and activation energies.

•    the significance of electron delocalisation (resonance) on the chemical properties of simple molecules
•    and apply the laws of thermodynamics
•    the significance of oxidation and reduction processes

•    chemical kinetic concepts in calculations to determine reaction rates, rate laws, rate constants and activation energies.
•    knowledge of atomic and molecular structure gained to deduce the likely electronic properties of a molecule
•    knowledge of atomic and molecular structure gained to deduce the likely three-dimensional structure of a molecule
•    chemical mechanistic ‘curly’ arrows to indicate the delocalisation of electrons within molecules and generate different resonance forms
•    the appropriate chemical and biochemical terminology to communicate accurately and concisely chemical information
•    the appropriate chemical structure drawings to communicate accurately and concisely chemical information


Understanding the nature of matter 
Bonding and Molecular Structure
•    Understanding the nature of matter (development of atomic theory)
•    Orbitals, electronic structure, periodicity
•    Chemical bonding I: Lewis structures
•    Molecular geometry (VSEPR), bond polarity
•    Chemical bonding II: orbital hybridisation (carbon, nitrogen and oxygen)
•    Chemical bonding III: molecular orbitals
•    Electron delocalization (resonance) with biologically relevant examples
•    Understanding the phenomena of aromaticity in organic molecules
Conformation, Isomerism and Chirality
•    Representing organic molecules as chemical structures
•    Rotation about single bonds
•    Conformations of simple molecules
•    Stereoisomerism and chirality
Energetics, rates and redox processes
•    Physical states of matter
•    First law of thermodynamics: work, heat, internal energy, enthalpy and Hess’s law
•    Second law of thermodynamics: entropy 
•    Gibbs energy, chemical equilibrium, equilibrium constant, reaction quotient
•    Dependence of equilibrium constant on temperature
•    Experimental chemical kinetics
•    Rates of reaction: instantaneous rate, rate law, rate constant, reaction order
•    Integrated rate laws: first order reactions, second order reactions, half lives
•    Dependence of rate constant on temperature, Arrhenius equation, catalysis
•    Redox processes: oxidation, reduction, electrochemical series

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Communication skills: Communicating complex information using the appropriate chemical and biochemical terminology and chemical structure drawings.

Problem-solving skills: Applying chemical principles to deduce the likely chemical and physical properties of new molecules.


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Students can submit questions, receive feedback and discuss any of the course content during the weekly Q&A sessions with the lecturers.

Written feedback is also provided for online quizzes and practice exercises as the unit progresses.

Recommended reading

Recommended course books:

P. Y. Bruice, Organic Chemistry, 6th (or 7th) edition, Prentice-Hall, 2011 (2014 for 7th edn.).

P. W. Atkins, J. De Paula, Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 2011

Other recommended reading:

P. W. Atkins, J. De Paula, Elements of Physical Chemistry, 6th edition, Oxford University Press, 2012.

F. A. Carey, Organic Chemistry, 4th edition, McGraw-Hill, 2000.

M. J. Winter, Chemical Bonding (Oxford Chemistry Primer, no. 15), Oxford University Press, 1994.

W.G. Richards, P.R. Scott, Energy levels in atoms and molecules (Oxford Chemistry Primer, no. 26), Oxford University Press, 1994.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
eAssessment 12
Lectures 16
Work based learning 67
Independent study hours
Independent study 3

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Lu Shin Wong Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Suggested Study Budget:

Lecture-Listening & making notes-16h

Online quizzes-Solving/answering questions-12h

Problem sheets / exercises-Solving/answering questions-10h

Problem-based learning-Discussing questions from lectures, quizzes or exercises; receiving feedback-12h

Reading-From recommended reading list-20h

Revision-Re-read notes, re-watch lectures, practice past years’ exam papers-25h

Exam-Multiple choice exam-2h

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