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MChem Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHEM30432
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Chemistry
Available as a free choice unit? No


 This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 21/22 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact. Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.


This unit covers three areas: (i) principles of medicinal chemistry and examples of drug discovery; (ii) aspects of nucleic acid structure, biological function / uses and chemical synthesis; and (iii) enzyme structure and behaviour, with introduction to enzyme mechanism examples, and important secondary metabolite biosynthesis chemistry (terpenes, steroids and alkaloids).



Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Structure and reactivity of organic molecules CHEM20412 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Core Chemistry 1 CHEM30411 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Organic Synthesis CHEM20411 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


This unit aims to;

  • Provide an understanding of nucleic acid structure and the chemistry involved in the biosynthesis, reactivity and chemical synthesis and applications of nucleic acids.
  • Provide an overview of the aims and methodologies of medicinal chemistry and the processes of drug discovery, development and optimization. Illustrated with some case histories of the discovery and development of novel therapeutics.
  • Provide an understanding of the organic chemistry that underlies biochemical processes, including enzyme catalysis and molecular recognition, an introduction to biosynthesis of secondary metabolites in particular terpenoids, steroidal systems and alkaloids and some examples of biomedical relevance.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Draw and explain the structure and roles of nucleic and acids.
  • Outline the processes involved in chemical synthesis of DNA.
  • Discuss and explain the applications of DNA oligonucleotides.
  • Define LogP, LogD, understand trends in potency, metabolism, solubility etc on drug development
  • Describe key features involved in protein-ligand interactions, being able to identify side chain groups and their roles.
  • Describe enzyme inhibition types, sketch equilibria, dose-response curves and outline tactics to increase potency.
  • Understand and explain the main aspects of pharmacokinetics and their impact on drug design, toxicity and the selection of drug candidates.
  • Understand examples of anticancer therapies.
  • Describe the basic features of enzyme catalysis from a structural, functional and kinetic perspective.
  • Be able to explain the key steps in several classical biosynthetic processes involving proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Show and explain the steps involved in synthesis of cyclic monoterpenes terpenes from acetyl CoA through and be able to explain steps involved in selected higher terpene biosyntheses.
  • Identify key steps and mechanisms, including stereoelectronic effects, in the biosynthesis of steroids
  • Outline the steps involved in the synthesis of case examples of alkaloids, eg morphine and tropanes, and explain the role of PLP in amino acid biosynthesis.

Apply any of this knowledge to the process of drug discovery and development.

Teaching and learning methods

Content is largely delivered through lectures. The material presented is fully supported by content on Blackboard. Tutorial problems are made available through Blackboard.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will be expected to use material covered in lectures or tutorials to independently search different text sources to support their understanding and thus encourage and reinforce investigative skills. This will include direction to original literature sources as well as other web resources. Each section includes a dedicated workshop/exam review session and supporting worksheets are provided to help students develop problem-solving and analytical skills across a range of different sub-topics.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Students have access to example problems/exam type questions on Blackboard and have the opportunity to review these with the Organic tutors or contact lecturing staff for informal review and feedback during the course.

Office hours will be advertised via Blackboard and will run during the relevant lecturing period, in person or remotely as appropriate, and/or with prorate alternative communication options indicated.

Students are advised to email staff to arrange meetings where possible during or outside of office hours. Staff will provide email; support and feedback as needed. One member of staff is based in MIB (no walk-in) and one staff member is based externally.


Recommended reading

  • TDH Bugg, Introduction to Enzyme and Coenzyme Chemistry, Wiley, 3rd ed. 2012.
  • J Mann, Chemical Aspects of Biosynthesis, OUP, 1994.
  • GL Patrick, An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry, 6th Ed. OUP, 2017
  • G.Michael Blackburn, M.J. Gait, David Loakes, and D.M. Williams, Nucleic Acids in Chemistry and Biology, RSC, 3rd Ed, 2006.
  • Free online nucleic acids book:
  • The Handbook of Medicinal Chemistry: Principles and Practice. A David and SE Ward (Eds), RSC, 2015.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 18
Practical classes & workshops 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 74

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
John Gardiner Unit coordinator
Cliff Jones Unit coordinator

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