Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Chemistry


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Core Chemistry 2 (CHEM2012) AND [Biological Chemistry (CHEM2051) OR Biochemistry (BIOL2491)]


  • Inorganic Concepts and Applications (CHEM3097) OR Advanced Organic Chemistry (CHEM3117) OR Molecules and their Interactions (CHEM3137)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • This module may not be taken in the same year of study as Computational Chemistry (CHEM2061) or Computational Chemical Physics (CHEM3151)


  • To emphasise and expand undergraduates' application of chemical knowledge and analytical methods to biological systems.
  • This will be achieved by both lecture based teaching and through project work that introduces computer-based searching of recent biochemical literature, particularly spectroscopic information.


  • Nucleosides, nucleotides and nucleic acids: structures, synthesis. Biological roles and applications in chemical biology.
  • Kinetic and mechanistic overview of the reactivity of enzymes.
  • Design and utility of molecular probes in various biological systems.
  • Survey of the key structural elements in proteins and the relationships to their constitution. The function of selected proteins and protein folding.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understand the roles of nucleosides, nucleotides and nucleic acids in biological systems, how these materials can be synthesised chemically and biologically, and how they can be applied to solving biological problems.
  • Understand the function of enzymes in biochemical pathways, apply models which describe the kinetics of enzyme catalysed reactions, and understand how small molecules may be used to modulate enzyme activity.
  • Understand the principles underlying the design of molecular probes for biological systems, and how probes can be applied to further biological understanding
  • Advanced understanding of the structure and reactivity of amino-acids, peptides and proteins.
  • Investigate the structure-function relationship of proteins.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Use of a range of databases such as UNIPROT and the Protein Data Bank to analyse protein structures.
  • Use of on-line bioinformatic tools to investigate structure-function relationships of proteins.
Key Skills:
  • Group working, encouraged and developed through workshop teaching and the coursework.
  • Written communication advanced through the use of essay type questions in lecture-support worksheets and the coursework.
  • Problem-solving developed through workshops.
  • Information retrieval through the coursework.
  • IT skills, improved through database searching, introduced in the coursework.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures are used to convey concepts and are examined by written papers. This is the best method to assess the knowledge of the students.
  • Workshops are larger groups of students where problems are considered and common difficulties shared. This ensures that students have understood the work and can apply it to real life situations. These are formatively assessed.
  • Following a demonstration lecture, and a computer workshop in the Epiphany Term, undergraduates work on gaining information about a particular protein by researching structural data obtained by X-ray diffraction in the literature. This is followed by a project group discussion with undergraduates pooling results and then writing up their findings individually. The project is summatively assessed.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 or 2 per week 1 Hour 22
Computer workshop 1 1 in Term 2 2 Hours 2
Discussion seminar 1 1 in Term 2 2 Hours 2
Workshops 3 1 or 2 per Term 2 Hours 6
Preparation and Reading 168
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination Two hours 100%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
project 100%

Formative Assessment:

Set work in preparation for workshops

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University