The Chemical Basis of Biology and Human Health

University of Otago

Course Description

  • Course Name

    The Chemical Basis of Biology and Human Health

  • Host University

    University of Otago

  • Location

    Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Area of Study

    Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Human Biology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Teaching Arrangements
    - The course comprises 43 lectures and six 3-hour laboratories
    - Attendance of laboratories is compulsory
    - A terms test will be held on a Saturday morning around the middle of the semester

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    An introduction to the concepts of chemistry underlying important processes in biology and human health, including chemical bonding, energetics, kinetics, equilibria and solubility, properties of water and solutions, acids, bases, complexation and electron transfer, mechanisms of organic reactions and properties of amino acids and carbohydrates.

    CHEM 191 aims to instil a fundamental knowledge of chemical structure and reactivity, with particular focus on concepts which provide an understanding of why chemical reactions proceed and how this understanding may be applied to the chemical processes in biological systems.

    CHEM 191 is a required part of the Health Sciences First Year programme at Otago and is a prerequisite paper for a number of other science courses.

    CHEM 191 Semester 1: It provides an introduction to concepts influencing chemical reactions in biological systems including

    • Concepts of Chemical Bonding
    • Thermodynamics/energetics of biological systems
    • Properties of water
    • Reaction rates and chemical equilibria
    • Metals in biology - electron transfer, complexation
    • Organic/carbon-based compounds - stereochemistry, reaction mechanisms, functional groups, polymers
    • Biological molecules - carbohydrates, amino acids, nucleic acids, nucleic acids, proteins/enzymes

    Course Structure
    Provides an introduction to concepts influencing chemical reactions including:
    - Concepts of chemical bonding
    - Thermodynamics and Equilibria
    - Acid-Base and Electron Transfer Reactions - roles of metal ions in biology
    - Reaction rates
    - Organic/carbon-based compounds - stereochemistry, reaction mechanisms, functional groups, polymers
    - Biological molecules - saccharides, amino acids, nucleic acids, proteins/enzymes

    Learning Outcomes
    - Apply an understanding of chemical structures and processes to biological systems
    - Write chemical equations to describe reactions
    - Use knowledge of chemical bonding and reaction mechanisms to predict and rationalise the outcome of chemical reactions
    - Use mathematical procedures to analyse data and solve chemistry problems
    - Safely use appropriate apparatus to carry out chemistry reactions in the laboratory

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.