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CHEM305 Biological Chemistry

Application of fundamental chemistry principles to an understanding of chemical reactions and molecular structure in biological systems.

CHEM305 Biological Chemistry focuses on how the concepts and techniques from various fields of chemistry may be applied to interpret chemical transformations in biological systems and to determine the structure of biomolecules. The paper will evaluate frontiers in biological chemistry by identifying the underlying fundamental concepts of molecular transformation and structure.

Paper title Biological Chemistry
Paper code CHEM305
Subject Chemistry
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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CHEM 202 or CHEM 205
PSCI 302
Recommended Preparation
CHEM 202 and CHEM 205
Schedule C

CHEM305 is an important paper for chemistry majors wishing to proceed to a career that involves biological chemistry and also for all general degree students requiring knowledge and understanding of biological chemistry.


Dr Andrea Vernall

Tel 64 3 479 4518

Location: Science II, 5n4

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Dr Andrea Vernall

Dr Nick Green

Dr E.W. Tan

Dr Courtney Ennis

Paper Structure

Amino Acids and Peptides

  • The chemistry and reactivity of amino acids and peptides.
  • Methods of isolation, purification and analysis of peptides and proteins.
  • Strategies used in the chemical synthesis of peptides.


  • The role and modes of action of enzymes in catalysing biological reactions.
  • Structure activity relationships and kinetics of enzymes.
  • Mechanisms of enzyme reactions using proteases as examples.
  • Strategies for enzyme inhibition in drug design.

Medicinal chemistry

  • Covering topics such as: Drugs and drug targets, biologically active compounds, pharmacokinetics, with a focus on optimisation of chemical structure for a desired biological outcome.

Spectroscopy of Biological Systems

  • Spectroscopic investigations are integral to the study of biological materials. We will examine the principles and applications of:
    1. FTIR, Raman and FRET spectroscopic techniques to interrogate polypeptides and proteins.
    2. NMR, EPR and Mossbauer spectroscopy to study specific metalloenzymes.
Teaching Arrangements
Three lectures per week and one 4-hour lab class per week.


Jones, J. Amino acid and peptide synthesis, Oxford University Press

Bruice, P.Y. Organic Chemistry, (4th edn), Prentice-Hall

Fersht, A. Enzyme structure and mechanism, Freeman

EBOOK - William O. Foye; Thomas L. Lemke; David A. Williams, Foye’s principles of medicinal chemistry, (7th ed), Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Graham L. Patrick, An introduction to medicinal chemistry, (5th ed), Oxford Press 2013

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Expectations at the completion of the paper:

  • An understanding of the scientific concepts underlying chemical transformation and structure determination involving biological molecules.
  • An appreciation of the chemical factors controlling biological processes.
  • An ability to identify fundamental concepts in chemistry underlying biological systems.
  • Demonstrated expertise in the generic activities of information retrieval, critical analysis and presentation, logistical planning and cooperative teamwork.
  • An understanding of how chemical knowledge is applied in a practical, problem-solving context.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 09:00-09:50 9-14, 16, 18-22
Thursday 09:00-09:50 9-14, 16-22
Friday 09:00-09:50 9-13, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Monday 14:00-17:50 10-14, 16, 18-21
A2 Tuesday 14:00-17:50 10-14, 16, 18-21