AP0415 - Introduction to Biological and Medicinal Chemistry

What will I learn on this module?

This module will explore the fascinating world of Biological and Medicinal Chemistry and build from your basic understanding of core chemistry gained elsewhere in the programme. You will gain knowledge and understanding about the structures and properties small biomolecules such as amino acids, purine and pyramidine bases and carbohydrates and lipids. You will gain an in depth understanding about the structures of biopolymers such as proteins and nucleic acids and the broad variety of complexes they participate in. You will understand how the structure and function correlate and how the weak (non-covalent) interactions such as hydrogen bonds, electrostatic interactions and van der Waals interactions play vital role for formation and stabilization of the structures in biological macromolecules.

You will understand how enzymes work, what the catalytic strategies of the cell are and how the enzyme mechanisms can be realized chemically. You will learn about enzyme kinetics, inhibition. Attention will be given to the receptors and how they interact with external signals and deliver the signal within the cell. You will then gain knowledge about the main steps and reactions of metabolism (both biosynthesises and catabolism) and you will gain key insights into the biochemical aspects of DNA replication and gene expression.

Based on the solid understanding of Biological Chemistry you will then explore the fundamentals of Medicinal Chemistry. You will understand the basic concepts of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, drug discovery, design and development. You will be taught basic elements of combinatorial and parallel synthesis, QSAR, computer-aided drug design. You will gain an insight into antibacterial, antiviral and anticancer drugs structure and action. Practical laboratory and computer classes will provide you with key practical skills for working with enzymes and will introduce you to basic tools for computer visualizations and evaluation of small and large molecules and their interactions.

How will I learn on this module?

The module will be delivered through a combination of lectures where the main theories and concepts are discussed. Computer classes and laboratory classes will provide illustration and visualisation of the concepts through problems solving and skills developing exercises. The lectures will provide you with the background knowledge in biological and medicinal chemistry, the laboratory classes will provide you with the practical skills to study biomolecules and the computer classes will provide the opportunity to visualise and evaluate biomolecules and their interactions with drug molecules.

The module will be assessed by examination (60%) and assessment of the investigative practical exercises (40%) (incorporating both computer and laboratory experiments).

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Teaching materials, lectures, practical and computer tutorials will be available in the eLearning Portal (eLP – Blackboard Ultra) site of the Module. The tutors will be available for consultations face to face or remotely (e-mail and telephone).

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Structural characteristics of small biomolecules and biological macromolecules and enzyme structure.

2. Mode of action in biological molecules mechanisms, kinetics and inhibition, receptors, metabolism and its regulation.

3. Structural characteristics of common medicinal classes, modes of action, pharmacokinetics, drug discovery and design, QSAR and synthesis.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

4. Investigational and experimental skills in biological and medicinal chemistry including both laboratory and computational approaches to molecular visualisation and problem-solving.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

5. Students will develop curiosity and awareness of chemistry in modern-day biological and medicinal application in research and industry

How will I be assessed?

Component 1 (40%) Experimental Report portfolio.
You will be assessed by the reports of your investigational and computational experiments. The assessment aims to reflect your practical skills on computational chemistry methods and your ability critically to apply them and asses their performance. This will assess MLOs 4 and 5 principally

The ESAF submission of these reports will be staged and you will receive staged electronic feedback which will be formative and help to inform and improve your subsequent submissions

Component 2 Exam (60%)
1.5 hour online multiple choice/short answer. ESAF submission. This will assess MLOs 1-3 principally. ESAF submission and feedback process





Module abstract

Biological and Medicinal Chemistry are some of the most rapidly developing areas of the modern chemical science and are very highly demanded by industry and research. You will learn how the structures of biological macromolecules are formed and relate to their function. You will learn how the enzymes catalyse metabolic processes and how disruptions in their function can lead to diseases. You will learn how new drugs are discovered and designed to combat these diseases and in doing so you will learn elements of combinatorial and parallel synthesis, computer-aided drug design information how antibacterial, antiviral anticancer drugs are designed and work. This is a fascinating, exciting and vital specialism within chemistry, one that has global industries and research contributing to it and taking this module will kick start your potential for future employment and further study/research in this well- resourced and wealth creating branch of chemistry.

Course info

UCAS Code F110

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Applied Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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