CHEM3008 The Molecules of Life

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
This unit contributes to the Synthetic Chemistry major stream with an introduction to the chemistry relevant to biological systems. Topics to be covered include the important classes of biomolecules: amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and oligonucleotides, addressing their stereochemistry, structure, synthesis, biosynthesis (including the function of selected coenzymes) and importance in living systems. The biological activity of important secondary metabolites along with their biosynthetic pathways will be highlighted. The role of metal ions in biology, with an emphasis on the fundamental transition metal chemistry relevant to the mechanisms of metalloenzymes and metal-based drugs, is also explored.
Students are able to (1) recall and integrate key knowledge and concepts about organic and inorganic chemistry relevant to biological systems; (2) demonstrate an understanding of basic facts, principles and theories of organic and inorganic chemistry; (3) solve problems at the biology/chemistry interface; (4) demonstrate an understanding of chemical terminology, nomenclature and conventions associated with the classes of biomolecules; (5) demonstrate an understanding of functional groups, their reactivity and interconversion; (6) acquire skills in performing standard laboratory procedures for simple synthetic organic, inorganic and analytical chemistry; (7) use instrumentation and interpretation of spectroscopic data for structure determination of inorganic and organic compounds; and (8) produce clear written communication of results of laboratory work and reading using correct scientific style.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) final examination; (2) quizzes; and (3) laboratories. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Gavin Flematti
Unit rules
CHEM2003 Chemical Synthesis
CHEM2001 Core Chemical Concepts and Techniques
CHEM3001 Essential Chemical Skills
CHEM2221 Biological and Medicinal Chemistry
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week; labs: 6 hours per week (for 6 weeks); tutorials: 1 per week
Unit Outline
Semester 1-2020 [SEM-1-2020]

Clayden, J. et al. Organic Chemistry, 2nd edn: Oxford University Press 2001

Dewick, P. Medicinal Natural Products, John Wiley and Sons, 1997-2008, any edition

Weller, M. et al. Inorganic Chemistry, 6th edn: Oxford University Press 2014

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.