Inorganic and Physical Chemistry

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
04 August 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BSC C700 Biochemistry,
BSC C701 Biochemistry (Including Placement Year),
BSC C703 Biochemistry (Including Year Abroad),
BSC CR00 Biochemistry (Including Foundation Year),
MSCIC098 Biochemistry and Biotechnology (Including Year Abroad),
MSCIC099 Biochemistry and Biotechnology (Including Placement Year),
MSCICZ99 Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Module description

This module aims to understand the function of biological systems by examining their underlying biochemical principles.

Module aims

The aim of this module is:

  • To address aspects of inorganic and physical chemistry that are fundamental to an understanding of the function of biological systems.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Describe the structure, bonding & biochemical importance of small molecules containing the p-block elements O, N, S & P.

  2. Discuss models for structure & bonding of metal ion complexes.

  3. Describe fundamental thermodynamics and kinetics and perform associated calculations.

  4. Explain how the absorption of energy by molecules is used as a basis for understanding spectroscopy.

  5. Demonstrate basic skills in numerical/data analysis & writing chemical formulae & equations.

  6. Demonstrate basic practical skills in analytical and preparative chemistry.

Module information

The inorganic chemistry component of this module concentrates firstly on small biochemically pertinent molecules containing the p-block elements oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur & phosphorus. The underlying emphasis is on the importance of electron accountancy in structural representations, which leads to comprehension of the action of redox enzymes in metabolism. Also covered are properties of main-group and transition metal cations, followed by an introduction to their roles in biology.

The physical chemistry component of this module is partly directed towards understanding (bio)chemical kinetics and thermodynamics. Emphasis is on determining reaction mechanisms from experimental kinetic data that inform us on reaction orders, reaction rates (and rate constants) and activation energies, plus assessing to what extent a reaction may proceed based on thermodynamic parameters. Also included is an introduction to several types of spectroscopy, which is centred upon considering the effects of absorption of electromagnetic energy by molecules.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 1-hour workshop per week.
  • One 1-hour lecture per week.
  • One revision class before the MCQ.
  • One revision class before the summer exam.
  • Four 3-hour practical sessions or equivalent.


  • Wilkins, P.C. and Wilkins, R.G. (1997) Inorganic chemistry in biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Atkins, P., de Paula, J. and Keeler, J. (2022) Atkins' Physical Chemistry. 12th Revised edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Laurence Spector (no date) The Math Page - Free Online Math Courses. Available at:
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Worksheet 1      
Coursework   Worksheet 2      
Exam  MCQ exam: In-Person, Closed Book, 50 minutes during Early Exams 
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 60 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 60 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 
Exam  Reassessment MCQ exam: In-Person, Closed Book, 50 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

Additional coursework information


  • MCQ exam.
  • Summer exam.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
33% 67%


Coursework Exam
33% 67%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Dimitri Svistunenko, email:
Dr Dima Svistunenko, Dr Marcus Edwards, Dr Paul Dobbin
School Undergraduate Office, email: bsugoffice (Non essex users should add to create the full email address)



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 134 hours, 26 (19.4%) hours available to students:
108 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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