Course Title: Chemistry for Life Sciences

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Chemistry for Life Sciences

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2006,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020


Bundoora Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2006,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016


Bundoora Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 1 2020

Course Coordinator: Stephen Headey

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 7180

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: City 3.2.10B

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment, by email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

You should have passed year 12 Chemistry, or a fundamental university level Chemistry course or another equivalent course, or possess equivalent capabilities.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to university level chemistry, with an emphasis on the topics and areas necessary for an understanding of biochemistry and pharmacology. You will gain a deep understanding of chemical principles, especially those relevant to the chemistry of living systems. Areas covered include organic chemistry and stereochemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, biophysical chemistry, and a laboratory program designed to extend aspects of theory and chemical laboratory techniques. On successful completion of this course you will have a thorough understanding of university level chemistry suitable as a foundation for learning and understanding the chemistry of biological systems. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course is undertaken by multiple programs including but not limited to: 

BH102 Bachelor of Pharmacy 

BP147 Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Laboratory Medicine) 

BP231 Bachelor of Biomedical Science  

BP311 Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Pharmaceutical Sciences)  

This course contributes to the development of the following program learning outcomes:

1.0 Demonstrate a coherent understanding of science by:
1.1 Demonstrating an understanding of the scientific method and an ability to apply the scientific method in practice.

3.0 Critically analyse and solve scientific problems by:
3.3 Demonstrating the ability to employ and apply appropriate critical and analytical thought in a scientific manner.

4.0 Demonstrate effective communication of science by:
4.2 Demonstrating your ability to write technical and scientific reports.

5.0 Demonstrate accountability for your own learning and scientific work by:
5.3 Demonstrating your ability to work responsibly safely and ethically.


The objectives are to develop your knowledge capabilities in chemistry that are particularly relevant to the biological and life sciences. 

On completion of this course you should be able to: 

 1. Recall the structure and properties of the major types of biological organic molecules, and be able to describe the relationships between structure, properties and functions; 

2. Describe organic reaction mechanisms that impact on biochemical processes; 

3. Discuss the fundamental chemistry of elements of biological importance, their significance to biological processes, and understand the biological transport and partitioning of solutes, hydrogen ions and water; 

4. Describe the kinetics of reactions and diffusion processes; 

5. Extend the appreciation of fundamental principles of chemistry into areas of major importance for the life sciences. 

The laboratory component will further develop your practical capabilities. You should be able to: 

6. Safely and efficiently perform simple chemical laboratory processes; 

7. Conduct, record, analyse and interpret chemical observations and measurements; 

8. Effectively communicate the results, at a consolidating level; 

9. Develop your scientific problem-solving skills. 

Overview of Learning Activities

 The learning activities included in this course are: 

  • Online lectureswhere syllabus material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples; 
  • Completion of tutorial questions designed to give further practice in the application of theory, an opportunity to ask questions, and feedback on your progress and understanding; 
  • Laboratory exercises, to give you experience of fundamental chemical practical techniques; and 
  • Private study, working through the course as presented in classes and learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems, many requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter. 

This is a theory and laboratory based course, with a combination of online lectures, work tasks, supported by printed and online material (available through Canvas). In all units, you will be expected to undertake tutorial problems and past examination papers to assist with the development of logical thinking and problem solving skills: this activity will guide you with the accumulation of a suitable body of knowledge in the topic area, and provide you with an indication of your understanding of the lecture material. 

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be able to access course information and all learning materials (online lectures, lecture notes, revision sheets, etc.) through Canvas. 

Lists of textbooks, references and other resources are provided in Part B of the course guide. 

The library Chemistry guide ( will introduce you to the chemistry information resources available to staff and students at RMIT University. 

Overview of Assessment

This is a theory and laboratory-based course and assessment will be a combination of formal examination, class tests and on your practical reports. These will assess your ability to solve higher level problems in chemistry. 

Note that: 

All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching). 

The Practical assessments are a hurdle for this course, meaning that you must receive more than 50% on the Practical component in order to pass the course. The skills learned in Practical are essential to ensure that you can operate safely as a professional. This hurdle has been approved by the SEH PVC Learning & Teaching. 

The assessment will be based on a combination of a formal examination, a test and your performance in the laboratory, and will assess your ability to solve higher level problems in chemistry. Specifically: 

Assessment 1. Formative online quizzes

Weighting: 20% 

Assessment task 1 supports CLOs 1-5 


Assessment Task 2. Foundation Concepts online assessment 

Weighting: 50% 

Assessment task 2 supports CLOs 1-5 


Assessment Task 3. Laboratory component assessments

Weighting: 30% 

Assessment task 3 supports CLOs 6-9

Passing the Laboratory component is a Hurdle requirement for this course. If you do not pass the Practical assesment, you do not pass CHEM1240.