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,
Sem 2 2021,
Sem 2 2022


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,
Sem 1 2022

Course Coordinator: A/Prof. Sylvia Urban

Course Coordinator Phone: +61399253376

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: City Campus

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment, by email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

This is an introductory, enabling course requiring no formal prerequisites. However, if you have not done VCE Chemistry, you may want to seek the support of the RMIT University Learning Lab for Maths, statistics, physics and chemistry via RMIT Library

Course Description

The course Chemistry for Life Sciences 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: 

CHEM1239 contributes to the development of the following program learning outcomes:

BP199 – Bachelor of Science (Food Technology and Nutrition)
PLO2: Exhibit depth and breadth of scientific knowledge
PLO3: Critically analyse and solve scientific problems

BP293 – Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology/Biomedical Science)
PLO2: Exhibit depth and breadth of scientific knowledge
PLO3: Critically analyse and solve scientific problems

BP289 – Bachelor of Science (Food Technology/Business Management)
PLO2: Exhibit depth and breadth of scientific knowledge
PLO3: Critically analyse and solve scientific problems

BP226 – Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology)
PLO2: Scientific knowledge
PLO3: Inquiry and problem solving

BH102 - Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours)
PLO7: Apply pharmaceutical, medication and health knowledge and skills to improve patient and population health
PLO8: Formulate, prepare, and supply medications and therapeutic products

BP147 - Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Laboratory Medicine)
PLO1: Knowledge capability
PLO2: Technical capability

BP231 - Bachelor of Biomedical Science
PLO2: Exhibit depth and breadth of scientific knowledge
PLO3: Critically analyse and solve scientific problems

BP311 - Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
PLO1: Exhibit depth and breadth of scientific knowledge



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: 

  • Engagement with pre-recorded lecture content and attendance at lectorials where 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 laboratory sessions, pre-recorded lectures, lectorials, work tasks, supported by printed and online material (available through Canvas). In all units, you will be expected to undertake tutorial/revision problems 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 course material.

Self-directed learning: You are expected to undertake self-directed learning activities to develop and consolidate your knowledge. The activities associated with this course are designed to enable you to better develop independent learning skills to support your commitment to lifelong learning as a science professional and a university graduate. The self-directed learning activities will also support your knowledge of the material covered in the formal learning program and enhance the consolidation and application of that knowledge.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with additional resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems accessed via your myRMIT site. You will be able to access all learning resources (recorded lectures, tutorials and laboratory information, including a copy of the laboratory manual), all course information and additional learning materials through the Learning Management System (LMS) Canvas for this course. Lists of relevant reference texts, resources in the library and freely accessible internet sites.

Overview of Assessment

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 Laboratory 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 for this course will be based on a combination of a formal online assessments and your performance in the laboratory, and will assess your ability to solve higher level problems in chemistry.


Assessment 1. Online quizzes
Weighting: 25%
Assessment task 1 supports CLOs 1-5

Assessment Task 2. Foundation Concepts online assessments
Weighting: 45%
Assessment task 2 supports CLOs 1-5

Assessment Task 3. Laboratory component assessments
Weighting: 30% HURDLE
Assessment task 3 supports CLOs 6-9