Physical Chemistry for Biosciences

BCHM 320/420
Taught in
Spring 2021, Fall 2018
Course Level
Graduate, Undergraduate
Lifelong Support

Course Description

Physical Chemistry for Biosciences (BCHM 320) is a course tailored to explore the principles of physical chemistry as they apply to molecular structures and chemical reactivity in biochemical systems. The course delves into solution thermodynamics, kinetics and equilibria, quantum mechanics, and modern spectroscopic techniques, focusing on their application in studying biomolecules. Key questions addressed in the course include understanding the likelihood of biochemical reactions, their speed, energy considerations, molecular bonding, and the determination and interpretation of biomolecular structures.

Prerequisites for this course include a year of general chemistry (CHEM 101, 202, 211, 212), organic chemistry, and mathematics courses (MATH 217 and 231), with BIOL 301 being recommended. The course structure includes an introduction to fundamental laws, phase equilibria, chemical equilibria, ion and electron transport, reaction rates, chemical bonding, and the quantization in microscopic systems. It features regular homework assignments, quizzes, exams, and a project presentation component.

The required textbook for BCHM 320 is Atkins and de Paula’s “Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences” (2nd edition), which provides a comprehensive coverage of the course material and serves as an essential guide for students in this field.

Lecture content

Lecture 1 The First Law
Lecture 2 The Second Law
Lecture 3 Phase equilibria
Lecture 4 Chemical equilibria
Lecture 5 Ion and electron transport
Lecture 6 - 7 The rates of reactions
Lecture 8 - 10 Accounting for the rate laws
Lecture 11 Complex biochemical processes
Lecture 12 - 13 Microscopic systems and quantization
Lecture 14 Chemical bonding