Fall 2020 - CHEM 180 D100

The Chemistry of Life (3)

Class Number: 2114

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 9 – Dec 8, 2020: TBA, TBA

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Oct 21, 2020
    Wed, 9:30–11:20 a.m.
    Location: TBA

    Dec 19, 2020
    Sat, 7:00–10:00 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    CHEM 121 with a minimum grade of C-.



A basic introduction to chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, and equilibria as they apply to the structure and function of biomolecules. Concepts will be illustrated using modern examples of biological systems. Students will be introduced to central ideas and selected molecular engineering methods in biochemistry and molecular biology. Students with credit for CHEM 122 or CHEM 124 may not take this course for further credit.


Please note, this course outline was accurate at the time of publication but is subject to change.

Mode of Teaching:

3 lecture hours/week; 1 tutorial hour/week
Lecture: Asynchronous 
Tutorial: Synchronous


1. Organic Molecules (≈ 3 Lectures)

  • Drawing organic molecules
  • Geometry of bonds and bond lengths
  • Hydrogen Bonds
  • Electrostatic interactions
  • Hydrophobic interactions
2. Thermodynamics (≈ 4 Lectures)
  • Three laws, definitions
  • Entropy
  • Enthalpy
  • Gibbs free energy, spontaneity
3. Chemical Equilibria and Acids/Bases (≈ 5 Lectures)
  • Le Chatelier's principle
  • Kw, Keq, pH, pKa
  • Henderson-Hasselbach Equation
  • Titration curves
  • Ionization of amino acid residues
4. Chemical Kinetics (≈ 5 Lectures)
  • Reaction coordinate diagrams
  • Basic rate equations
  • Reaction order
  • Catalysts (enzymes)
5. Intoduction to Biomolecules (≈ 5 Lectures)
  • Compartmentalization
  • Functional localization of Biomolecules
6. Central Dogma of Molecular Biology (≈ 4 Lectures)
  • Structure of cells
  • Flow of information in central dogma
  • Location and significance of molecules
  • Enzymes involved
7. Nervous System (≈ 9 Lectures) (Integrated Topics)
  • Electrochemistry overview
  • Oxidation and reduction
  • Potential difference / membrane potential
  • Nernst equation
  • Neuron cell structure
  • Synaptic structure
  • Saltatory transmission
  • Action potentials
  • Ion channels
  • Chemical Neurotransmitters (Acetylcholine)
  • Acetylcholinesterase
    • Localization
    • Enzyme mechanism
    • Enzyme kinetics
    • Diffusion limit
    • Enzyme inhibition
  • Kinesin
    • Microtubules
    • Conformational changes
    • Proteins as machines that perform work


  1. To give engineering students who have taken CHEM 121-4 General Chemistry and Laboratory I sufficient background to enter KIN 208-3 Introduction to Physiological Systems.
  2. To give science or engineering students who have CHEM 121, but no background in biology, a basic understanding of central concepts of bioorganic chemistry and biochemistry.


  • Assignments 8%
  • Quizzes 12%
  • Midterm Exam 30%
  • Final Exam 50%


Course Notes:

  • Lectures allocated to each topic are an estimate and may vary slightly.
  • Notes are provided in class.
Online Exam Invigilation: Students completing exams remotely must comply with the online invigilation procedures implemented by the course instructor.



Required Materials:

  • Calculator
Technology Requirements:
  • Students are required to have a desktop or laptop computer, high-speed internet access, and a webcam and microphone (built-in or external) to participate in online courses.


Steven S. Zumdahl & Donald J. DeCoste. Chemical Principles. 8th Edition. 2017. Publisher: Cengage Learning.
ISBN: 9781305856745

Department Undergraduate Notes:

A grade of C- or better is required for all prerequisite courses.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).