Fall 2021 - CHEM 180 D700

The Chemistry of Life (3)

Class Number: 7724

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:


  • Exam Times + Location:

    Oct 14, 2021
    6:30 PM – 8:20 PM

    Nov 18, 2021
    6:30 PM – 9:20 PM

  • 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: Remote (Asynchronous)
Tutorial: In-Person or Remote (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 10%
  • Quizzes 15%
  • Midterm Exam 30%
  • Final Exam 45%


Course Notes:

  • Lectures allocated to each topic are an estimate and may vary slightly.
  • Notes are provided in class.
Exam Dates: CHEM 122 and CHEM 180 have been scheduled as a combined course, meaning that the exam dates for both courses will appear on this outline. Students enrolled in CHEM 180 will not have an exam on Thursday, November 18th, 2021.

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 course components.


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 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.