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Bioinorganic Chemistry

Module titleBioinorganic Chemistry
Module codeBIO2091
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Clive Butler ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Metals are required in many different biological systems and processes, and also find application in a whole host of drugs and medical diagnostic agents. You will build on your existing biochemical and chemical knowledge to understand the important interactions between metals and macromolecules (such as DNA and proteins). You will learn how organisms use metals in key life processes, such as respiration and electron transfer, how they transport and store metals and understand how we can use our knowledge of bonding and reactivity to design therapeutic and diagnostic agents at the cutting edge of medicine.

You will gain experience studying metalloprotein biochemistry and the use of model compounds for studying oxygen binding. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module builds upon concepts and knowledge of biochemistry and inorganic chemistry introduced in Stage 1 and now provides you with a more in-depth study of bonding, redox reactions and bio-inorganic chemistry and moves on to study the role of metallochemistry in biology and medicine.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Illustrate quantitatively physical processes as applied to chemical biology
  • 2. Discuss the inorganic aspects of biochemical processes
  • 3. Explain the roles of metals in biology and medicine

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Describe and evaluate approaches to our understanding of chemical biology with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles
  • 5. Describe in some detail essential facts and theory across a subdiscipline of the biosciences
  • 6. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 7. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis and enquiry within the biosciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently by written means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 9. Develop, with some guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with valid conclusions
  • 10. Analyse and interpret appropriate data, drawing on a range of sources, with limited guidance
  • 11. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

This module is divided into two distinct sections:

  • Bioinorganic Chemistry – Topics covered will include: Metal management in biological systems. Hydrolytic enzymes and zinc. Oxygen transport and storage. Electron transport and cytochromes.
  • Metalloprotein Biochemistry – Topics covered will include: Metal availability and selection. Transition metals in biological processes, their role in electron transfer reactions, active site structures and catalytic mechanisms. Metalloid biochemistry – selenoproteins.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching15Laboratory sessions or workshops (5 x 3 hours)
Guided Independent Study47Guided reading of literature, literature research and revision
Guided Independent Study40Completion of CA and practical assessments
Guided Independent Study26Preparation for practical sessions


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Lecturer and GTA feedback during workshops5 x 3 hours3-4, 7-8, 10-11Oral
Feedback via ELE Forumad hoc1-6, 8-9Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination602 hours1-6, 8-10Written via tutor
Workshop report201500 words1-10Written
Essay201500 words1-10Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination1-6, 8-10August Ref/Def
Workshop reportExamination1-6, 8-10August Ref/Def
EssayExamination1-6, 8-10August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Fenton. Biocoordination Chemistry, Oxford University Press, Primer no 25, 1994
  • Kaim, Schwederski and Klein. Bioinorganic Chemistry: Inorganic Elements in the Chemistry of Life, Wiley, 2nd Edition, 2013

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Metallo-protein biochemistry, catalysis, metals, proteins, enzymes, inorganic chemistry

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

BIO1332 Biochemistry, BIO1343 Fundamental Inorganic and Physical Chemistry or BIO1340 Fundamentals of Inorganic Chemistry or NSC1003 Foundations in Natural Science

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date