Chemistry and Living Systems

This course takes a wide range of examples from everyday life to illustrate concepts of organic and biological chemistry. The structure, properties and reactions of organic compounds, identification of organic compounds using spectroscopy, and the mechanisms of organic reactions are covered. It also introduces the concepts of chemical equilibrium, particularly as they are applied to acids and base, and chemical kinetics.

Course code

Qualifications are made up of courses. Some universities call these papers. Each course is numbered using six digits.



The fourth number of the course code shows the level of the course. For example, in course 219206, the fourth number is a 2, so it is a 200-level course (usually studied in the second year of full-time study).



Each course is worth a number of credits. You combine courses (credits) to meet the total number of credits needed for your qualification.




Course planning information

Course notes

Manawatu and Albany Internal: Attendance at all labs is compulsory for internal students and 50% of lab marks must be achieved. To pass the course a score of at least 35% in the final examination must be achieved. Distance: Attendance at Contact Workshop is compulsory. Test result will be ignored and Examination weighted at 65% if this gives a better overall mark. To pass the course a score of at least 35% in the final examination must be achieved.

Expected prior learning

Students should have achieved at least 14 credits at NCEA Level 3 Chemistry, or passed course 123.103, or equivalent. Before starting you should be able to describe, name and classify matter and perform calculations involving measurement; balanced equations and concentration calculations in standard units. This course is tough if you haven't got the background. Find out if you have what you need by taking this basic numeracy quiz.


Choose just one

The courses listed above have similar content to this one meaning you can only enrol in this course or one of the listed courses. Only one of the courses can be credited towards your qualification.

Learning outcomes

What you will learn. Knowledge, skills and attitudes you’ll be able to show as a result of successfully finishing this course.

  • 1 Describe common organic compounds including biologically important molecules such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats and other natural products and commercially important groups of materials such as polymers, detergents, fuels, dyes, and fragrances will also be considered.
  • 2 Interpret the name or formula of an organic compound in terms of the functional groups present in the molecule, its stereochemistry including dynamic structure, and electronic properties.
  • 3 Explain and carry out the process of characterizing simple organic compounds using spectroscopic methods including NMR and IR spectroscopy.
  • 4 Associate typical chemical reactivity with different functional groups and write equations for the reactions.
  • 5 Recognise some of the common mechanisms of organic reactions and use these mechanisms to explain and predict products. Write chemical equations for and analyse organic reactions in contexts such as industrial processes and biological transformations.
  • 6 Relate the concept of chemical equilibrium to reactions, including organic transformations, to analyse properties such as acidity and basicity; and apply the concept to industrial, biological and environmental processes.
  • 7 Use the ideas of reaction kinetics to analyse reactions in terms of fundamental molecular processes and interpret the consequences for the preparation and reactions of organic materials.

Learning outcomes can change before the start of the semester you are studying the course in.


Assessment Learning outcomes assessed Weighting
Test 1 2 10%
Test 1 3 4 5 15%
Test 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10%
Written Assignment 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 20%
Exam (centrally scheduled) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 45%
Distance only
Assessment Learning outcomes assessed Weighting
Written Assignment 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10%
Test 1 2 3 4 10%
Test 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10%
Written Assignment 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 15%
Exam (centrally scheduled) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 55%

Assessment weightings can change up to the start of the semester the course is delivered in.

You may need to take more assessments depending on where, how, and when you choose to take this course.

Explanation of assessment types

Computer programmes
Computer animation and screening, design, programming, models and other computer work.
Creative compositions
Animations, films, models, textiles, websites, and other compositions.
Exam College or GRS-based (not centrally scheduled)
An exam scheduled by a college or the Graduate Research School (GRS). The exam could be online, oral, field, practical skills, written exams or another format.
Exam (centrally scheduled)
An exam scheduled by Assessment Services (centrally) – you’ll usually be told when and where the exam is through the student portal.
Oral or performance or presentation
Debates, demonstrations, exhibitions, interviews, oral proposals, role play, speech and other performances or presentations.
You may be assessed on your participation in activities such as online fora, laboratories, debates, tutorials, exercises, seminars, and so on.
Creative, learning, online, narrative, photographic, written, and other portfolios.
Practical or placement
Field trips, field work, placements, seminars, workshops, voluntary work, and other activities.
Technology-based or experience-based simulations.
Laboratory, online, multi-choice, short answer, spoken, and other tests – arranged by the school.
Written assignment
Essays, group or individual projects, proposals, reports, reviews, writing exercises, and other written assignments.

Course delivery details

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