Chemistry for Biological Systems

Building on basic chemical principles, this course provides the atomic and molecular foundations for understanding chemistry and the life sciences. Starting from the structure of the atom and an understanding of Gibbs energy, it builds a chemical model for bonding, the composition of molecules, non-covalent interactions, chemical equilibria, acids/bases, chemical reactivity, and biological macromolecules. The theory is supported by practical experiments.

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

Any domestic student or on-shore international student applying for selection into the Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) needs to enrol in the Manawatū (internal) offering of this course. Studying this course by distance would make you ineligible for BVSc selection.

Attendance at the laboratory sessions is compulsory. Students must achieve at least 50% in the Laboratory assessment and at least 35% in each of the tests in order to pass the course.

Expected prior learning

It is strongly recommended that students have achieved at least 14 credits from NCEA Level 3 Chemistry or passed 123103 or equivalent.


Similar content
123101, 123171

You cannot enrol in this course if you have passed (or are enrolled in) any of the course(s) above as these courses have similar content or content at a higher level.

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 Demonstrate proficiency with basic practical techniques in the chemistry laboratory.
  • 2 Apply theories of bonding to predict the structure, interactions, properties and reactivity of molecules.
  • 3 Explain chemical reactions in terms of molecular structure of the reactants and products.
  • 4 Apply energy and equilibrium concepts to understand chemical changes.
  • 5 Apply chemical concepts to solve basic problems and interpret real-world phenomena.

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


Assessment Learning outcomes assessed Weighting
Practical/Placement 1 2 3 4 5 15%
Participation 1 0%
Test 2 3 4 5 10%
Test 2 5 25%
Test 2 3 4 5 25%
Exam (centrally scheduled) 2 3 4 5 25%

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.

Textbooks needed

There are no set texts for this course.