BIOSCI 106 : Foundations of Biochemistry


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An introduction to the core elements of biochemistry, investigating biological processes at the chemical and molecular level. Key themes include the molecular structure of proteins, enzyme kinetics, biochemical energetics, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, nutrition, cell signalling, vision and aspects of plant biochemistry including world food production. These themes provide a framework for discussion of mechanisms underpinning human disease including diabetes and obesity, antibiotic resistance, drug development and plant medicinals.

Course Overview

Biochemistry describes the living world around us and the biological processes happening inside of us, using the language of chemistry. Biochemistry is intimately connected to the birth of life on this planet, with biochemical reactions on primordial Earth occurring some 4 billion or so years ago and predating the emergence of cells and organisms. The modern study of biochemistry covers an amazingly broad set of disciplines sharing concepts with organic and physical chemistry, biophysics, medical science, nutrition and food science, microbiology, physiology, cell biology and genetics. In this course we focus on the structures and interactions of biomolecules that define the biological processes of life, and aim to provide you with a grounding in the basic, universal concepts that will facilitate your future learning in biochemistry.

How does the study of biochemistry impact on our daily lives? There are many examples but we can highlight two focuses  that have improved each of our lives and that can make our country and the world better places to live in. Biochemistry has shed light on the genes and proteins that lead to disease and, in many cases, provided solutions for prevention, treatments or cures. Biochemistry underpins many research initiatives in New Zealand to support our agricultural economy, contributing to developments in both the plant and animal sciences, and also to our understanding of the environment and sustainability. We hope to spark a little passion in all of you for the molecules of life and the concepts that govern all aspects of biology in the universe! 

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Identify, explain and evaluate selected fundamental, universal concepts that drive molecular interactions and processes in biological systems. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Identify and describe core chemistry concepts, the role of biological catalysts and bioenergetics that are fundamental for synthesis of biomolecules and processes in living system (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Identify and describe the synthesis and role of lipids and adipose tissue in biological systems and disease. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Identify, explain and evaluate the role of nutrients in common biochemical pathways and disease; the relationship between bacteria, their host and development of antibiotic resistance. (Capability 1 and 2)
  5. Identify and describe how cells recognise and respond to changes in their environment, as well as the mechanisms of signal transduction and the role of signal transduction in disease and drug design. (Capability 1 and 2)
  6. Use and apply scientific practical skills in a safe and effective manner, and be able to critically evaluate, interpret and communicate experimental results. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  7. Develop and demonstrate the ability to work skillfully in a collaborative setting, communicating effectively to present scientific information in an articulate and rational way. (Capability 1, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Quizzes 5% Individual Coursework
Laboratories 25% Group & Individual Coursework
Test 30% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Final Exam

Students must pass the practical (laboratories) and the theory (quizzes, test and exam) independently to pass the course overall.


The Tuākana Programme actively supports students in the School of Biological Sciences throughout their academic journey; the BIOSCI 106 tutor is dedicated to supporting your learning in BIOSCI 106.

For more information and to find contact details for the BIOSCI 101 Tuākana coordinator, please see

Key Topics

Module 1: Chemistry of Life - the basic concepts of chemistry and universal rules that define the biology of life.
Module 2: Catalysing Life - the concepts underpinning biological catalysis that drive biological processes.
Module 3: Energetics of Life - the bioenergetic principles linking life's origins with all contemporary biological lifeforms.
Module 4: Lipids, metabolism and obesity - the role of water-insoluble molecules in biological processes and in medical conditions.
Module 5:  Nutrition and antibiotics - the ubiquitous role of nutrients in biology and the interplay between host, pathogen, and medical interventions.
Module 6: Signal Transduction - the key concepts underpinning how molecules and cells "talk" to each other.

Learning Resources

The BIOSCI 106 Course book (including a Lecture Guide and Laboratory guide) can be purchased from Ubiq, the university bookstore. Also available in Canvas in electronic format. You are required to bring the relevant pages for each laboratory section.

Recommended text book:  Appling et al., (2019) Biochemistry, Concepts and Connections, Global Edition eBook (2e)

Additional learning resources will be provided in CANVAS for each module or topic. Students who are approved to take this course remotely will be provided with appropriate resources to complete all practical and theoretical components.

Special Requirements

Students must pass the practical (laboratories) and the theory (quizzes, test and exam) independently to pass the course overall.
Evening test 6.30-8.00 pm, date for the test is published in the BIOSCI 106 Course Guide. (Students who are approved to take this course remotely will have alternative arrangements made).

Students are required to supply and wear a lab coat and safety glasses while in the teaching lab.

For students who are approved for remote learning due to COVID 19 impacts, please contact the course coordinator, Julie McIntosh ( or 09 9234023) to request access to alternative online laboratory activities.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 3 hours of lectures, 3 hours of labs per fortnight, while the remaining ~70 hours will be spent on reading and thinking about the content, assignments, practice questions,  and, test/exam preparation. 

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

You are welcome to discuss your learning needs with the BIOSCI 106 course coordinator, Julie McIntosh (; 09 923 4023).

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 27/07/2020 04:03 p.m.