CHEM 350 : Topics in Chemistry


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Topics in modern chemistry. Students will select three of the modules offered, details of which are available in the School of Chemical Sciences Undergraduate Handbook.

Course Overview

This course deals with a number of aspects of modern chemistry. It aims to introduce some of the most important and emerging 'non-traditional' topics in chemistry. For example, how chemistry can be applied at the interface between chemistry and biology, and between chemistry and engineering/materials science. 

To achieve a pass in this course, students are required to complete all three modules that are being offered, and achieve a pass in the overall results. The course will be assessed by internal assessments (tests and assignments). There are no examinations with this course.  The three modules that are on offer are:

  • Polymers and 3D Printing (Dr Jianyong Jin)
  • X-Ray Crystallography (Associate Professor Tilo Söhnel)
  • Chemical Biology (Dr Ivanhoe Leung)

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 30 points at Stage II in Chemistry To complete this course students must enrol in CHEM 350 A and B, or CHEM 350

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
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the content taught in the individual modules (Capability 1)
  2. Explain and communicate key concepts of the individual modules (Capability 4 and 5)
  3. Apply the concepts from the individual modules to solve relevant problems (Capability 2, 3 and 5)
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the wider implications of the concepts taught in the individual modules (Capability 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 30% Group Coursework
Tests 70% Individual Test
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4

Key Topics

Module 1 – Polymers and 3D Printing
This is an introduction to polymer science for 3D printing. This module begins with the basic science of polymer chemistry. If you have taken CHEM380, there will be a small overlap of the content. Then in this module we will teach the traditional polymer processing methods, including extrusion, injection moulding etc. These traditional polymer processing requires the sophisticated equipment and mould design, which are both capital intensive and demand essential skills, which are possessed by professional polymer Engineers. With the arrival of 3D printing (aka additive manufacturing technology) and available inexpensive home use 3D printer, more people can design and rapidly prototype polymer products. In the module, you will learn the basics of 3D printing and practice at Newmarket polymer workshop.

Dr Jianyong Jin: ext 86624, room 903-227,

Lectures: 12 Lectures
Assessment: Test 70%
One group assignment 30%

Learning objectives/outcomes:
By the end of this module students should be able to:
  • Polymer nomenclature, terms and definitions
  • Overview of polymer types, structures, properties and methods of formation
  • Polymer molecular weights definitions and measurement
  • Step-growth Polymerization mechanism and kinetic analysis
  • Free Radical Polymerization mechanism and kinetic analysis
  • Introduction and overview of 3D Printers and basic technology
  • Understand four typical FDM, SLA, DLP and CLIP printing process
  • Polymer materials for 3D printing
  • Detailed 3D printing process based on DLP process
Module 2 – X-Ray Crystallography
X-ray crystallography is the most accurate way of determining the positions of atoms and molecules in crystalline solids. The technique can be used to determine the three-dimensional structure of simple molecules, natural products, metal complexes, proteins and viruses. The course introduces crystallographic symmetry and space groups. The phase problem will be outlined along with the Patterson method for structure solution.

A/Prof. Tilo Söhnel: ext 89722, room 302-965,

Lectures: 12 Lectures
Assessment: Test 70%
Two assignments 20% and 10%

Learning objectives/outcomes:
Introduction to the principles and practice of X-ray diffraction for the determination of the three dimensional structure of crystalline solids. Students need to display understanding of:
  • Nature of the X-ray experiment
  • Space lattices and crystal unit cells. Crystal symmetry. Bravais lattices
  • Miller indices
  • Crystal density and the number of molecules in a unit cell
  • Point groups and Space groups. Special positions in space groups
  • Diffraction of X-rays. Bragg’s law and Friedel’s law
  • The structure factor, atomic scattering factor, thermal motion
  • Space group determination. Systematic absences from the diffraction pattern
  • Heavy-atom methods of overcoming the phase problem
  • Structure solving using the Patterson function. Harker lines and planes
  • Refinement and the crystallographic R-factor
Module 3 – Chemical Biology
The course will illustrate how chemistry can be applied to biology. The emphasis will be on mechanisms, chemical transformations and chemical principles, and not memorising complex structures and biological pathways. An introduction will be given to provide background for chemists about different classes of biological molecules. The remainder of the course will focus on protein and nucleic acid chemistry, and will build on existing knowledge from all branches of chemistry including organic and analytical chemistry. Finally, recent advances in the field of chemical biology will also be discussed.

Dr Ivanhoe Leung: ext 81102, room 302-819,

Lectures: 12 Lectures
Assessment: Test 70%
Assignment 30%
Learning Objectives/Outcomes:
Students need to display understanding of the following topics:
  • Chemistry of biological systems: including amino acids, peptides, proteins, and nucleic acids
  • Recombinant protein production and purification
  • Solid phase oligonucleotide synthesis
  • Enzyme chemistry, including enzyme kinetics, and examples and mechanisms of enzyme catalysis
  • Protein sequencing and target identification, including the use of chemical probes to identify the biological targets that are responsible for certain biological functions
  • Posttranslational modifications, including chemistry of introducing posttranslational modifications and the effect of PTMs in protein function and recognition
  • Introduction to nucleic acids, including the structures of DNA and RNA, and their roles in replication, transcription and translation
  • Genetic engineering, including RNAi and CRISPR-Cas technologies

Learning Resources

Useful textbooks (X-Ray Crystallography):
1. “Crystallography –An Introduction, 3rd edition” Walter Borchardt-Ott, Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2011 (e-Book).
2. “The Basics of Crystallography and Diffraction, 3rd Edition” C. Hammond, Oxford Scientific Publications, 2009 (e-Book).
3. “Fundamentals of Crystallography, 3rd Edition” C. Giacovazzo et al., Oxford Scientific Publications, 2011.
4. “Structure of materials an introduction to crystallography, diffraction and symmetry, 2nd Edition” M. De Graff and M. E. McHenry, Cambridge University Press, 2012 (e-Book).

Useful textbooks (Chemical Biology):
Reading and supplementary material will be provided as course notes/handouts. Useful text books
1. “Foundations of Chemical Biology (Oxford Chemistry Primers)” C. M. Dobson, J. A. Gerrard and A.J. Pratt, Oxford University Press, 2001.
2. “Principles of Biochemistry, 4thEdition” D. Voet, J. G. Voet and C. W. Pratt, John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
3. “Biochemistry, 7thEdition” J. M. Berg, J. L. Tymoczko and J. Stryer, W. H. Freeman & Company, 2011.
4. “Fundamentals of Enzymology, 3rdEdition” N. C. Priceand L. Stevens, Oxford University Press, 1999.

Special Requirements

To achieve a pass in this course, students are required to complete all three modules that are being offered, and achieve a pass in the overall results. 

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 36 hours of lectures and tutorial, 84 hours of reading and thinking about the content and on assignments and/or test 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

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 11/01/2020 02:51 p.m.