Chemistry (CHEM) 301

Introduction to Biochemistry (Revision 6)

CHEM 301 Course Cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: CHEM 350 and CHEM 360 or equivalent undergraduate courses taken at an accredited post-secondary institution.

Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology

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CHEM 301 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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As a natural science, biochemistry is the study of the chemical processes that drive biological systems. This course explores the basic principles of biochemistry and develops the student’s appreciation and understanding of biological networks.

CHEM 301 focuses on the understanding of biochemical processes in the context of chemical principles; and the importance of research design and application in the investigation of questions in biochemistry. Because the field of biochemistry is continually evolving and touches many areas of cell biology, this course also includes an elementary introduction to the study of molecular biology.


Unit 1: Cells, Water, and Buffers

  • Lesson 1: Introduction to Biochemistry and Biochemical Research Literature
  • Lesson 2: Cells: The Bio of Biochemistry
  • Lesson 3: Water
  • Lesson 4: pH and Buffers

Unit 2: Energy

  • Lesson 1: Energy Reactions
  • Lesson 2: Thermodynamics
  • Lesson 3: Cellular Phosphorylations and Electron Transport
  • Lesson 4: Energy Efficiency
  • Lesson 5: Metabolic Controls

Unit 3: Structure and Function

  • Lesson 1: Proteins
  • Lesson 2: Nucleic Acids
  • Lesson 3: Carbohydrates
  • Lesson 4: Lipids
  • Lesson 5: Membranes and Transport
  • Lesson 6: Vitamins and Cofactors

Unit 4: Catalysis

  • Lesson 1: Activation Energy
  • Lesson 2: Enzyme Catalysis
  • Lesson 3: Enzyme Kinetics
  • Lesson 4: Enzyme Inhibition
  • Lesson 5: Control of Enzymes

Unit 5: Flow of Genetic Information

  • Lesson 1: DNA Replication
  • Lesson 2: DNA Repair
  • Lesson 3: Transcription
  • Lesson 4: Regulation of Transcription
  • Lesson 5: RNA Processing
  • Lesson 6: Translation

Unit 6: Metabolism I

  • Lesson 1: Overview of Metabolic Concepts
  • Lesson 2: Glycolysis, Fermentation, and Gluconeogenesis
  • Lesson 3: Citric Acid and Glyoxylate Cycles
  • Lesson 4: Acetyl-CoA and Cholesterol Metabolism
  • Lesson 5: Ketone Bodies
  • Lesson 6: Fatty Acid Oxidation and Synthesis

Unit 7: Metabolism II

  • Lesson 1: Carbohydrate Storage and Breakdown
  • Lesson 2: Pentose Phosphate Pathway
  • Lesson 3: Calvin Cycle
  • Lesson 4: Urea Cycle
  • Lesson 5: Nitrogen Fixation
  • Lesson 6: Amino Acid Metabolism and Catabolism
  • Lesson 7: Nucleotide Metabolism and de novo Biosynthesis

Unit 8: Signaling

  • Lesson 1: Cell Signaling
  • Lesson 2: Ligand-gated Ion Channel Receptors
  • Lesson 3: Nuclear Hormone Receptors
  • Lesson 4: G-protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs)
  • Lesson 5: Receptor Tyrosine Kinases (RTKs)

Unit 9: Biochemical Techniques

  • Lesson 1: Cell Disruption and Fractionation
  • Lesson 2: Chromatography
  • Lesson 3: Electrophoresis
  • Lesson 4: Blotting
  • Lesson 5: DNA Techniques

Unit 10: Synthesis of Concepts in Biochemistry

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to

  • describe the organization of a eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell.
  • explain the synthesis of proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates and their role in metabolic pathways.
  • describe the function of vitamins and cofactors, and provide examples of each group.
  • use graphical techniques to analyze and describe simple, unimolecular enzyme activities.
  • explain the chemical differences between DNA and RNA.
  • describe nucleic acid structures, replication, transcription and translation.
  • explain the major differences and similarities between the synthesis of DNA and that of RNA.
  • describe how eukaryotic protein synthesis is controlled.
  • apply the genetic code to translate mRNA sequences into (protein) amino acid sequences.


To receive credit for CHEM 301, the student must achieve a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent) and a grade of at least D (50 percent) on each of the assignments and examinations. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 20%
Midterm Exam 25%
Assignment 2 20%
Final Exam 35%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

All materials for this course are accessed online.


Biochemistry Free and Easy Version 3.0, ©2012, 2013, by Dr. Kevin Ahern & Dr. Indira Rajagopal / All rights reserved, Oregon State University.

Other materials

Course materials include a course orientation, study guide, student manual, and assignments.

Special Course Features

Students will have access to electronic communication, additional biochemistry online resources, and access to the AU Landing for discussion, study buddy activities, and additional online resources.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the CHEM 301 challenge registration, you must achieve an overall grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination.

Paper Exam

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Image Credits:

  • By Ben Mills [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Opened in Revision 6, February 13, 2017

View previous syllabus