PCC-12803 General Chemistry for the Life Sciences


Credits 3.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Course coordinator(s)dr. CW Hoogendam
Lecturer(s)dr. CW Hoogendam
dr. LH Beun
dr. RJ de Vries
dr. ir. JM Kleijn
Examiner(s)dr. CW Hoogendam

Language of instruction:



Living organisms have a remarkable capacity to regulate physiologically the inner environment. Electrolyte levels, pH-levels, redox potentials are all kept within certain limits to ensure internal stability. Several organs including the liver, the kidneys, and the nervous and endocrine systems help maintain homeostasis by triggering biochemical and physical-chemical mechanisms. In this course we will focus on the general chemical or (physical-chemical) mechanisms on a molecular level that are involved in the Life Sciences. These mechanisms include energy exchange, Gibbs free energy as driving force, molecular interactions, various types of equilibrium, buffer systems, ATP-coupling and reaction kinetics. Some of these mechanisms are interpreted from the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- use laws of thermodynamics in processes occurring in living organisms;
- explain and identify various types of (chemical) bonds in (bio)chemical molecules;
- calculate the equilibrium constant of a (bio)chemical reaction, use the Gibbs energy in relation to the direction of a process;
- calculate the pH and buffer capacity of acids, bases and mixtures of these;
- understand and identify zero-, first- and second-order reactions;
- apply Michaelis Menten kinetics;
- calculate (physical) chemical properties and classify (physical) chemical units and dimensions;
- execute experiments in the domain of general and physical chemistry following a given protocol and analyse these experiments.


- participation in tutorials;
- participation in practicals;
- independent study.


- Written exam with multiple choice questions.
All practicals need to be completed successfully (go/no go). Interim results are valid for six years.


Crowe, J.; Bradshaw, T. (2014). Chemistry for the biosciences: the essential concepts. Third edition. Oxford University Press. 740p. ISBN:978-0-19-966288-3.
Practical manual. Both are available from the WUR-shop.

Compulsory for: BBIBiologyBSc2AF
BASAnimal SciencesBSc1MO
BPWPlant SciencesBSc1AF
BATBiosystems EngineeringBSc1MO
BVGNutrition and HealthBSc4MO