Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Biomolecular Interactions CHEM5078

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Chemistry
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course will cover the fundamental driving forces that govern how molecules interact with each other, such as hydrogen bonding, aromatic interactions, and hydrophobic interactions. In each case examples will be discussed in both simplified model systems, and in real-world biomolecular cases.


This course will run for four weeks in Semester 1. Content will be delivered through six one-hour lectures, a one-hour tutorial and a three-hour workshop.

Requirements of Entry

Available to students enrolled in the MSc in Chemical Biology

Excluded Courses



One exam on the lectured content (50 %).

Additionally, students will write a short (ca 2000 word) 'case study' report on one of a predefined set of biological systems, describing a known crystal structure (with associated biophysical data) and critically analysing the interactions present therein (50 %).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

To gain a broad understanding of the inter- and intra-molecular forces that govern the interactions observed in biological systems. To understand in detail phenomena such as hydrogen bonding and aromatic interactions. To understand the energetic consequences of these interactions in biomacromolecule structure and ligand binding. To gain an understanding of how potential for these interactions can be designed into small molecules as probes for biological systems.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Critically appraise the main classes of intermolecular interactions.

2. Critically evaluate cooperativity in chemical and biological systems

1. Critically review chemical equilibria and potentials within biological systems

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.