Molecules and Energetics 1

Module aims

This module aims to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the chemistry and materials science principles related to Bioengineering including:

The main functional groups in organic molecules, their roles in building more complex structures and functionalising surfaces.

The main techniques for identifying and characterising engineered molecules

The foundations of classical thermodynamics and applications in biomedical engineering and molecular sciences

Chemical kinetics, Fick's laws and steady state diffusion

This module also aims to build the wet lab skills of students including:

Preparing a range of biomaterials and practice with the main techniques used for classifying such materials

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module you will be able to:

1 - Describe the formal framework of classical thermodynamics, the laws of thermodynamics and Fick's laws of diffusion

2 - Formulate and solve thermodynamic equations exploiting calculus including partial and total differentials and their properties.

3 - Explain how thermodynamic and chemical kinetics concepts can be applied to problems in biomedical engineering

4 - Use fundamental concepts of chemical kinetics to derive simple rate laws and relate these to experimental data.

5 - Recognise and name the main functional groups and predict their reactivity

6 - Describe simple reaction mechanisms (breaking and forming covalent bonds) and propose strategies to build complex macromolecules

7 - Explain the theory behind some of the main techniques for characterising molecules, demonstrate the application of the techniques in a safe and effective manor and interpret analytical data

8 - Distinguish valid measurements from mistakes, and explain error estimation and be able to make accurate measurements

Module syllabus

This module will cover the following topics:



Energy, heat, and work, their units and sign conventions and including examples of the role of thermodynamics in biomedical engineering.

The laws of thermodynamics, and the energy laws.

Heat capacity, Enthalpy and Entropy.

Free energy equations, Pressure/temperature dependence and chemical potential.

Molecular Forces and Motion


Different types of solutions and intermolecular forces.

Gas solubility laws, Empirical rate laws and experimental approaches to their determination.

Kinetics and Diffusion.



Organic molecules and functional groups.

Macromolecules / biomaterials.



Teaching methods

Students will be taught over three terms using a combination of lectures, labs and study groups. Lecture sessions will be made available online or on Panopto for review and supplemented with technologies to promote active engagement during the lecture such as 'learning catalytics'. Study groups will be based on taught content from lectures to reinforce these topics and allow students to test their understanding. Labs will teach wet lab skills based on the theoretical concepts covered in lectures and study groups.


The module will be assessed by two written exams and a lab portfolio. 

Reading list