Chemistry of Life


To supply the bases to an adequate understanding of the importance of chemistry in the life phenomenon.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Pedro António de Brito Tavares


Weekly - 4

Total - 57

Teaching language



There are no previous request


Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences
Peter Atkins, R. George Ratcliffe, Mark Wormald, and Julio de Paula
Oxford university Press, Third Edition, 2023 (ISBN 9780198830108)

Biological Inorganic Chemistry. A New Introduction to Molecular Structure and Function
Robert R. Crichton
Elsevier, Third Edition, 2018 (ISBN 9780128117415)

Os elementos químicos e a vida
J. J. R. Fraústo da Silva, José Armando L. da Silva
IST press, 1ª Edição, 2011 (ISBN 9789728469986)

Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry
David L. Nelson; Michael M. Cox
Macmillan learning, Eighth Edition, 2021 (ISBN 9781319228002)

- Materiais pedagógicos e artigos selecionados utilizados nas aulas e disponibilizados na documentação de apoio.

Teaching method

Theoretical-practical teaching with classroom lessons addressing theoretical concepts and application exercises.

Practical teaching with laboratory sessions focused on protocols designed to match subjects taught (laboratory work is planned for small teams of students).

Support materials (multimedia material, supporting texts, links to videos, protocols, etc.) available on the Clip platform.

Evaluation method

The final grade is calculated according to the following formula:

                           Final Grade = 0.75 x T + 0.25 P

Students will pass the course unit with a grade greater than or equal to 9.5 values.

Attendance (frequency):

1. Mandatory attendance of the 4 practical laboratory sessions

  • The student''''s punctuality, the preparation of laboratory classes, and the execution of the experimental work, will contribute to obtaining the frequency

2. Attendance of 70% of theoretical-practical classes (only for 1st enrollment students)

Theoretical grade (T):

1. Continuous assessment by 3 tests

2. Assessment by final exam

  • To pass the subject, the theoretical grade must be greater than or equal to 8.0.

Practical grade (P):

1. Handing over of experimental results and questionnare for each pratical session (Q)

2. Report (R, topic to be announced in the beggining of each teaching semester)  

P = 0,40 Q + 0,60 R

  • No minimum grade is required for the practical component.

Important notes:

  • The scores for all assessment elements will be rounded to the nearest tenth; the grades of each component will enter the final classification formula also rounded to the nearest tenth.
  • Students who have not passed the continuous assessment are admitted to the final exam. In the exam, only the T component is evaluated. To be successful, the classification in this exam must be equal to or greater than 8.0.
  • Improvement of the final grade is performed on the final exam and only on the T component.

In any case, the UC regent reserves the right to carry out an oral exam, for final approval, to any student enrolled in the course.

Subject matter

1. Chemical elements of life
1.1. Matter, elements and atoms
1.2. Isotopes
1.3. Ions
1.4. Chemical bonds and compounds
1.5. Bond energy
1.6. Molecular interactions

2. Water
2.1. Molecular properties of water
2.2. Water as a solvent
2.3. Concept of pH
2.4. Acid-base equilibrium
2.4.1. Strong species
2.4.2. Weak species
2.4.3. Polyprotic species
2.4.4. Buffer solutions
2.5. Water in biologic reactions

3. Selection of chemical elements
3.1. Abundance vs availability
3.2. Solubility in water
3.2.1. Solubility equilibrium
3.3. Oxidation-reduction reactions
3.3.1. Oxidation-reduction equilibrium
3.3.2. Standard and formal potentials
3.3.3. Electrochemical series
3.3.4. Nernst equation

4. Essentiality and functions of chemical elements
4.1. Essential elements
4.2. Relative quantities
4.3. Chemical functions
4.4. Toxicity
4.4.1. Radicals and oxidative stress

5. Biological molecules
5.1. Small molecules
5.2. Macromolecule precursors
5.3. Macromolecules

6. Notions of Bioinorganic Chemistry
6.1. Coordination compounds
6.2. Crystal field theory
6.3. Stability of coordination compounds

7. Enzymes and metallic elements
7.1. Types of metalloenzymes
7.2. Enzyme catalysis
7.3. Molecular mechanisms




Programs where the course is taught: