University of Otago, New Zealand


Te Tari Hua-Ruanuku

CHEM191 - The Chemical Basis of Biology and Human Health


CHEM 191 is a 18-point paper available in the first semester and also at summer school.

NOTE: CHEM191 is also available at summer school only for students who have passed their internal assessment in the Semester One CHEM191 course but failed the paper overall. For more information on taking CHEM191 at summer school please check the summer school website.

It provides an introduction to concepts influencing chemical reactions in biological systems including

There are four lectures each week and one three-hour laboratory class every two weeks. 

Recommended preparation

It is recommended that students enrolling in CHEM191 have a minimum of 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 Chemistry (or equivalent).

If you do not have 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 Chemistry or equivalent it is recommended that you enrol in the Introductory and CHEM150 Chemistry Courses.

Lecture times and venue

Semester 1 (for students taking DTEC102) Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8:00 am  (St David Lecture Theatre)

Semester 1 (for students not taking DTEC and not majoring in Chemistry) Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8:00am or 1:00 pm or 3:00 pm (room allocation will be noted on PIMS at the beginning of the semester)

Lecture material is available via Blackboard 

Laboratories times and venue

Semester 1 (for students taking DTEC102) Wednesday 2:00 pm

Semester 1 (for students not taking DTEC102 and not majoring in Chemistry) Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday at 9.00 am or 2.00 pm.

(Fortnightly in First-Year Chemistry Labs, Science I)


The terms requirement for CHEM191 is satisfactory attendance and performance in the laboratory course and terms test.

One three-hour written examination at the end of the semester (70%)
Laboratory exit tests (15%)
One one-hour terms test (15%)

Expectations at the completion of the course

Apply an understanding of chemical structures and processes to biological systems

Write chemical equations to describe reactions

Use knowledge of chemical bonding and reaction mechanisms to predict and rationalise the outcome of chemical reactions

Use mathematical procedures to analyse data and solve chemistry problems

Safely use appropriate apparatus to carry out chemistry reactions in the laboratory

Graduate Attributes

Interdisciplinary perspective, lifelong learning, communication


Chemistry: The Central Science - Brown, LeMay, Bursten, Murphy, Woodward, Langford, Sagatys & George

Students can purchase either the physical book, with access to MasteringChemistry (ISBN-13: 9781486042463)
An electronic version the text, readable on computers and tablets. Two versions of this are available:

Prices for these options are yet to be confirmed. Check with the University Bookshop, 03 477 6976

Note that the textbook is Highly Recommended for CHEM191 and CHEM111, but not Essential. You are not required to have a copy of the book but it will be referred to in lectures.

Teaching Staff

Prof Lyall Hanton, Assoc Prof James Crowley, Dr David McMorran, Dr Kimberly Hageman, Dr Dave Warren, Prof Dave Larsen, Dr Eng Tan, Dr Alan Hayman, Dr Allan Carne, Dr Craig Marshall, Dr Allan Gamble, Dr Andrea Vernall, Prof Warren Tate. 

Course Coordinator

Dr David A. McMorran
Dr David A. McMorran
Tel: +64  3  479 7934
Location: Science II, Gc2