Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


This course examines the key features of the rational design of new medicinal agents and of the importance of close links between the biological and chemical sciences.

The basic principles of synthetic and structural chemistry are applied to the evaluation of biologically active molecules from hit discovery through to delivery and clinical use. A range of key drug types are explored including aromatics, carbohydrates, metal-based drugs, natural products and biopharmaceuticals.

The course is delivered in three 4-week modules (Weeks 1-4, 5-8 and 9-12) linked to a lab project and module assessment.



  • Semester 2 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Describe the methods chemists use for identifying and screening drug leads;

2. Identify and explain key features in drugs that make them appropriate therapeutics;

3. Describe the key pathways by which naturally occurring therapeutics are synthesised by plants and animals;

4. Compare and contrast the modes of action of different classes of drugs;

5. Describe and assess strategies to improve drug delivery;

6. Critically evaluate the scientific literature as applied to pharmaceuticals;

7. Apply organic chemistry techniques to synthesise, isolate and characterise drugs and drug-like molecules and report findings;

8. Work safely and competently in an organic chemistry laboratory setting.


1. Lead ('hit') discovery

  • Sources of leads
  • Key features required for biological activity
  • Structure based design, isosteres

2. Introduction to chemical complexity in drug discovery

  • Carbohydrate based drugs (chemistry and biology)
  • Metal-based and semi-metal based drugs
  • Factors influencing drug-ability

3. Biopharmaceuticals

  • Secondary metabolites and biosynthesis of natural therapeutics
  • Protein, antibody and RNA based drugs
  • Enhancing drug delivery with nanomaterials


Students must have successfully completed CHEM2310 or CHEM2201 to be enrolled in this course.

Assumed knowledge

CHEM2110 Applied Analytical Chemistry.

Assessment items

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Laboratory Exercises and Reports *

In Term Test: In Term Tests *

* This assessment has a compulsory requirement.

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Laboratory: There is a compulsory attendance requirement in this course. - Students must attend all scheduled laboratory sessions.
  • Laboratory: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions.

Course Assessment Requirements:

  • Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Attempt / Submission Requirement - Students must attempt/submit this assessment item to pass the course.
  • Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course. - Students must submit all reports and obtain an overall mark of at least 50% to pass the course.
  • In Term Test: Minimum Grade / Mark Requirement - Students must obtain a specified minimum grade / mark in this assessment item to pass the course. - Students must obtain a mark of at least 40% in each test to pass this course.

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 15 hour(s) per Term Full Term

Tutorials will commence in week 2. In weeks 5, 9 and 13, there will be a 2 hour In-term Test.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.