Department Learning Goals


Biochemistry lies at the interface of chemistry and biology, a diffuse and ever changing junction. A student of this reductionist way of evaluating our natural world must master multiple disciplines and approaches to understand this interface. The Bowdoin Biochemistry curriculum provides the tools and the chemical and biological fundamentals needed to evaluate and explain observed phenomena. Students will understand the basic chemistry of molecules that form the basis of life, including nucleic acids, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates. How these molecules combine to form the flow of information within and between cells and species, and from generation to generation, is fundamental.  Students start by learning principles of chemistry and biology as underpinned by mathematics and physics, and move on to mid-level courses that combine these concepts and apply them to the understanding of biochemistry. These courses also provide more advanced approaches for solving biochemical problems through experimentation.  Subsequent upper level courses continue to explore the basis of energy and information flow in chemical and biological systems, and critically analyze structure and complex biochemical interactions that form the basis of life.

Download the Biochemistry Core Competencies map.

Fundamental Learning Goals

A. Knowledge competencies:

  1. Master the foundational concepts of general and organic chemistry, including equilibrium, kinetics, and reactivity, and apply these concepts to biological systems

  2. Identify the factors that determine the three dimensional structures of biological macromolecules and the organization of cells

  3. Evaluate how the structure of biological macromolecules relates to function, and predict how changes in structure will impact function

  4. Develop a conceptual, mechanistic, and mathematical understanding of biomolecular interactions, including binding and catalysis

  5. Explain how energy is stored, transformed, and harnessed in biological systems

  6. Understand how information is stored, retrieved, and transmitted in biological systems

B. Skill-based competencies

  1. Solve complex data-based problems

  2. Critically evaluate the primary literature

  3. Independently propose and design experiments and approaches to address questions in biochemistry 

  4. Safely perform laboratory-based experiments

  5. Effectively communicate scientific information in oral, written, and visual formats to specialized and general audiences

  6. Interpret and critically analyze data, while appropriately invoking the principles of probability and statistics

  7. Understand and apply theoretical, conceptual, and empirical models