Engineering Biology and Chemistry



Semester 1, 2019


Extra teaching assistants

TA: Renfei Ma
TA: Sina Sheikholeslami


Calendar notes

Introduction to chemical and biological systems. The application of engineering analysis and design techniques to facilitate understanding the multiscale structure, function and interactions of such systems. The use of case studies to illustrate systems approaches to chemistry and biology.

Further notes

This course is structured to teach the fundamental concepts that are required for analysing biological and chemical systems in an integrated and applied way. The course material is structured into two units: 1) Mass and 2) Energy balances and how these are applied to biological and chemical systems.

Why Biology and Chemistry?

An engineer requires a basic understanding of a wide area of knowledge, in order to work with a broad range of people from many backgrounds. The aim of this course is to give you, as an engineer, the basic tools that you will need to understand, analyse and solve chemical and biological problems from an engineering perspective. Pick up any newspaper and you will find articles on climate change, the energy crisis, genetic engineering, biodiversity, water quality – topics that are increasingly at the forefront of technology, engineering and policy, and that require a technical understanding in order to make informed decisions.

This course provides the fundamental skills required by a practicing engineer, and introduces you to some of the specialisations you may wish to pursue during your university career and beyond. The course is taught from fundamentals to application, to show how the fundamentals can be applied to a wide variety of chemical and biological problems. A systems view will be taken where the students are asked to define a system, on multiple scales, and investigate how the system behaves. The course aims for the students to be able to apply these fundamental skills to applications that are not covered in this course i.e. how they can solve a chemical or biological problem that they are unfamiliar with, as the problems all have the same underlying fundamental mass and energy conservation principles. Thus, the skills taught are transferrable to unknown future problems that the students will come across. The applications used are local and real world examples to highlight the possibilities of interdisciplinary engineering, ranging from the micro to the macro scale. By looking to chemistry and biology we can improve our design of products and processes and understand their impact on the environment.

There is a natural link between chemistry and engineering and it has long been a traditional part of engineering programmes. But chemistry also provides a link between engineering and biology. Understanding biological processes requires knowledge of chemistry and biochemistry, and implementation of engineering solutions often requires knowledge of chemical processes.

This course is taught using a coursebook with gaps that students are expected to fill in during lectures. For this reason, it is important that students attend lectures.

Announcements relevant to the course will be sent via Canvas, so it is important that students regularly check their university emails.

Students who have not taken chemistry before this course may find it useful to improve their knowledge of basic chemistry (e.g. moles) before starting the course.

Outcome mapping

Intended learning outcomes
Related graduate attributes
Related assessments

Units, Dimensions, Conversion Factors · Be able to convert between different units using conversion factors. · Be able to propagate units through a mathematical expression e.g. be able to add, subtract, multiply, divide and cancel out units correctly. · Determine the units of a variable in an expression when the units of the other variables are all defined. · Understand dimensional homogeneity.

ENGA01: engineering knowledge (2)
ENGA02: problem analysis (1)
ICHEME_A 2.2.: Fundamentals (0)
UOA_1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice (1)
Feedback Quiz 1
Mid Semester Test

Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter · Define what a ‘phase’ is and be able to interpret phase diagrams. · Understand the difference in solid, liquid and gas phase densities and how they are affected by temperature and pressure. · Use the ideal gas law to calculate the densities of gases at different temperatures and pressures. · Understand physical and chemical properties of matter including boiling and melting points, density, vapour pressure, partial pressure and concentration, surface tension, heat capacity, enthalpy of vaporisation · Explain how chemistry can affect physical and chemical properties of matter. · Define intensive and extensive properties, and be able to classify a physical or chemical property as intensive or extensive. Be able to convert between intensive and extensive properties where appropriate. Mass Balances · Identify system boundaries to create block diagrams of processes and systems. · Identify inputs and outputs on the diagram and classify known and unknown values. · Use block diagrams to correctly formulate mass balance problems. · Apply degrees of freedom analysis. · Use chemical and physical properties with the principle of the conservation of mass to solve biological and chemical systems for unknown values. · Interpret mass balance information to draw inferences about the system.

ENGA01: engineering knowledge (2)
ENGA02: problem analysis (1)
ENGA07: environment and sustainability (2)
ENGK01: theory of natural sciences (1)
ICHEME A 2.2.1: Material and energy balances (0)
ICHEME A2.2.2: Thermodynamics and transport (1)
ICHEME A2.2.4: Applying principles of equilibrium to phase behavior and systems. (0)
UOA_1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice (1)
UOA_2: Critical Thinking (2)
UOA_3: Solution Seeking (0)
Feedback Quiz 3
Feedback Quiz 5
Mid Semester Test

Introduction to Mass Transfer · Define mass transfer, convection and diffusion. · Classify different driving forces for mass transfer. · Apply Fick’s first law and mixed mechanism mass transfer to mass balance calculations of biological and chemical systems.

ENGA01: engineering knowledge (2)
ENGA02: problem analysis (1)
ENGK01: theory of natural sciences (1)
ICHEME A2.2.3: Momentum, heat and mass transfer (1)
ICHEME A2.7.1: Sustainability (1)
Feedback Quiz 4
Feedback Quiz 2
Mid Semester Test

Research Project - Develop appropriate topic vocabulary in order to search databases effectively - Find relevant literature given an engineering problem - Review literature critically - Write a clear and relevant report on a given topic explaining the context of the problem, effects of the problem and any solutions given in the literature. - Consider environmental and social effects of engineering problems - Reference literature to maintain academic integrity

ENGA01: engineering knowledge (2)
ENGA04: investigation (1)
ENGA06: engineering and society (0)
ENGA07: environment and sustainability (2)
ENGA10: communication (1)
ENGA12: lifelong learning (1)
ENGK04: specialist knowledge (1)
ENGK07: societal roles and obligations (2)
ENGK08: research literature (1)
ENGP04: familiarity of issues (1)
ICHEME A 5.2.2: Communication (2)
UOA_2: Critical Thinking (2)
UOA_5: Independence and Integrity (1)
UOA_6: Social and Environmental Responsiblities (1)
Research Skills Quiz
Research Project
Peer review

Energy - Understand the various forms of energy - Be aware of global and NZ energy consumption - Understand the planetary energy balance - Be able to convert between different units of work, heat, and energy - Understand the difference between base SI units and derived SI units - Derive correct SI units for force, energy, power and pressure - Perform a basic mechanical energy balance

ENGA01: engineering knowledge (2)
ENGA02: problem analysis (1)
ENGA07: environment and sustainability (2)
ENGK01: theory of natural sciences (1)
ICHEME A 2.2.1: Material and energy balances (0)
ICHEME A2.2.3: Momentum, heat and mass transfer (1)
ICHEME_A2.5.1: Principles of systems (0)
ICHEME A2.5.3: Systems dynamics (0)
ICHEME A2.7.1: Sustainability (1)
Feedback Quiz 6
Feedback Quiz 7
Feedback Quiz 8



Research Skills Resource Quiz - This is an online quiz based on the skills you will learn by completing weekly modules of the online Research Skills course. These skills will help you with the Research Project.

Research Project (including peer review) - you will have a choice of topic to research, and will need to write a report based on your research. You will need to include calculations based on data you find and provide these as part of the report. The Research Skills Course will help you to complete the Research Project. You will need to submit a draft report, and will review the reports of two other students once your draft is submitted. A checklist will be available to help you complete your report.

Feedback Quizzes - there are 8 quizzes, generally one per week except where another quiz or assignment is due. Each quiz is worth 1% and should help you to know if your learning is on track.

Mid Semester Test - this is based on material learned in the first half of Semester. In the case of illness or bereavement for the exam, aegrotat scores will be based on your results in this test.

Exam rules

The exam is 2 hours long and is worth 60% of your final grade. A formulae sheet is supplied. A restricted calculator policy is in place: no graphics calculators are allowed. Please read the FAQS section for more information.

For late assignment submissions, 10% of your assignment grade will be deducted for each day late up to a maximum of five days; assignments submitted more than 5 days late will not be graded (exceptions made for illness or bereavement - medical certificate is required for illness).

A 10% rule applies when calculating your final grade. Your performance in tests must be in line with your exam performance. To ensure this is the case, your combined mark is calculated and then compared against the mark calculated using only the the exam. Your combined mark cannot raise you by more than 10% above the mark calculated using only the tests. In case of illness or bereavement, aegrotat grades will be determined on the basis of your marks in the test only.

Final grades in this course will be determined using the standard University of Auckland grade boundaries. AFTER rounding your final mark to the nearest integer. Rounding is done using standard mathematical rounding rules, e.g. a mark of 89.50 would round up to 90 whereas a mark of 89.49 would round down to 89.

All mark queries must be lodged BEFORE the day of the final exam.

Inclusive learning

Students are urged to discuss privately any impairment-related requirements face-to-face and/or in written form with the course convenor/lecturer and/or tutor.

Other assessment rules

No description given

Academic integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting his or her learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the world-wide web. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against electronic source material using computerised detection mechanisms. Upon reasonable request, students may be required to provide an electronic version of their work for computerised review.

All students enrolled at the University of Auckland are required to complete a compulsory Academic Integrity course, usually in their first semester/year of enrolment. The University of Auckland’s full guidelines on procedures and penalties for academic dishonesty are available here.

This site intends to guide you through your chosen specialisation at the Faculty of Engineering. The semester links lets you view detailed course information for your chosen course. Please note that the structure displayed for your specialisation here will reflect what’s available over the upcoming semesters, but detailed information may be from a previous year.

All the information here is accurate at the time of publication, but you are are advised to additionally consult our official document, the University of Auckland Calendar, for accurate academic regulations, requirements, and policies.