Chemistry for the Biosciences: The Essential Concepts (3rd edition)

Jonathan Crowe; Tony Bradshaw
Pub date
Jan 2014
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  • Focuses on the key chemical concepts which students of the biosciences need to understand, making the scope of the book directly relevant to the target audience.
  • A conversational style and everyday analogies are used throughout, to help students relate unfamiliar concepts to situations and experiences that they are familiar with, and hence boost confidence in learning and understanding the subject.
  • Opportunities for problem-solving, both in the book and online, encourage the reader to master key concepts and develop important numerical and data-handling skills.
  • The assumption of limited prior knowledge makes it an ideal 'leveller', suitable for students with a range of backgrounds.
  • Rich pedagogy makes learning as effective as possible: cross references encourage readers to make connections between different aspects of a broad subject; key points reinforce the messages that readers should grasp having read the text; marginal comments and footnotes provide extra clarifications; checklists of key concepts act as a useful revision tool; boxes throughout provide a deeper exploration of biological examples.
  • Maths support is provided via the Maths Tool feature, going into detail about mathematical skills and concepts used in the text to enable students to supplement their mathematical knowledge.

New to this Edition:

  • New Chemical Toolkits explore some of the key skills and tools essential to understanding chemistry, and complement the existing Maths Tools.
  • A new chapter, Metals in Biology, reviews the importance of metal ions in biological systems, to complement the coverage of organic compounds in other chapters.
  • Enhanced and extended coverage of chemical reactions, including increased coverage of redox reactions and electrode potentials, and more emphasis on the carbonyl group and nucleophilic attack, and the reactions of carbonyl -containing compounds.
  • Earlier introduction of ionization energy.
  • Increased coverage of hydrogen bonding, resonance theory and enthalpy changes.
  • Coverage of the mole and concentration is brought forward to chapter 5, giving students earlier exposure to these central concepts.
  • Coverage of the structure of biological molecules now integrated into Chapter 10, Biological Macromolecules.
  • Coverage of chemical reactions is brought forward to chapters 12 and 13, putting this topic back at the heart of the book.
  • Coverage of electronegativity is brought earlier in chapter 3 as a lead into ionic and covalent bonding.
  • The overview of hydrocarbons has been reorganized to make the discussion more comparative, and to highlight common features.
  • New problem-solving questions, available via the book's ORC, help students to develop their data-handling skills.
  • A greater number of self-check questions provide students with more opportunities for active learning while reading each chapter.
  • Video screencasts online walk readers through a selection of examples and calculations to help them master key numerical and data-handling skills.

Chemistry enables our eyes to detect the world around us; it determines whether something tastes sweet or sour; it helps genetic information pass accurately from one generation to the next. Ultimately, chemistry powers life itself. We don't need to dig very deep to answer the question: why do biologists need chemistry? 
Building on the success of the first two editions, Chemistry for the Biosciences introduces students to all the chemistry they need to understand the biological world. Renowned for its clear and straightforward explanations, the book uses everyday examples and analogies throughout to help students get to grips with chemical concepts, and presents them in context of biological systems wherever possible so they can see how chemistry relates to their wider studies. 
With topics drawn from organic, physical and inorganic chemistry, students will encounter a broad range of essential concepts to master. Chemistry for the Biosciences includes many learning features - both in print and online - to help students grasp these concepts as quickly and thoroughly as possible. From the self-check questions throughout each chapter to help consolidate learning, to the Chemical Toolkits and Maths Tools that help students explore terminology, methods, and numerical skills that may be unfamiliar, the book is written to be a true course companion for students on biological and biomedical science degrees - one that will help them not only remember the essentials, but really understand them, setting students up for success in their later studies. ​


1: Introduction: why biologists need chemistry
2: Atoms: the foundations of life
3: Compounds and chemical bonding: bringing atoms together
4: Molecular interactions: holding it all together
5: Moles, concentrations, and dilutions: making sense of chemical numbers
6: Organic compounds 1: hydrocarbons as the framework of life
7: Organic compounds 2: adding function to the framework of life
8: Molecular shape and structure: life in three dimensions
13: Isomerism: generating chemical variety
10: Biological macromolecules: providing life's infrastructure
11: Metals in biology: life beyond carbon
12: Chemical reactions 1: bringing molecules to life
13: Chemical reactions 2: reaction mechanisms driving the chemistry of life
14: Energy: what makes reactions go?
15: Equilibria: how far do reactions go?
16: Kinetics: what affects the speed of a reaction?
17: Acids, bases, and buffer solutions: life in an aqueous environment
18: Chemical analysis: characterizing chemical compounds

About the author: 

Jonathan Crowe, Oxford, UK, and Tony Bradshaw, Principal Lecturer, York St John University
Jonathan Crowe is a science publisher and science writer based in Oxford, UK. A biochemist by background, Jonathan has extensive experience of making science accessible to a broad audience both through his science writing and science editing. As well as writing Chemistry for the Biosciences, he is also Deputy Editor of the digital science publication, Guru Magazine.
Tony Bradshaw is Project Manager for Biomedical Science at York St John University and lectures in chemistry, biochemistry and the molecular biology of cancer at Oxford Brookes University. Prior to this he has worked at the University of Warwick, researching as a member of the Interferon Group, and at the Shell Toxicology Research Laboratory in Sittingbourne, working on mechanisms of chemical carcinogenesis. In recent years he has developed a new and very popular degree course in Biomedical Sciences at Oxford Brookes.

Review from previous edition 
This book is the best of its kind on the market; Crowe and Bradshaw is superbly written, makes great use of analogy, and maintains good biological focus.' - James McEvoy, Lecturer in Biological Chemistry, Royal Holloway, University of London

'Excellent in coverage and depth, with a clear and engaging structure.' - Paul Hagan, Teaching Fellow, University of Ulster

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