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Molecules of Life (MOL)


Admission requirements

Elective course MSc Chemistry and MSc Life Science and Technology.

For students with basic knowledge of organic chemistry (BSc in Chemistry, Molecular Science and Technology, Life Science and Technology or a related discipline).


This course evolves around the synthesis of the naturally occurring biopolymers: carbohydrates, peptides, nucleic acids and hybrids thereof. These biopolymers play vital roles in life as we know it, and the course will teach how we can assemble well-defined fragments of these and apply these to answer biological questions and in therapeutic agents. Protecting group methodology and coupling strategies will be presented. Recent articles on these subjects will be discussed.

Course objectives

After the course the student should be able to:

  • Know the name, structure, one letter code of all proteinogenic amino acids;

  • Be able to design a chemoselective protecting group scheme for all amino acids;

  • Know the most common peptide coupling reagents;

  • Design a synthesis for a small peptide sequence;

  • Understand conformational behavior of carbohydrates;

  • Understand the reactivity of the different functional groups on a carbohydrate;

  • Be able to design a protecting group scheme to site-selectively mask the functional groups in a carbohydrate building block;

  • Understand the basics of glycosylation chemistry and factors influencing the stereochemical outcome of glycosylation chemistry;

  • Design a synthesis route for a (simple) oligosaccharide;

  • Understand phosphorous (III and V) chemistry;

  • Understand modern DNA and RNA chemistry;

  • Be able to design a route of synthesis for an oligonucleotide;

  • Combine peptide/carbohydrate and nucleic acid chemistry to synthesize hybrid structures.


Schedule information can be found on the website of the programmes.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of problem-solving sessions, rather than formal lectures. In weekly sessions, the structure and reactivity of organic compounds are discussed. Students prepare for these sessions by studying selected chapters from Organic Chemistry textbooks, as well as selected relevant papers from the literature.

Assessment method

Written exam (“closed book”)

Reading list

Handouts and papers from current literature.
Amino Acid & Peptide Synthesis, John Jones, 2nd edition, ISBN: 9780199257386


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Jeroen Codee Dima Filippov


This biennial course will be given in 2023-24. The course is scheduled again for academic year 2025-26.

According to OER article 4.8, students are entitled to view their marked examination for a period of 30 days following the publication of the results of a written examination. Students should contact the lecturer to make an appointment for such an inspection session.