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BB2460 Biocatalysis 7.5 credits

Course memo Spring 2021-1

Version 2 – 01/11/2021, 7:06:49 PM

Course offering

Spring 2021-1 (Start date 18/01/2021, English)

Language Of Instruction


Offered By

CBH/Industrial Biotechnology

Course memo Spring 2021-1

Course presentation

Biocatalysis is about replacing chemical production methods with bio-based, where the goal is to achieve greater environmental sustainability. The course is about enzyme technology and how enzymes can be adapted and used in industrial processes for production of chemical products like fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and other important refined products new to Nature. 

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

Fine chemicals, kinetic resolution & enzyme enantioselectivity, enzyme reaction mechanisms, Biocatalysis using hydrolases, oxidoreductases, lyases, transferases, isomerases och ligases, enzymes in organic solvents, enzyme engineering strategies, Biocatalysis in the pharmaceutical industry.


Intended learning outcomes

After passing the course, the student should:

  • Be able to exploit and apply knowledge from basic biotechnology and chemistry courses to design environmentally sustainable enzymatic processes for industrial production of chemical products.
  • Be able to distinguish reaction mechanisms of enzymes from the different main classes and be able to decide which chemical reactions that enzymes from a certain class can exhibit.
  • Be able to explain and exemplify different enzyme-catalyzed processes for stereoselective chemical production.  For example, kinetic resolution, dynamic kinetic resolution, and stereoselective synthesis, and also be able to suggest strategies for optimization.
  • Recognize advantages and disadvantages of different reaction media for enzymatic reactions and be able to decide suitable reaction conditions in individual cases.
  • Be aware of the Swedish and foreign industry which uses enzymatic processes and be able to exemplify products and types of enzymes used.
  • Be able to incorporate research literature and be familiar with the search tools for electronic databases which are available at KTH.

Learning activities

The course contains lectures, tutorials and a laboratory research project. Each lecture normally consist of pre-recorded presentations followed by a scheduled web meeting on Zoom where the lecture is discussed. The pre-recorded lecture has to be watched before the web meeting. The tutorials consist of meetings on Zoom where tasks are solved in groups and exercises are submitted according to the instructions provided in Canvas. The Research Project are planned and carried out according to a number of deadlines thrughout the course.

Detailed plan

Learning activities Content Preparations
Lecture 1 Registration & Introduction Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Lecture 2 Fine Chemicals Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Tutorial 1 Research Project Planning Read instructions in Module 4
Lecture 3 Kinetic Resolution & Enantioselectivity Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Tutorial 2 Enzyme Enantioselectivity Exercise Read instructions in Module 1
Lecture 4 Enzyme Mechanisms Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Tutorial 3 Enzyme Reaction Mechanism Exercise Read instructions in Module 1
Lecture 5 Hydrolases Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Lecture 6 Oxidoreductases Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Tutorial 4 Research Project Final Planning Read instructions in Module 4
Lecture 7 Transferases, Lyases, Isomerases & Ligases Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Lecture 8 Organic Solvents & Water Activity Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Lab (5 half days) Execute Research Project Detailed planning and risk analysis
Lecture 9 Enzyme Engineering Strategies Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Lecture 10 Immobilisation & Biocatalysis at a company Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Lectuere 11 Cascade Biocatalysis Pre-recorded material, articles and slides.
Seminars Research Project Presentations Prepare slides and draw conclusions from lab work
Lecture 12 Course Summary & Instructions for the Home Exam Prepare questions.
Exam Home Exam  

Schema VT-2021-55

Preparations before course start

Recommended prerequisites

Passed biotechnology courses at basic level, organic chemistry at basic level, and eligibility to study at the advanced level.


The compulsory course literature consist of a few scientific review articles selected for each of the lectures in the course. These articles can be found through links provided for each lecture in Canvas. No compulsory text book is used but there are several optional books:

  • Kurt Faber. Biotransformations in Organic Chemistry:  A Textbook, 7th Edition. Springer-Verlag:  Heidelberg. 2018. e-ISBN 978-3-319-61590-5. Available as e-book through the KTH Library.
  • Andreas Liese, Karsten Seelbach, Christian Wandrey (Eds.). Industrial Biotransformations. 2nd ed. Wiley-VCH. 2006. e-ISBN: 9783527608188. DOI: 10.1002/3527608184. Available as e-book through the KTH Library.
  • Bommarius & Riebel, Biocatalysis - Fundamentals and Applications, Wiley-VCH 2004. e-ISBN: 9783527602360. Available as e-book through the KTH Library.
  • Silverman, R. B. The Organic Chemistry of Enzyme-Catalyzed Reactions, Academic Press. 2002. ISBN 978-0-08-051336-2. Available as e-book through the KTH Library.
  • Peter Grunwald, BIOCATALYSIS - Biochemical Fundamentals and Applications, Imperial College Press 2009. ISBN 978-1-86094-771-1 (used as course text book 2012)
  • Adrie J. J. Straathof, Patrick Adlercreutz (Eds.) Applied biocatalysis. 2nd Taylor & Francis 2000

Support for students with disabilities

Students at KTH with a permanent disability can get support during studies from Funka:

Funka - compensatory support for students with disabilities

Please inform the course coordinator if you need compensatory support during the course. Present a certificate from Funka.

Examination and completion

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • LAB1 - Laboratory work, 1.5 credits, Grading scale: P, F
  • TEN1 - Written exam, 4.5 credits, Grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • ÖVN1 - Exercises and seminarium, 1.5 credits, Grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

(Section below is not part of the syllabus)

Laboratory work ( LAB1 )

This part is assessed with pass/fail. Efficient use of the lab time and shown knowledge of safety and good team work are requirements for the grade pass.

Written exam ( TEN1 )

The majority of the learning outcomes of the course will be assessed through a home exam. This will consist of several tasks and the work to fulfill all tasks is expected to take about one week to complete. 

Exercises and seminarium ( ÖVN1 )

This part will be assessed based on the submitted assignments and the planning of the research project. This part is graded A-F and the grade will primarily be based on:

  • Your ability to plan the research project. You should come up with your own ideas based on literature research and your final lab plan should include all the necessary details.
  • Your ability to document the work in the lab journal.
  • Your ability to interpret your results, draw conclusions and identify potential sources of error.
  • Your ability to meet all the deadlines and hand in assignments on time.
  • Your oral presentation.

Please note that often things don't go according to plan in a research lab. This is part of the course and is a valuable experience. Therefore, getting the expected result in the lab is not necessary to get a high grade. The important thing is the process, how well you plan, perform, analyze, evaluate and present your experiments.

Other requirements for final grade

The requirement for a final grade is grade E or above on TEN1 and ÖVN1 and grade P on LAB1.

The final grade will be calculated from 75% based on the written examination and 25% based on the grade on the project assignment. If the written examination gave an F then the final grade is F independently of the grade of the project assignment. The grade on the project assignment can increase the final grade one step, not more.

The grade on the project assignment will not give a final grade lower than the grade on the written examination.

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Changes of the course before this course offering

Home exam

A written exam in a classroom environment is not possible for master-level courses at KTH due to the pandemic. Also, the final assessment can be more of a learning experience for the students at the same time as the learning outcomes of the course are assessed. Therefore, a home exam has been implemented from 2021. This is something students on previous corse evaluations have expressed a wish for.

Flipped classroom

The course is given online for the first time in 2021. The pedagogic model has therefore been improved and a flipped classroom approach will be used for most of the lectures, where students have to prepare prior to a scheduled lecture meeting by watching pre-recorded material. 

Revised Canvas Structure

The course material has been re-organized on Canvas for clarity. The course is now divided into four modules. 

Communication With Teachers

Course Coordinator



Other Contacts

Round Facts

Offered By

CBH/Industrial Biotechnology

Language Of Instruction


Course offering

Spring 2021-1 (Start date 18/01/2021, English)


Communication With Teachers

We communicate continuously during the course through the forum in Canvas. This is where you as student post questions and where the teachers will reply. It is good for everyone in the course to see questions and answers. 

Course Coordinator



Other Contacts