University of Sydney Handbooks - 2018 Archive

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Study in the discipline of Chemistry is offered by the School of Chemistry in the Faculty of Science. Units of study in this major are available at standard and advanced level.

About the major

A major in Chemistry will equip you with the knowledge and understanding of molecules and processes that underpin many of the most important aspects of the natural world and new technologies. Through a detailed explanation of chemical structure and change you will be guided through advanced concepts in areas such as photosynthesis, the molecules of life, green energy technologies, new materials and the molecular underpinnings of nanotechnology.

1000-level units of study aim to provide students with an understanding of the molecular basis of the physical properties of materials, the reasons chemical reactions occur and the energy changes involved. Units are offered at different levels depending on whether chemistry was studied at the HSC level or equivalent and the results obtained.

2000-level core units Molecular Reactivity & Spectroscopy and Chemical Structure & Stability provide the mainstream chemistry essential for students planning to major in chemistry and other chemical-related sciences. Elective units in Forensic and Environmental Chemistry and in the Chemistry of Biological Molecules are also available.

3000-level units allow students to specialise in particular areas of chemistry and cover such areas as: biomolecules; organic structure and reactivity; materials; catalysis and sustainable processes; metal complexes in medicines and materials; synthetic medicinal chemistry; membranes, self-assembly and surfaces; and molecular spectroscopy and quantum theory.

Requirements for completion

A major in Chemistry requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 24 credit points of 3000-level selective units, including 1 interdisciplinary unit and 1 project unit or 1 combined interdisciplinary and project unit

A minor in Chemistry is available and articulates to this major.

Pathway through the major

The requirements for a major in Chemistry are spread out over three years of the degree (possibly four years if students are completing a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree).

A sample pathway for the Chemistry major (over three years of a degree) is listed below.

Sample pathway: Chemistry major (48 credit points)



Units of study


Semester 1

Core: CHEM1XX1 Chemistry 1A

Semester 2

Core:  CHEM1XX2 Chemistry 1B


Semester 1

Core: CHEM2401/2911/2915 Molecular Reactivity and Spectroscopy

Semester 2

Core: CHEM2402/2912/2916 Chemical Structure and Stability


Semester 1

Selective: 3000-level units listed for major

Semester 2

Selective: 3000-level units listed for major


Please Note. This sample progression is meant as an example only. Depending on unit prerequisites, students may be able to complete these units in a different sequence from that displayed in the table above.

For details of the core and selective units of study required for the major or minor please refer to the Chemistry section of the unit of study table, Table S, in this handbook.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, which must include a minimum of 24 credit points in a single subject area at 4000 level, including a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Space is provided for 12 credit points towards the second major (if not already completed). 24 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2020.

Requirements for Honours in the area of Chemistry: completion of 36 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework.

Honours units of study will be available in 2020.

Contact and further information


T +61 2 9351 4504

School of Chemistry
Chemistry Building F11
University of Sydney NSW 2006
Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Chemistry will know:

  1. Both the concepts and language of organic, inorganic, physical and theoretical chemistry.
  2. How recent advances in our understanding of chemical processes contribute to our society and wellbeing (an example of Interdisciplinary Effectiveness).
  3. How the various analytical tools employed in the chemical laboratory lead us to an understanding of chemical structure and mechanism.
  4. The diverse themes and trends of chemical reactivity summarised by the Periodic Table.
  5. Important boundaries of what is known: where existing chemical knowledge meets areas of current academic and industrial research.

Students will be able to:

  1. Communicate complicated scientific concepts involving molecular structure and change through both written and oral means.
  2. Solve challenging problems in Chemistry by working individually and in teams, and through consultation of the scientific literature.
  3. Ask and answer scientific questions through experiment in the chemical laboratory.
  4. Analyse datasets and deploy skills in computing, numeracy and data handling to obtain answers to chemical questions.
  5. Critically evaluate diverse sources of chemical information and judge their relative significance.