University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 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) 18 credit points of 3000-level selective units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level interdisciplinary project units

A minor in Chemistry requires 36 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 12 credit points of 3000-level selective units

First year

1000-level Chemistry is offered in two halves, Chemistry 1A (CHEM1XX1), which should be taken first, and Chemistry 1B (CHEM1XX2). Each of these is offered at four levels (Fundamentals, mainstream, Advanced, and the Special Studies Program) to suit the background and interests of students.

These units underpin the Chemistry major and will provide a solid understanding of chemical structure and reactivity. A fundamental understanding of molecules and their behaviour is also required in a wide range of other majors, from medicine to nanotechnology.

Second year

Students in 2000-level Chemistry will take one unit of core chemistry in each semester from CHEM2401/2911/2915 and CHEM2402/2912/2916. These units cover an extension of the skills and knowledge acquired in 1000-level Chemistry and provide the broad base for further specialisation in 3000-level Chemistry. Additionally, students can take elective units that examine the key chemical processes occurring in all living systems (CHEM2403) and provide a fundamental understanding of chemical analysis (CHEM2404).

Third year

24 credit points from a selection of eight available units of study. The flexibility in third year allows students to tailor their studies to their scientific interests.

In your third year you will take at least one designated project unit and you will have the chance to explore new aspects of Chemistry in both a disciplinary and an interdisciplinary context through project and practical work.

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, with a minimum of 24 credit points at 4000-level or above. Of these 24 credit points, you must complete a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Advanced coursework will be included in the table for 2020.

Meritorious students in the Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies may apply for admission to Honours within a subject area of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies. Admission to Honours requires the prior completion of all requirements of the Bachelor of Science, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units. If you are considering applying for admission to Honours, ensure your degree planning takes into account the completion of a second major and all OLE requirements prior to Honours commencement.

Unit of study 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 be able to:

  1. Exhibit a broad and coherent body of knowledge in organic, inorganic, physical and theoretical chemistry and integrate conceptual knowledge across subdisciplines.
  2. Apply an integrated knowledge of the importance of chemical processes to our society and well-being across varied social and cultural contexts.
  3. Evaluate how the various analytical tools employed in the chemical laboratory lead to an understanding of chemical structure and mechanisms.
  4. Deploy skills in computing, numeracy and data handling to analyse experimental outcomes and obtain answers to chemical questions.
  5. Collect, collate, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a range of sources to critically analyse chemical concepts and issues.
  6. Communicate concepts and findings in chemistry through a range of modes for a variety of purposes and audiences and respond to challenges using evidence.
  7. Evaluate developments in chemical knowledge and their relevance to current academic and industrial research.
  8. Design, plan, carry out and refine a chemistry experiment, investigation or project.
  9. Work effectively, reflectively and respectfully both as individuals and in teams in the laboratory.
  10. Address authentic problems in chemistry, working professionally and responsibly within collaborative, diverse, interdisciplinary teams.