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Unit information: Introductory Chemistry in 2017/18

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Unit name Introductory Chemistry
Unit code CHEM10003
Credit points 40
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Chris Russell
Open unit status Not open

A-Level Chemistry or its equivalent; A-Level Mathematics or its equivalent



School/department School of Chemistry
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit introduces and explores key fundamental themes used throughout chemistry. It aims to do so in a qualitative way to focus on the broad ideas and implications. Key ideas include orbitals, energy, quantisation and bonding, why reactions happen, shapes of molecules, mechanisms, rates of reaction and measurements. It then develops in the area of synthesis and reactivity - key themes include reactions and synthesis using carbonyl compounds, the chemistry of carbon-carbon double bonds, basic reactions and functional groups, reactivity in transition metal chemistry and stereochemistry. It will also develop themes in the areas of main group chemistry, spectroscopy and thermodynamics where key topics include periodicity, solid-state chemistry, quantum mechanics, vibrational and rotational spectroscopy, forces and supramolecular interactions.

This unit aims to introduce students to fundamental ideas in chemistry which will be developed throughout their studies. The implications of these fundamental ideas are illustrated with real world examples to set them in context and highlight their relevance in the modern scientific world. The content provides a foundation for students going on to take chemistry in the second year.

Units aims:

To provide students with a broad and balanced appreciation of key chemical concepts

To provide students with an appreciation of key reactions and key concepts in physical, organic and inorganic chemistry

Intended learning outcomes

  • Explain energy quantization, energy levels, and their connection to spectra
  • Discuss quantum numbers of electrons in an atom
  • Predict the shape of covalently bonded molecules, and name (systematic and trivial) functional groups and organic molecules
  • Predict the geometry, name and draw the isomers of organic and inorganic complexes
  • Define the terms electrophile, nucleophile, acid and base and an explain their roles within a reaction
  • Use curly arrow representation to indicate electron flow and therefore mechanism
  • Discuss the relationship between structures and spectra
  • Recognise the limitations/extent of information obtained from each spectroscopic method (both qualitative and/or quantitative)
  • Explain functional group interconversions
  • Recognise the carbonyl functional groups
  • Explain the reactivity and relative reactivity of carbonyl functional groups
  • Predict the product, or non-reaction, of carbonyl compounds
  • Recognise reactions which are redox in nature
  • Explain the electronic structure of octahedral metal complexes and the influences of ligands
  • Differentiate between conformation and configuration
  • Recognise periodicity and its implications to structure and bonding
  • Describe lattices and the structure of solids
  • Discuss the Schrodinger equation, wavefunctions and quantization
  • Explain spectroscopy as transition between states: Rotational and vibrational states
  • Explain non-bonded interactions and compare them to conventional bonding
  • Importance of non-bonded interactions in gases, liquids and large molecules
  • Discuss entropy and its relation to spontaneous change
  • Explain the formation of chemical equilibria and phase behaviour
  • Recognise the interrelationship between all branches of chemistry and between theory and applications

Teaching details

Lectures, small group tutorials, workshops and independent study. A small amount of pre-tutorial online material will be provided to assist students with tutorial work. Self test multiple choice questions.

Assessment Details

1-hour test (Multiple choice questions, computer based, 100% formative delivered in TB1) and Two 2-hour written exams in TB2 (100% summative).

Reading and References

Essential reading will be from the following books:

Atkins’ Physical Chemistry, 10th Edition, P W Atkins and J de Paula, Oxford University Press 2014.

Organic Chemistry, 2nd Edition, J Clayden, N Greeves, S Warren, Oxford University Press, 2012.

Inorganic Chemistry 6th Edition, M Weller, T Overton, J Rourke and F Armstrong, Oxford University Press 2014.

Further reading from Periodicity in the s- and p-block Elements, N C Norman, Oxford Primer, 1997.