Chemistry places a strong emphasis on an understanding of the structures and properties of atoms and molecules, and on using this understanding to predict and interpret the behaviour of matter. Many of the concepts of physics and the methods of mathematics are fundamental to chemistry. Chemistry is, in turn, of primary importance to many other subjects including astrophysics, geology, biological sciences, environmental science, materials science, pharmaceutical science and the medical sciences. These and other aspects of the subject are reflected in the courses and programs offered by the department. The different areas of chemistry that students will encounter in the course of their undergraduate studies are:
- Analytical chemistry, which is concerned with providing qualitative and quantitative information about the chemical and structural composition of matter;
- Biological chemistry, which focuses on the structure, reactivity and reaction mechanisms of molecules found in biological systems;
- Environmental chemistry, which includes natural substances and processes, as well as pollution problems that have a chemical basis;
- Inorganic chemistry, a very broad area examining the structure, reactivity and properties of all the elements;
- Organic chemistry, the study of organic molecules, including pharmaceuticals, natural products and organometallics, with a focus upon reactivity, synthesis, structure, function, mechanism and catalysis;
- Physical chemistry, which establishes and develops the principles that are used to explain and interpret the observations made in the other branches of chemistry;
- Polymer and materials chemistry, which is the study of new polymeric and solid state materials with interesting and potentially useful properties.
In the Faculty of Arts & Science, students do not enrol in a program of study until the end of their first year, or after completion of four full credits. However, it will be of great help to discuss a proposed program with a departmental advisor during the first year of study.
The Department of Chemistry offers a variety of specialist, major and minor undergraduate programs. Some of them are covered in combination with other academic disciplines including biology, biochemistry, physics, environmental studies and materials science. All of the six specialist programs (Biological Chemistry, Chemical Physics, Chemistry, Material Science, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Synthetic & Catalytic Chemistry) lead to a Honours BSc degree, and are excellent preparation for further studies in a graduate program.
Students who wish to concentrate on chemistry (either less intensively than in a specialist program, or in conjunction with another field of study) may consider enrolling in the Chemistry major or the Environmental Chemistry major program. Those students who want to study chemistry as part of their general education, or to supplement studies in another discipline, may enroll in one of the two minor programs (Chemistry or Environmental Chemistry).
In keeping with the Department of Chemistry being a signatory to the Green Chemistry Commitment, the practices and principles of green chemistry and sustainability are infused into a number of courses that are required within every chemistry undergraduate program, and students may enrol in a Focus in Green Chemistry as part of any specialist or major. Please click on the programs listed on the right for course requirements and detailed descriptions.