Chemistry places a strong emphasis on an understanding of the structures and properties of atoms and molecules, and on using this understanding to interpret and predict the behaviour of matter. Many of the concepts of physics and the methods of mathematics are basic to chemistry. Chemistry is, in turn, of fundamental importance to many other subjects including astrophysics, biological sciences, environmental science, materials science, and medical sciences. These and other aspects of the subject are reflected in the courses offered and the programs recommended 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;
- 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, focusing 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 and Science, students do not enrol in a program of study until the end of their first year, or after completing four credits. However, it may be helpful to discuss a proposed program with a departmental advisor during the first year of study.
Chemistry offers a variety of programs some of which, although they concentrate mainly on chemistry, are covered in combination with other disciplines like biology, biochemistry, physics, environment and materials science. The specialist programs in these areas of study lead to a Hon BSc degree, and would be a good preparation for further studies in a graduate program.
Students who want to concentrate on chemistry but either less intensively than in a specialist program, or in conjunction with another topic, may consider enrolling in the 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 the chemistry major program.
Please click on the programs listed on the right or in our Undergraduate menu for course requirements and detailed descriptions.