Selecting a Course

The requirement of completing 20 full credits from the enormous number listed in the Faculty of Arts & Science Calendar may appear challenging. Relatively few students begin their first year with a clear idea of which program(s) of study they will eventually follow, yet each one must choose courses that keep open a number of options from which a choice must be made in second year. Much thought and careful planning must go into selection of first year courses, so that students do not find themselves excluded from desirable programs in later years.

Useful starting points are the sections in the Faculty of Arts & Science Calendar on Programs of Study that precede each department's listing of courses. Glance through these and see which of the many programs might be of interest. Then list the first-year requirements for these programs and find out what range of choice is available by taking a particular collection of first year courses. Consider carefully the level of the first-year courses that might be taken. Generally, the higher numbered courses in a particular subject will be more suitable for further work in that subject, or may serve as more useful prerequisites for later year courses.

For all the specialist programs and the major program sponsored by the Department of Chemistry, the strongly recommended first year chemistry course is CHM151Y. The chemistry program descriptions also list other requirements such as first year BIO, PHY and MAT courses. However, students who take CHM (135H + 136H) are by no means excluded from Chemistry's programs. Students are encouraged to discuss any concerns, doubts or misunderstandings with departmental advisors as early as possible and as often as necessary.

Whatever program of study is eventually chosen, it is highly advisable to follow the yearly sequence of courses that is prescribed where possible. Delaying courses from one year to another may mean that there is less adequate background preparation for work in other areas, and will almost certainly result in complex timetable difficulties.


CHM151Y  (Chemistry: The Molecular Science)

CHM151Y is the course for students who are likely to specialize in chemistry or a field related to chemistry. If the B.Sc. program that appeals to you includes several chemistry courses at the second and higher years (all specialist and major programs), then CHM151Y is the course in which you should enrol. This course will fulfill the first-year chemistry requirement for other programs and for admission to other faculties. The seven specialist programs which the Chemistry Department sponsors, and for which a substantial number of chemistry courses are needed, are: Chemistry, Chemical Physics, Materials Chemistry, Biological Chemistry, Synthetic & Catalytic Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry. It is also possible to enrol in a Chemistry major program, a Chemistry minor program, an Environmental Chemistry minor program and a Nanoscience minor program (in collaboration with the National University of Singapore). You will find a complete list of programs that lead to a B.Sc. degree in the Faculty of Arts & Science calendar. Students who enrol in CHM151Y are additionally expected to concurrently take both a first-year mathematics course and a first-year physics course.


CHM135H (Chemistry: Physical Principles) and CHM136H (Introductory Organic Chemistry I)

The combination of CHM135H with CHM136H is recommended for students who intend to take many of the biologically-oriented programs in the Life or Health Sciences (e.g. Human Biology, Immunology), which do not require a large amount of chemistry. It is also the most appropriate course for students applying for entry into professional programs. As of September 2020, CHM135H is a prerequisite for CHM136H, meaning that the two courses must be taken in order.

Together with these two half-courses, a first-year mathematics course and a first-year physics course are recommended co-requisites. Please understand, however, that some higher-level CHM courses have MAT/PHY pre-requisites.