Sample courses

A chemistry degree involves training in all of the major branches of chemistry. First-year courses are an intensive introduction to the field. In the second year, we teach the four traditional areas of specialization in chemistry. After second year, your studies become increasingly concentrated in one of these four areas:

  • Inorganic chemistry, dealing with all the chemical elements except carbon.
  • Organic chemistry, the study of compounds containing carbon.
  • Analytical chemistry, determining the composition of substances and detecting of elements.
  • Physical chemistry, assessing the physical properties of matter and how it can be transformed.

Through courses and labs, students acquire a range of skills, from organizing large bodies of information, to quantitative analytical skills. You'll learn to describe your work clearly, both orally and in writing. You learn to generate data reliably, assess your results and to compare them critically to results from other laboratories.

CHEM 1011
Concepts in Chemistry

Concepts in Chemistry is an innovative approach to the teaching of first-year chemistry that has been developed and implemented by the entire Department of Chemistry at Dalhousie. Now in its third year, the program is comprised of several elements: two custom texts, one for each term; lectures; on-line graded assignments; vignettes (on-line video tutorials); drop-in tutorials (the Concept Room) and laboratories.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.
Exclusions: Credit will be given for only one of the following combinations: CHEM 1011.03/1012.03 or CHEM 1021.03/1022.03 or DISP (SCIE 15XX)

CHEM 2201
Introductory Analytical Chemistry


This class focuses on instrumental methods for chemical analysis. The main components of the instruments, their function, and relevant applications related to mass spectrometry, gas and liquid chromatography, absorbance and fluorescence spectroscopy, electrochemistry, and electrophoresis are introduced. Calibration methods, detection limits, error propagation, and statistical methods are also generally described. The classical methods of analysis (titrations), and the systematic treatment of chemical equilibrium (acid/base chemistry) are briefly discussed, though focus is on the more modern instrumental approaches. Laboratory components provide practical experience in working with the instrumental methods described in this class. A strong emphasis is placed on the development of problem solving skills, both mathematical and in written form.


Prerequisites: CHEM 1011.03/1012.03 or equivalent (grade of C- or better)

CHEM 2301
Introductory Physical Chemistry

The physical principles underlying chemical systems and reactivity are explored, with an emphasis on the forces between molecules and the properties of matter. Principles of thermodynamics are presented, including thermochemistry, entropy and free-energy relationships. Applications include phase equilibria, chemical equilibria, solutions, colligative properties and electrochemistry.

Prerequisites: CHEM 1011.03/CHEM 1012.03 or equivalent; MATH 1000.03 or equivalent (grade of C- or better). PHYC 1280.03/ PHYC 1290.03 or PHYC 1300.06 is strongly recommended

CHEM 2488
Our Organic World

Pharmaceuticals, plastics, and some fuels are organic compounds with dramatic roles in our health and economy. Drugs or poisons? Caraway or spearmint? Bendable or stiff? Aspects of organic chemistry are surveyed so that issues such as these can be debated and the chemical facts applied to the world around us. CHEM 2488 does not satisfy a full-year organic chemistry requirement, and is not a core chemistry class. This class is designed as an elective.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

Inside the classroom

First year Chemistry: CHEM 1011

Our faculty wrote a textbook, Concepts in Chemistry, that sits at the core of this unique program designed to help new students adjust to the challenges of university-level scientific study. Read more about our first-year program.

“The amount of support that students got, it’s incredible. I found that book amazing. It was exactly what I needed. Staff and professors were always there when you needed them,” says fourth year student Maneesha Rajora.