Senior chemistry

Currently enrolled Senior Chemistry students should visit the School's e-learning site through MyUni for information concerning their units of study.

The School of Chemistry offers a choice of 6 credit point units of study to cater for the differing needs and interests of students. Each unit involves two lectures and the equivalent of four hours of lab each week (students taking one unit will spend 8 hours each week for 6 weeks in the lab). The objective of these units is to provide a flexible program in Chemistry with the aim of producing graduates in Chemistry with a broad understanding across the subject. Our units expose you to, and allow you to understand, some of the most up-to-date research in Chemistry worldwide. A student who graduates with a Chemistry major will be eligible to become a full member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

Students can elect to enrol in any number of units. Each unit is offered at the Advanced and non-Advanced levels. The Advanced unit code is given in brackets.

The syllabus for each unit can be obtained by clicking on the Unit of Study Title.

Unit Code Unit of Study Title Semester Credit Points
CHEM3110 (3910) Biomolecules: Properties & Reactions 1 6
CHEM3111 (3911) Organic Structure & Reactivity 1 6
CHEM3112 (3912) Materials Chemistry 1 6
CHEM3113 (3913) Catalysis & Sustainable Processes 1 6
CHEM3114 (3914) Metal Complexes: Medicine & Materials 2 6
CHEM3115 (3915) Synthetic Medicinal Chemistry 2 6
CHEM3116 (3916) Membranes, Self Assembly & Surfaces 2 6
CHEM3117 (3917) Molecular Spectroscopy & Quantum Theory 2 6

The prerequisites for the normal level units are CHEM(2401 or 2911 or 2915) and CHEM(2402 or 2912 or 2916). The prerequisites for the Advanced level units are a WAM of 65 or greater and a Credit or better in CHEM(2401 or 2911 or 2915) and CHEM(2402 or 2912 or 2916).

Advanced units of study

These units are designed to provide students with a good record in Chemistry the opportunity to be further challenged. The theory work is the same as the 'normal' units with the addition of an additional seminar series comprising one lecture a week, irrespective of the number of Advanced units taken. There are no formal end-of-semester exams for the Advanced seminars. Instead, students are examined by means of a take-home assignment. For more information on the program please visit here.

Practical work

The laboratory program is independent of the particular units of study taken. The Senior Chemistry laboratory provides training in the broad discipline areas of Inorganic, Organic and Physical/Theoretical Chemistry. Each unit of study requires the designated experimental work to be completed over a total of 48 hours of practical work per semester, fitted into 2 x 4-hour sessions held in the afternoons over six weeks.

The following table sets out the amount of practical classes required, depending on the number of units in which a student is enrolled:

No. Units/semester Total Hours/Semester No. Afternoons (4hrs)/week
1* 48* 2 for 6 weeks*
2 96 2 for 12 weeks
3 144 3 for 12 weeks
4 192 4 for 12 weeks

* Students enrolling in one unit per semester must see the Laboratory Director, Dr Chris McErlean prior to the first lab session.

The Senior Chemistry laboratory is located on Level 4 of the School of Chemistry building. It is open from 1 to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays.

The first semester is broken into two components: Introductory experiments (2 weeks) and core projects (2 × 5 weeks). The second semester is also broken into two components: core projects (5 weeks) and workshop projects (7 weeks). The core projects are designed to provide students with the skills and techniques required of a Chemistry graduate. The workshop projects are designed to introduce more advanced experimental techniques, instrumentation and theoretical analysis.

A student seeking a Chemistry major (i.e. 24 credit points of Senior Chemistry) must complete all of the laboratory components in both semesters. The core projects must be completed before a student may undertake the workshop projects, therefore students who commence their Senior Chemistry in second semester may have some restrictions on their practical schedule.

Further questions should be addressed to the Laboratory Director, Dr Chris McErlean at

The Laboratory Practices Online Lecture Series is compulsory for all Senior Chemistry students and must be completed in the first semester a student undertakes any Senior Chemistry unit. The course contains a general introduction to safety, discusses the reasons for concern over safety (the legal, commercial and moral obligations of employers and employees), and provides an introduction to risk and hazard analysis, recognition and limitation procedures. Students will also be introduced to the use, location and content of and information retrieval from safety databases. An overview of the actions and effects of chemical poisons, routes of toxic absorption and the easily observed effects of chemicals on human health is presented. The safe use, storage and disposal of chemicals and of radiation sources (chemicals and instrumentation) will be covered, together with the operating principles of spectrometers and vacuum equipment. The course is assessed by means of an online quiz.

Majors in nanoscience and in medicinal chemistry

Students intending to major in Nanoscience are advised to enrol in the units CHEM3112/3912 Materials Chemistry and CHEM3116/3916 Membranes, Self Assembly and Surfaces. Students intending to major in Medicinal Chemistry are advised to enrol in at least two of the following units: CHEM3110/3910 Biomolecules: Properties and Reactions; CHEM3114/3914 Metal Complexes: Medicine and Materials; or CHEM3115/3915 Synthetic Medicinal Chemistry.

Assessment in senior chemistry

student working in laboratory

The assessment criteria used by the School are designed to ensure and reward excellence in accordance with the aims and objectives of the units of study. More information can be found on the Senior Chemistry WebCT site.

The final mark for all units is based on the components for both Theory and Practical work, with the Theory component worth 66.7% and the Practical Component worth 33.3% of the final mark.

In general, the Theory component is assessed by a written examination at the end of the semester, although some units also include one or more assignments. Each student’s practical mark consists of the results for the one or more practical laboratories completed during the semester, weighted equally.

In order to pass a unit, students must satisfy all the following requirements:

  1. Obtain a Theory mark of 50% or greater;
  2. Obtain a final Practical mark of 50% or greater; and
  3. Obtain a mark of 50% or better for the overall combined Theory-Practical mark.

Advanced students please note: for the purposes of requirement 1, "Theory Mark" does not include Advanced assignments.

To achieve a result for an Advanced unit, students must achieve an average of 50 or better for their Advanced assignments. Advanced students who do not satisfy one or more of these requirements will receive a Fail grade for their final result.

Assessment in practical work

Performance in practical chemistry is assessed in a variety of ways. Performance in the laboratory itself is assessed by the quality and yield of the compound made, or by the accuracy of experimental results. Practical reports are submitted in all laboratories. Oral examinations are also used in some cases to test understanding of practical and theoretical aspects of the laboratory. The largest proportion of the laboratory marks come from the practical reports.

Want to know more?

If you have any queries, please email the School at or for telephone enquiries, please call +61 2 9351 4504.