Chemistry is the study of many different things around us, the study of how one substance changes into another, the relationship between the nature and the structure of molecules. Chemistry is also the study of how to obtain metals from ores, convert oil into plastics and develop cures for cancer.
Chemistry is often referred to as “the central science” since its successes feed into many different disciplines. Chemistry units at the University of Sydney are an integral part of a wide range of courses. In many cases the study of chemistry is a requirement of the course. You will find studying chemistry to be diverse, challenging and fascinating.
The School of Chemistry has a strong research base, with extensive links with the CSIRO and many of Australia’s leading pharmaceutical and chemical companies. The school also has an excellent record in teaching and offers many innovative features. There is also the optional Year in Industry program that involves spending one year during your course working in the chemical industry (at commercial rates of pay).
The School of Chemistry has posted a number of first-year lecture demonstrations on their First-Year Chemistry YouTube channel - take a look!
What do Chemists do?
The impact of chemistry on our lifestyles is all around us - medicines, smart engineering materials, improved computer displays, memory, batteries and chips, clean energy generation and forensic science technology. A knowledge of chemistry gives us an understanding of the things surrounding us and enables us to make a real contribution to the wellbeing and wealth of the wider community.
A recent survey conducted by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) showed 50% of chemists in Australia to be employed in industry, 24% in government laboratories, and 25% in universities or teaching.
The industrial sector includes such diverse areas as petrochemicals, food and drink, fertilisers, paper, heavy chemicals, iron and steel, organic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, polymers, computing and scientific journalism. Government laboratories include research institutions, forensic science, analytical laboratories and many statutory authorities.
What will you study?
Chemistry is essential for a deep understanding of many units and its study in first year is required or highly recommended for many of the courses associated with the Faculty of Science.
In your first year, junior chemistry offers you an integrated approach to learning about the composition of matter, the shapes of molecules, and the physical and chemical processes that occur in nature, with the emphasis on an understanding of the molecular basis of materials and transformations relevant to everyday experience, industry and medicine.
In your second year, in addition to core chemistry units, you can also take options in environmental and forensic chemistry and the chemistry of biological molecules.
In third year (senior) chemistry, you can choose from eight elective topics. Laboratory work is an important part of each year’s program.
If you choose to complete an honours year, you will work closely with, and undertake a project in, one of the research groups in the school of Chemistry. In addition, you will take part in a small amount of course work and participate in a seminar program.
Selected students are invited to participate in advanced chemistry units. Advanced programs provide you with a challenging educational environment and allow you to pursue your own special areas of interest. Entrance is very competitive.
Graduates are eligible for graduate membership of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI).
The School of Chemistry offers both Master of Science and PhD courses by research. These programs involve undertaking a substantial research project.