Chemistry Curriculum

Our students must complete seven contracts, three Independent Study Projects and a senior thesis project to graduate. Contracts consist of three to five academic activities — courses, tutorials, internships, independent reading projects, etc. — that will develop your personal educational goals during a semester.

Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Chemistry:

General Chemistry I
This is the first course in a two-semester general chemistry sequence that is intended for first-year students and designed for all science students interested in chemistry-related fields. Students are expected to complete General Chemistry I and II and Organic Chemistry I and II and their respective labs to satisfy the two years of chemistry required by many graduate and medical school programs. This semester will cover atoms, atomic structure, stoichiometry, and bonding.

General Chemistry II
This course is a continuation of General Chemistry I. Topics this semester will include thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, equilibrium, acid-base chemistry and electrochemistry.

General Chemistry Laboratory
This is a rigorous laboratory course to accompany General Chemistry. Development of laboratory technique, problem-solving skills, quantitative data analysis and communication skills will be stressed. Experimental work will include calorimetry, chemical equilibrium, acid-base chemistry, spectroscopy, and kinetics.

Organic I, Structure & Reactivity
This is the first course of a two-semester sequence in Organic Chemistry and covers the core of how the chemical structure of organic compounds relates to chemical reactivity. We review fundamental chemistry concepts and then use basic principles to predict the reactivity of organic compounds. Our purpose is to understand how and why reactions occur rather than memorizing a large vocabulary of reactions. We will emphasize recognition of structural similarities and grouping by like processes so that the student achieves a coherent understanding of the basis of chemical reactivity. The course covers substitution, elimination and electrophilic addition processes.

Organic II, Structure & Reactivity
This course continues the theme of how chemical structure relates to reactivity of organic compounds. The first part is the reactions of carbonyl compounds and carboxylic acid derivatives. The second part covers radical reactions, sugars, amino acids, and macromolecular chemistry.

Organic Chemistry Laboratory
This laboratory explores the preparation and characterization of organic compounds. We will also study a reaction in detail to explore the reaction mechanism. All students will have direct access to most research instrumentation.

Inorganic Chemistry
In this course the entire periodic table is our domain. We begin with atomic theory and electronic structure, periodic properties, molecular orbital theory, symmetry, and applications of group theory. Next, we will turn our attention to the main group elements. Topics include structure and bonding of molecular compounds, metals, and ionic solids. The chemical reactivities of the various groups and the individual elements of the periodic table will be related to periodic trends. In the final section of the course we focus on the colorful topic of transition metal chemistry including bonding, thermodynamics and kinetics of complex formation and ligand substitution. Required for a concentration in chemistry.

Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory
This laboratory course will provide experience and training in aspects of inorganic synthesis, reactivity, and characterization, especially of transition metal complexes. Required for a concentration in chemistry.

Physical Chemistry: Quantum Mechanics
This course will provide an in-depth look at atomic and molecular structure.  The course will begin with the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and move from there to discuss underlying physical principles of chemical bonding and molecular spectroscopy.  The course will also have an extensive computational chemistry component and will include an overview of current topics in experimental physical chemistry.
Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics of Biomolecular Systems
This course will cover key concepts of thermodynamics and kinetics, illustrated by their application to the structure, function, and interactions of large molecules of biological interest.  The applications covered will include enzyme kinetics, electrophoresis, consideration of free energy and surface tension as applied to biological membranes, and many others.  This course satisfies the one-semester Physical Chemistry class requirement for the Biochemistry AOC. 
Physical Chemistry Laboratory
Students will perform a variety of physical chemistry and kinetics measurements.  The emphasis of the course will be on modern instrumental methods and data analysis using sophisticated mathematical software.  Students will be exposed to many techniques, including IR and UV-Vis spectroscopy, spectrofluorimetry, calorimetry, and surface tensiometry.
Biochemistry I, Protein Structure and Function
This course will be an in-depth study of protein and nucleic acid structure, function, and regulation. The focus of the class will be on molecular mechanisms of protein function. Mechanisms of human diseases will also be discussed. The last two weeks of the course will include advanced topics chosen by the students themselves.

Biochemistry II, Metabolism and Advanced Topics
This course will be a continuation of Biochemistry I. We will cover advanced topics including sugar, amino acid, lipid, and nucleotide metabolism as well as eukaryotic mechanisms for transcription regulation. The last two weeks of the course will include advanced topics chosen by the students themselves.

Biochemistry Laboratory
This class will allow students to get experience using a variety of modern techniques in biochemistry and molecular biology. Experimental design, laboratory methods, and data analysis will be emphasized. Students will learn to do protein purifications, enzyme essays, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), restriction enzyme digestions, DNA ligation and transformation of E. coli. Students will do a research project during the course.

Bioinorganic Chemistry
The functions of inorganic centers in biological systems will be examined. Why certain metals are involved in specific functions, mechanisms of metalloenzyme-catalyzed reactions, synthetic structural and functional models, and physical methods used to study bioinorganic systems, are some of the topics we will discuss. Additionally, we will examine in some depth several specific problems in bioinorganic chemistry. Using this approach, course participants will gain substantial practice in reading the primary literature, and will experience the way in which research on a particular problem unfolds.

Chemistry and Society
In this course students learn concepts that form the foundation of knowledge common to all chemists, within the context of society and the environment. The one-semester course is designed for general interest students and is also recommended for natural sciences and premedical students who are shown to need additional background in chemistry prior to taking General Chemistry. It is particularly relevant for Environmental Studies students. In this course, no prior knowledge of chemistry is assumed. Topics include atomic and molecular structure, bonding, reactivity, chemical equilibrium, properties of gases, liquids, and solids, fossil fuels, acid rain, global warming, and the ozone layer.

Chemistry Inquiry Laboratory
This laboratory focuses on purification of compounds and the determination of chemical structure by spectroscopic methods. The lab emphasizes group work and collaboration.

Environmental Chemistry
This course is an introduction to environmental chemistry and covers material about the chemistry of the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the lithosphere. Specific topics will include ozone depletion, acid rain, and the chemistry of aerosols and of colloids and surfaces. These topics will be investigated quantitatively using models and methods developed in the General Chemistry sequence, including acid-base equilibria, kinetics, and thermodynamics.

Molecular Biology
This course will cover various advanced topics in molecular biology. The focus will be on transcription regulation and on methods used in molecular biology. We will discuss methods such as in vitro transcription, reverse transcription, PCR, site-directed mutagenesis, and cloning. A lab component will be included in the course.

For detailed requirements, check out our General Catalog and the Chemistry Academic Learning Compact.

For a complete list of courses, click here.

[Did you know?]

A survey of alumni who graduated between 1996 and 2007 revealed that 86 percent of New College chemistry and biochemistry majors who applied to graduate or medical school were accepted.

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