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CHEM105 Foundations of Chemistry

Unit rationale, description and aim

Chemical reactions underpin almost every type of natural and manmade processes in our modern world. Building on content in Foundations of Chemistry, this unit introduces specific physical chemistry and organic chemistry concepts that underlie the scientific principles which govern chemical, biochemical, environmental and industrial processes. Physical chemistry topics of the unit include electrochemistry, energy utilisation, spontaneity and kinetics of reactions. Under organic chemistry, the major classes of organic compounds, stereoisomerism, and the mechanisms of common organic reaction processes are examined. These concepts are explored with a strong emphasis on real life processes. This unit will also allow students to develop further competence in laboratory techniques developed in Foundations of Chemistry, with emphasis on the areas of physical and organic chemistry.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Apply concepts and principles associated with chemical energy, chemical kinetics and electron transfer reactionsGC1, GC2, GC7
LO2Predict the behaviour of chemical systems under varied conditions and develop an understanding of importance of thermodynamics in physical chemistry;GC1, GC2, GC7
LO3Describe the structure of organic compounds and associated organic chemistry reaction mechanisms according to the functional groups they possessGC1, GC2, GC7
LO4Understand the isomerism of organic compounds and it is importance in biological world and medicinal contextGC1, GC2, GC7
LO5Demonstrate competence in the practical skills and techniques used in physical and organic chemistry and analysis of experimental resultsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8


Topics will include: 

  • Energy and chemical reactions  
  • Entropy and free energy  
  • Chemical kinetics  
  • Electrochemistry  
  • Hydrocarbons  
  • Conjugation, aromaticity and reactions of aromatic compounds 
  • Chemical structure and reactions between organic compounds with different functional groups  
  • Stereoisomerism 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit fosters student-centred active learning and accommodates diverse student needs. Several different inquiry-based learning and teaching strategies are employed, via a combination of self-paced, online learning and real-time classes, assisting students to gain essential knowledge towards understanding the principles governing a variety of chemical processes.

The practical and tutorial classes reinforce key concepts first introduced in online sessions and offer students a more intimate opportunity to engage with the material. Group-based activities in practical sessions also provide an opportunity for students to build their collaborative and teamwork skills.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment tasks have been designed to assist students to reach their learning objectives in a stepwise fashion, so they are encouraged to work consistently through semester. There are both exam-based and practical-based assessment tasks within this unit.

Written tests during the semester assess different aspects of the course content, in line with learning objectives, and help prepare students for the final exam. Students are provided with quick feedback, and extra assistance is available if needed. 

Laboratory-based activities offer students an opportunity to improve their skills and knowledge of data collection and analysis, critical thinking, and increase their competence in scientific report writing. This requires students to record, analyse and complete laboratory workbook entries for their experimental work. Laboratory assessment tasks will appraise students’ laboratory technique, data collection and evaluation skills. 

Examination for this unit consists of both multiple-choice and short-answer questions evaluating students’ knowledge and understanding of all the content covered in lectures, tutorials and practical classes throughout the semester.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1 Mid semester tests (S) 

These assess students’ knowledge and understanding of material covered in lectures and tutorials in chosen topics.

20% (10% + 10%)

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Assessment Task 2 Laboratory based assessment (S)

The laboratory -based assessment evaluates students’ data collection, processing and evaluation skills, knowledge and understanding of concepts relevant to lab activities.



Assessment Task 3 Examination (2x1hr) (S)

One examination will be conducted mid-semester and assess early content. A second exam held at the end of semester will judge students’ engagement with the theoretical content in the second half of the semester.

50% (25% + 25%)

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Bettelheim, F. A., Brown, W.H. Campbell M. K., Farrell S., and Torres O.J.,(2013) Introduction to Organic and Biochemistry (8th Edition) Thomson Brook/Cole Publishers 

Brown T.L., LeMay H.E., Burston B.E., Murphy C., Woodward P., Langford S., Sagatys D. and George A. (2013) ‘Chemistry: The Central Science’ (3rd edition), Pearson Education, Inc, NJ 

Engel T., Drobny G. and Reid P (2008) 'Physical chemistry for the Life Sciences', Pearson Education International, Prentice Hall. 

Kotz, J.C., Treichel P.M. and Townsend J.R. (2012) ‘Chemistry and Chemical Reactivity’ (8th edition), Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning 

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