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CHEM103 Introduction to Chemistry

Unit rationale, description and aim

The science of chemistry is the foundation upon which many innovations in industry and breakthroughs in scientific research arise. To progress towards a career as a biomedical professional, students require a sound background in the basic chemical concepts that are covered in this unit.

This unit introduces the foundation principles of chemistry which are essential for the further study of the chemical, biological and environmental sciences. Topics taught include atomic structure, the elements, molecules, compounds, chemical bonding, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, chemical equilibrium, acids, bases, pH, buffers and radioactivity.. Students will also develop laboratory skills through a comprehensive practical component.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe key chemical concepts associated with matter, its structure, interactions and classification (GA4, GA5) 

LO2 - Demonstrate proficiency in writing chemical formulae and chemical reactions (GA4, GA5) 

LO3 - Recognise the influence of chemistry in biological and environmental context (GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8) 

LO4 - Demonstrate practical chemistry skills and perform relevant laboratory tasks safely and effectively (GA7, GA8) 

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • Matter and measurement 
  • Atomic structure and periodic table 
  • Bonding, structure and properties 
  • Chemical reactions and stoichiometry 
  • Chemical equilibrium 
  • Solutions 
  • Acids and bases 
  • Radioactivity 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Practical and tutorial sessions use active, small-group and cooperative learning tasks where students work together on a given project. The success of the individual depends on the success of the group and so students must work as part of a collaborative and well-functioning team.  

Lecture sessions aim to support students in inquiry-based learning in which they answer authentic, chemistry-based questions (with answers and feedback) provided in the text book, the tutorials and as part of the practical report assignment.   

These strategies have been chosen to best promote individual and group learning for students who have either some or no previous chemistry education and so require a high-level of support and guidance from teaching staff.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment tasks within this unit are criterion-referenced which means the teaching staff set certain standards of achievement (criteria) in advance and the performance of each student is evaluated according to those criteria. The criteria for each assessment item are based around the unit learning outcomes.  

There are practical-based and exam-based assessment tasks within this unit. The weekly practical sessions are designed to keep students up-to-date with their learning. . These classes require students to record, analyse and complete laboratory workbook entries relating to their experimental work. As part of the practical assessment, each student will conduct a skills based task to demonstrate practical knowledge of common laboratory techniques and subsequent interpretation of experimental results. The task provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate competence in critical thinking and problem-solving, common laboratory techniques and laboratory etiquette, recording of measurements, and evaluation of experimental results.

The mid-semester quizzes and final exam judge the student’s engagement with the theoretical content presented within this unit. Students will be supported with weekly tutorial sessions and a list of end-of-chapter questions from the prescribed textbook. Students will also have the ability to freely communicate with each other and the lecturing staff to help clarify any content that is unclear. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Bridging Course (Hurdle) 

To ensure the students have sufficient basic chemistry understanding to commence the unit  


LO1, LO4 

GA 4, 5, 7, 8 

Semester Quizzes (S) 

The bi-weekly semester quizzes are short tests to assess unit content periodically through the semester. Feedback is provided quickly, allowing students to gauge their progress, and to seek assistance if they wish. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 

Practical Assessments (S) 

The practical assessment allows students an opportunity to display their growing understanding, especially of the practical classes they have participated in. 



GA 7, 8 

Written Examination (2 hrs) (S) 

The final exam assesses material from all content areas. Having been provided with feedback from the earlier assessments, students are now able to address misunderstandings and conceptual difficulties identified from these earlier tasks and show that they have now met these learning objectives. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4  

GA 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 

Representative texts and references

Bettelheim, F. A., Brown, W.H., Campbell, M. K., Farrell, S., and Torres, O.J., (2019) ‘Introduction to General, Organic and Biochemistry’ (12th ed) Boston: Thomson Brook/Cole Publishers  

Blackman A.B., Bottle S., Schmid S., Mocerino M and Wille U. (2018) ‘Chemistry’ (4th ed.), Milton: John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd 

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’ (14th ed.) New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc 

Kotz, J.C., Treichel P.M. and Townsend J.R. (2012) ‘Chemistry and Chemical Reactivity’ (10th ed.), Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning 

Zumdahl, S.S. and DeCoste, D. (2015) ‘Introductory Chemistry: a Foundation’ (9thed.), California: Cengage Learning, Inc. 

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