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General Chemistry


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: Dr Paul King
  • Assessment: three 90-minute multiple-choice tests (10% each) and two homework tests (20% and 50%)

Module description

This is the first module in a two-module sequence at Level 4 designed to develop your knowledge and understanding of the foundational chemical principles required by biomedical scientists and molecular biologists. It focuses on general chemistry, with coverage including: atomic structure; chemical bonding; chemical reactions; gases and liquids; solutions; and chemical equilibria (especially relating to acid-base chemistry).

Indicative syllabus

  • Elements and the periodic table
  • The structure of atoms
  • Chemical compounds and bonding
  • Chemical reactions: types of reaction and reaction energetics
  • Gases
  • Liquids and solutions
  • Chemical equilibria: acids and bases
  • Chemical kinetics

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • define the term element and write chemical symbols for elements
  • explain the arrangement of elements in the periodic table
  • describe the structure of atoms in terms of composition and location of the fundamental particles
  • rationalise the electronic configurations of atoms in the periodic table and relate these to the properties of atoms
  • determine the relative atomic mass of an element from the composition of its isotopes
  • differentiate between ionic and covalent bonding

  • predict the three-dimensional structure of molecules using VSEPR theory

  • list the types of intermolecular forces between molecules, and predict their occurrence and effect on properties
  • write balanced chemical equations
  • identify different types of chemical reaction
  • define the processes of oxidation and reduction, and assign oxidation numbers to atoms in compounds

  • define the term mole and perform calculations to determine molar quantities of substances
  • calculate the various energy changes which accompany chemical reactions and explain these
  • use the gas laws to understand the behaviour of gases and calculate their properties under different physical conditions
  • explain the behaviour of liquids as solvents, particularly water
  • predict the solubility of salts based upon their cations and anions
  • calculate concentrations of solutes in solution and express concentration in alternative ways
  • discuss the colligative properties of solutions
  • discuss the kinetics of simple chemical reactions and understand the rate law
  • explain the meaning of chemical equilibrium, and write expressions for equilibrium constants
  • use Le Chatelier’s principle to predict the effect of pressure, temperature and concentration on equilibria
  • calculate [H+] from pH, and vice versa
  • write an expression for the acid dissociation constant (Ka) of an acid, and distinguish between a strong and a weak acid
  • sketch titration curves for strong and weak acids and bases and explain the key features of such curves
  • define pH buffer and explain how a buffer solution can resist changes in pH.