Chemistry is the central science. It deals with the composition, structure and behaviour of the atoms and molecules that make up all forms of matter. Understanding the world at an atomic level is essential to all areas of science. Chemistry interlinks and contributes to medicine, geology, materials science, molecular physics, biology and astronomy. Its central role in science is emphasised by the fact that chemistry merges with Biological Sciences (the field of biochemistry) at one extreme and with Physics (physical chemistry and chemical physics) at the other.
Most of the benefits of living in our modern society have derived, at least in part, from advances in the understanding of chemistry and the ways in which it can be applied.
Chemistry has an important role to play in solving the world's major problems: energy, food supply, health and the environment. Every day we utilise products developed by experimental chemists, such as paints, plastics, fabrics, petrol, dyes and pharmaceuticals. Practising chemists make important contributions to almost all fields of applied science. Indeed, chemists far outnumber all other types of scientists.
A basic knowledge of chemistry is essential in order to appreciate and understand the material world in which we live and provides a means of making the world a better place.
The Department of Chemistry at UC carries out research, teaching and scholarship in all of the traditional areas of the discipline – inorganic, organic, physical, theoretical, environmental and analytical chemistry. The department is also involved with the teaching of Biochemistry and provides service courses for engineers, biologists and foresters.
The Department of Chemistry is equipped with excellent facilities both in undergraduate laboratories and for research work. Research activities in the department include investigations into such diverse topics as the chemistry of biological systems, trace elements in the environment, nanotechnology, new materials, marine natural products and organic reactions.
Year 13 chemistry is recommended preparation for first-year (100-level) students, but for those who have had minimal preparation in chemistry, we offer CHEM 114, an introductory Chemistry course. Students enrolling in CHEM 111 and CHEM 112 must have at least 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 chemistry, or an equivalent background in other courses of study (eg, Cambridge, overseas qualifications). Students with fewer than 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 chemistry should first enrol in CHEM 114 Foundations of Chemistry.
Students can also enrol in the Science Headstart chemistry summer preparatory course to build confidence in the basic concepts required for advancing first-year courses.
For most Science students core first-year Chemistry consists of two half-year courses: CHEM 111 and CHEM 112. These build on, and expand, the basic framework provided by Year 12 and Year 13 chemistry. They provide a background for advanced courses in Chemistry and for courses in Engineering, Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Environmental Science, Geology and Forestry.
All 100-level courses involve weekly three-hour laboratory or problem-solving laboratory sessions that provide an opportunity to work with chemicals, to better understand course material from lectures and to acquire some of the basic practical skills of the working chemist.
To major in Chemistry and have access to the full range of second-year (200-level) Chemistry courses, students must pass both CHEM 111 and CHEM 112. Those who have passed just one of these may only be able to enter some 200-level CHEM courses.
The 200-level Chemistry courses develop and expand on the first-year material and give a deeper treatment of specialised areas such as organic and inorganic reactions, structural methods, and physical, environmental and analytical chemistry.
The 300-level courses build upon the practical and theoretical foundations established in the first two years to give students the ability to work with and understand the chemistry of complex systems and molecules. These courses emphasise the place of chemistry in the modern world and provide for the use of modern chemical instrumentation and analytical methods.
Pre-BSc(Hons) and BSc(Hons)
Students who are high achievers (B+ average and above) in their 300-level majoring subject may enrol in a BSc(Hons) degree.
This involves an additional fourth year of study, which includes a research project. The project is an excursion into research which can sometimes lead to results being published in international journals.
Uniquely in New Zealand, students with outstanding results in NCEA Level 3 and/or Scholarship may be invited to enter directly into second-year courses and have the opportunity to complete an honours degree in three years.
The MSc degree requires one year of coursework beyond the BSc, together with a thesis based on a further year of research; students with a BSc(Hons) move directly into the research year. Research work for a PhD can be undertaken by those who have obtained either a BSc(Hons) or an MSc with at least second-class honours. Three years or more of full-time research are required for the PhD, which is awarded on the basis of a thesis and an oral examination.
A further possibility for students with Chemistry degrees who wish to work in industry would be to pursue a BE(Hons) in Chemical and Process Engineering, which can be completed with an additional 2 to 2.5 years of study. Similarly, Chemistry graduates interested in a career in commerce may be eligible for entry into the Master of Commerce and Master of Business Administration degrees, and the graduate diplomas in Business Administration and Management.
New Zealand's unique mix of primary and secondary industries provides a wide choice of careers in chemistry. Expanding industries in New Zealand, for example those related to new sources of energy and to the development of forestry and dairy resources, are further increasing the demand for qualified chemists. New Zealand needs chemists in teaching, industry, health and research.
Industry uses chemists in such areas as research and development of new products, monitoring product composition and quality, and environmental monitoring and regulation.
Hospitals and other health services employ chemists in areas such as biochemical research, medical analysis and toxicology.
Chemists are well trained in problem-solving and skilled at handling information, which leads naturally into a wide diversity of job opportunities including, for example, sales and management.
A degree in Chemistry is a good start to a teaching career with its emphasis on laboratory work and its relevance to other sciences.
The majority of chemical research in New Zealand is done in universities, Crown Research Institutes and private laboratories. These institutions provide chemical challenges equal to any in the world.
For further career information, please go to www.canterbury.ac.nz/careers