College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences2021-2022

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Chemistry, Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

Purpose Statement

Chemistry is a diverse discipline that encompasses living processes, inorganic interactions, and analytical methods. Chemistry deals with the basic laws of the physical world and the composition and properties of matter. Students trained in chemistry enter careers in academia, research, pharmacy, forensics, medicine, the environment, space exploration, and national defense. Students can select an emphasis that best prepares them for their chosen career path. 

The breadth of the field of chemistry requires a wide range of knowledge and skills. The goal of the NAU chemistry degree program is to ensure that our graduates:
  • are well versed in the fundamental principles of chemistry: the atomic theory of matter, the quantum nature of the atom, and the principle laws of thermodynamics;
  • are knowledgeable about frequently encountered elements, compounds, and reactions;
  • understand biosynthetic pathways and modes of action of biomolecules;
  • understand factors controlling the mechanisms of chemical reactions;
  • are knowledgeable about synthesis strategies and can successfully conduct synthetic sequences in the laboratory;
  • understand the principles of chemical analysis and are proficient at using modern instrumentation to carry out analysis;
  • are adept at solving problems independently and contributing to a team effort;
  • able to communicate their scientific results orally and in writing.

Student Learning Outcomes

All Chemistry Degrees
  • Atomic Theory: Recognize that modern chemical science is based upon the idea of atoms, their combination in compounds, and their recombination in the course of chemical reactions.
  • Quantum Nature of the Atom: Realize that physical and chemical properties of matter result from subatomic particles that behave according to physical rules not apparent in the behavior of macroscopic objects, and discern the importance of spectroscopy in establishing this behavior.
  • Thermodynamics: Understand the principal laws of thermodynamics and how these dictate the behavior of chemical substances. Students must also understand how the thermodynamic information about chemical and physical changes shape chemist’s explanations of interactions between atoms, molecules, and other ensembles of particles.
  • Frequently Encountered Elements, Compounds and Reactions: Possess a mental library of common substances, their physical properties, and reactions that they undergo. The major classes of organic chemicals and their reactions, the characteristic reactions of other elements of the periodic table, solubility, acid/base, and redox chemistry all must be familiar to students. Students must also be aware of the hazards, both personal and environmental, associated with elements and compounds.
  • Mechanisms of Reactions: Understand how the study of the rates of chemical reactions and the structures of the products of these reactions can lead to knowledge of the detailed atomic-level behavior of chemical substances and elucidation of their chemical and physical properties.
  • Synthesis: Use their knowledge of chemical reactivity to plan and execute the preparation of compounds from common starting materials.
  • Skills and Techniques: Work independently using their own hands and intellect to solve chemical problems with traditional and modern laboratory tools. Students work together in teams, sharing tasks, results and interpretations without compromising the integrity of the investigation.
  • Communication of Scientific Results: Retrieve detailed information about chemical and physical properties of substances and accounts of other experimental or theoretical research. Students must communicate their own results in writing and speaking using appropriate scientific formats and language. Students incorporate into their results an awareness of the global context in which results and theories are formulated, communicated, and debated.
All Chemistry Emphases 
  • Kinetic Molecular Theory: Understand that atomic, molecular and ionic particles are in constant motion. Ensembles of these particles have a characteristic distribution of kinetic energies based on the temperature of the sample.  Use knowledge of this distribution of kinetic energy to predict chemical and physical properties of the sample.
  • Structure and Bonding: Understand how atoms combine in covalent molecules, coordination complexes and ionic solids, and understand the importance of the 3-D arrangements of atoms and ions in these molecules. Students use this information to predict interactions between ions, atoms, molecules and other bonded collections of atoms.
  • Chemistry Analysis: Have the necessary knowledge and strategies for the separation, identification and quantification of compounds and elements from complex mixtures. Identify uncertainties associated with these measurements.
  • Measurement of Chemical and Physical Properties: Use traditional and modern laboratory equipment to measure chemical and physical properties of substances and be able to correlate the resulting data with chemical models of structure and reactivity.
  • Chemical Instrumentation: Understand the fundamental physical and chemical principles involved in instrumental chemical analyses. Understand the chemistry relevant to sampling and sample preparation and apply these to the successful operation of instruments regardless of model or manufacturer.
  • Biosynthesis and Bioactivity: Understand the biosynthetic pathways and modes of action of biomolecules. Understand the importance of the 3-D arrangements of atoms and ions in these molecules. Students should also be aware of the relationship between structure and bioactivity of molecules.
  • Forensics and Criminalistics: Perform a range of the job functions of a chemist in a forensic science laboratory including: following strict procedures regarding the handling and documentation of evidence, applying scientific protocols to ensure the quality and reliability of tests and equipment, and applying the appropriate chemical analytical scheme to be used on physical evidence.

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