Chemistry investigates matter (anything that has mass and occupies space), studying its atomic and molecular basis and the transformations it can undergo. Within science, chemistry is often referred to as the central discipline, for the simple reason that when matter is involved, chemical knowledge is required. This is true for both the living and the lifeless world. Hence, chemistry has close connections with physics, biology, pharmacy, medical sciences, and earth sciences. Being broad in its scope, chemistry emerges almost everywhere in society: in addition to the connections mentioned above, think of agriculture, archaeology, art, astronomy, climate change, cosmetics, energy, environment, food, forensic science, materials, medicine, toxicology and transport. Chemical research occurs both at the fundamental and applied level and is vital in developing, amongst others, new materials, environmental benign processes (reducing both pollution and energy consumption), and drugs. At University College Utrecht you obtain theoretical knowledge and insight, as well as practical and experimental skills, in order to cope with issues of chemical nature.

Because of the broad scope of chemistry, the introductory course UCSCICHE11 firmly establishes the basic principles. The focus is on the description of matter in terms of atoms, bonding and molecules and the transformations matter can undergo. You will learn how to use the periodic table as a tool to understand analogies between different elements and find out how orbitals (“electron clouds”) combine into different types of bonds and ultimately determine the properties of matter. You will meet chemical reactions, see when they occur and learn about the energy effects associated with them. Spectroscopic techniques, which are useful in the characterization of molecules and materials, are also subject of the introductory course.

The tracks in chemistry then branch out in three main lines: chemistry of materials, physical chemistry and chemistry of life. In the central materials track both organic and inorganic chemistry are addressed in the course UCSCICHE21 (Chemistry II). You obtain more insight into how molecules and materials are formed by chemical reactions and the properties of compounds derived from the elements in the various groups of the periodic system. In the Chemistry for Sustainability course (UCSCICHE31) you delve deeper into this by studying the role of catalysts in reactions and by evaluating all aspects (energy, waste, commodities) of a chemical process. It is highly recommended to follow one or more chemistry lab courses in this path.

If you are more interested in theory, chemistry, mathematics and physics can be combined in the physical chemistry path. The quantum-mechanical foundations of the introductory course, the statistical basis of energy and entropy, and spectroscopy, are treated in UCSCICHE22 (Physical Chemistry). The physical chemistry path either leads to the Advanced Physics course, or to the Chemistry for Sustainability course, via Chemistry II.

When following the biochemistry track you explore the highly sophisticated way nature performs chemistry in living systems. This molecular insight in the functioning and metabolism of living systems combined with reaction mechanisms and strategies serves to understand the chemistry of developing (new) medicines The level 2 course UCSCICHE23 (Biochemistry) and the level 3 course UCSCICHE32 (Medicinal Chemistry) form part of this track.

In all tracks, courses given at Utrecht University can also be implemented. Ask the chemistry fellow for information.

The chemistry track can be finished with a Bachelor Research Thesis in chemistry. In a thesis project, students carry out individual research within a research group at Utrecht University, one of the affiliated research institutes in Utrecht or a research institute elsewhere. As there are many research groups, there are plenty options, in all three main lines. Most of the suitable research groups participate in one of the following research institutes: the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials, the Bijvoet Centre for Biomolecular Research and the Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences.