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 pops up almost everywhere in society: in addition to the connections mentioned above, think of agriculture, archaeology, art, astronomy, climate change, communication, cosmetics, energy, environment, food, forensic science, materials, medicine, toxicology, transport and so on. 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 firmly establishes the basic principles. The focus is on the description of matter in terms of atoms, bonding, and molecules and of the interactions and 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 treated in the introductory course.
The tracks in chemistry then branch out to deal with three main lines: chemistry of materials, physical chemistry and chemistry of life. In the central materials track you get more insight on how molecules and materials are formed by chemical reactions. Both organic and inorganic chemistry are addressed, and they subsequently are integrated in organo-metallic chemistry near the end of Chemistry II. In the Advanced Chemistry course you delve deeper into this by specifically studying the role of catalysts in (energy-efficient) reactions.
If you are more interested in theory, mathematical skills can be combined with physical insights in the physical chemistry path. The quantum-mechanical foundations of the introductory course as well as the statistical basis of energy and entropy, which particularly shows up in applications of soft matter (like food, paint and many biological systems), are treated. Similar applications come back in the Advanced Chemistry course, where you also encounter diffraction and scattering as research techniques.
When following the biochemistry track you will 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 in Medicinal Chemistry.