Chemistry pops up almost everywhere in society: agriculture, archaeology, art, astronomy, biology, climate change, communication, computers, cosmetics, earth, energy, environment, food, forensic science, heating, materials, medicine, pharmaceutics, physics, toxicology, transport and so on. Because of this very wide range of applications, the introductory course firmly establishes their common basis. You learn to understand matter in terms of atoms, chemical bonds, molecules and their interactions and transformations. You learn how to use the periodic table as a tool to understand analogies between different elements based on their similarities and differences in orbitals (“electron clouds”). These orbitals interact and combine into different types of chemical bonds of widely different strength. You meet chemical reactions and see how these create new molecules and materials, while costing or sometimes generating energy (although you will see entropy ultimately decides whether or not a reaction may occur). You also encounter reaction mechanisms and different spectroscopy techniques – based on energy transitions – which help to characterize materials and reactions.
The tracks in Chemistry then branch out to deal with the three main topics of chemistry, Chemistry of Materials, Chemical Conversion and Chemistry of Life. In the central track you get more insight how different materials are produced by chemical reactions and how these are influenced by tuning their mechanisms.
This part is broadly divided in organic and inorganic reactions which are integrated in organo-metallics near the end of Chemistry II. In the Advanced Chemistry course you delve deeper into this by specifically studying the role catalysts play in (energy-efficient) reactions.
If you are more theoretically inclined, you can combine your mathematical skills with physical insight in Physical Chemistry to understand the quantum-mechanical foundations of the introductory course as well as studying the statistical basis of energy and entropy, which particularly shows up in applications of soft matter (like food and paint and many biological systems). Similar applications come back in the Advanced Chemistry course, where you also encounter diffraction and scattering as research techniques.
In Biochemistry you will encounter the way nature performs chemistry in living systems dealing with peculiar solvents – like water – and how it controls its energy and entropy with the help of genetically programmed catalysts. 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.