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.

As pointed out above, chemistry is connected to many other disciplines, and many combinations are possible.

The biochemistry track as well as the central chemistry track (see previous section) connect to the Molecular Cell Biology track (UCSCIBIO11/ UCSCIBIO21/ UCSCIBIO31), but offer a more chemical point of view. The biochemistry track is part of the pre-med tracks.

UCSCICHE22 Physical Chemistry is also part of the physics tracks (and its double degree programme). You may either enter this course via UCSCICHE11 Introduction to Chemistry or UCSCIPHY12 Relativistic and Classical Physics. Moreover, UCSCICHE22 serves as the main prerequisite for UCSCIPHY3 Advanced Physics.

If your focus is on sustainability, combine chemistry with UCINTSUS21 Sustainability and UCINTSUS31 and/or UCSCIEARxx courses.

If you are interested in the history of science, technical art history or conservation and restoration consider the lab course UCSCICHEL6 Chemistry and Art and combine your chemistry tracks with UCSCIHIS11 History and Philosophy of Science, UCHUMHAR22 Museum Studies and UCHUMHAR32 'Heritage': Dynamics of Collections. This track provides internships in a wide range of (inter)national museums (via the UCU Cultural Heritage Programme – CHIP).

The central chemistry track UCSCICHE11 Introduction to Chemistry, UCSCICHE21 Chemistry II and UCSCICHE31 Advanced Chemistry deals with core chemistry. These courses can be followed in consecutive years and can be easily combined with lab course UCSCICHEL7 Chemistry: a little bit of everything or UCSCICHEL6 Chemistry and Art which are given in the summer and winter terms, respectively.

The biochemistry track encompasses UCSCICHE11 Introduction to Chemistry, UCSCICHE23 Biochemistry and UCSCICHE32 Medicinal Chemistry, also courses of different levels. Not that UCSCIBIO11 Introduction to Cell Biology is a prerequisite for UCSCICHE23 Biochemistry. UCSCICHE32 Medicinal Chemistry can also be followed after UCSCICHE21 Chemistry II but requires some knowledge of biology. Combine the biochemistry track with chemistry lab courses and/or biology lab courses.

UCSCICHE22 Physical Chemistry requires mathematical insight and skills from UCSCIMAT11 Basic Mathematics: Calculus. The course is also part of the physics tracks and you may either enter it via UCSCICHE11 Introduction to Chemistry (where you have the advantage of having the necessary chemical background in a more basic and pictorial form) or via UCSCIPHY12 Relativistic and Classical Physics (where you get a more rigorous treatment of the physics employed). It serves as the main prerequisite for UCSCIPHY3 Advanced Physics. In combination with UCSCICHE11 Introduction to Chemistry (and a little extra work), it is an alternative prerequisite for UCSCICHE31 Advanced Chemistry. The lab course UCSCICHEL6 Chemistry and Art also involves physical chemistry (of soft matter).

Because of the wide scope of chemistry in combination with adjacent or other tracks, there are many options for Master's programmes. What follows are just a few suggestions: With the appropriate combination of tracks you can proceed to Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences, Nanomaterials ScienceDrug Innovation, Drug InnovationEnergy Science, Sustainable Development, Science Education and Communication and History and Philosophy of Science at Utrecht University. Similar, or differently pitched programmes, can be found at most universities around the world. An example of Chemistry in an interdisciplinary context is Technical Art History at University of Amsterdam.

Because of the large number of options, it is important to prepare as early as possible for a Master’s Programme. This determines the choice of courses within the chemistry tracks, but also the combination with other courses and tracks. It may be important to choose lab courses to develop practical and research skills. Exchange universities usually offer a wide range of courses in chemistry, which you can use to broaden or deepen your knowledge and skills base. There are also options for off-campus courses at Utrecht University. Finally, your thesis research can prepare you for enrollment into your master of choice. The chemistry fellow is available for advice.

Combination with many different tracks at University College Utrecht are possible and different off-campus courses are available depending on the specific topics you are interested in. You can also follow additional courses on exchange. The Chemistry fellow is available for a tailor-made advice.

Level Code Course Recommended Courses Off-campus
1 SCICHE11 Introduction to Chemistry    
2 SCHICHE21 Chemistry II    
SCICHE22 Physical Chemistry
SCICHE23 Biochemistry
3 SCICHE31 Advanced Chemistry    
SCICHE32 Medicinal Chemistry

Black arrow: prerequisite
Green arrow: choose 1 out of 2 courses (2 arrows), or recommended course (1 arrow)

SCICHEL5 Metabolic Biochemistry Lab
This course is an introduction to laboratory techniques in biomedical research with a strong focus on metabolism. The goal is to clarify the biochemistry that underlies physiology and pathology.

SCICHEL6 Chemistry and Art
This course provides a connection between the fields of chemistry and technical art history, reconstructing historical recipes and investigating these with modern techniques.

SCICHEL7 Chemistry: a little bit of everything
This course offers a broad set of practical chemical experiments: the making of chemicals, the purification, characterization and quantification of what you create, and understanding the theory and mechanisms behind it.

SCIBIOL4 Biochemical pharmacology
In this module the interaction between small organic molecules and proteins, enzymes and receptors will be measured in detail using biochemical techniques.

Level Code Lab Course Prerequisites Recommended Other
1 SCICHEL5 Metabolic Biochemistry Lab (W) SCICHE11 and SCIBIO11  
SCICHEL6 Chemistry: a little bit of everything (S) SCICHE11
SCICHEL7 Chemistry and Art (W) SCICHE11
SCIBIOL4 Biochemical Pharmacology (S) SCICHE11 or SCIBIO11

W/S = Winter/Summer