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The Structure of Matter

Course Code: CHEM 1110
Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Chemistry
Credits: 4.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab
Typically Offered: Fall, Summer, Winter
course overview

This course offers a brief review of stoichiometry and the treatment of experimental data, then focuses on the modern view of atomic structure, theories of bonding and molecular structure, kinetics, organic chemistry including nomenclature, conformation of alkanes and substitution reactions. A practical laboratory component is an integral part of the course.

Course Content

1. Introduction and Review

Scientific measurements, significant figures; the mole, formulas, stoichiometry.

2. Atomic Structure

Development of atomic structure; fundamental particles; quantum theory of radiation; the quantum mechanical model of the atom; Planck, Heisenberg, orbital shapes, sizes and energies, electronic configurations; periodic properties: ionization energy, atomic size, electron affinity.

3. Bonding and Molecular Structure

Ionic bonding; covalent bonding: Lewis structures, electronegativity, polarity, resonance, shapes of molecules; Valence Bond Theory: hybridization, orbital diagrams; Molecular Orbital Theory: shapes and energies of molecular orbitals, bond order, intermolecular forces, and hydrogen bonding.

4. Chemical Kinetics

(Review: basic factors affecting reaction rates) concept and definitions of chemical reaction rates, rate constant and reaction order, integrated rate laws for zero, first and simple second order reactions, half-life; collision theory and activation energy, reaction profile diagrams, mechanism and rate equations, SN1 and SN2 reaction mechanisms, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis.

5. Organic Chemistry

Nomenclature; identification and physical properties of common functional groups, conformations of alkanes, Newman projections, ring flipping, conformations of substituted cyclohexanes, R/S and E/Z system of nomenclature,  SN1/SN2 reactions and mechanisms and carbocation stability.

Options: Organic compounds involved in human physiology and anatomy may be discussed.

Laboratory Content

The following laboratory experiments will be selected from the following list and performed during the lab period:

  1. Laboratory Safety
  2. Preparation of Reagents and Equipment for the Laboratory
  3. Volumetric Techniques: A Review of Titration
  4. Synthesis of Alum
  5. Back Titration
  6. Atomic Spectra
  7. Synthesis of ASA
  8. Chromatography
  9. Preparation of Geometric Isomers
  10. Preparation and Analysis of Potassium Hydrogen Maleate
  11. Molecular Geometry
  12. Synthesis of an Azo Dye 
  13. Electrolysis of Water
  14. The Molar Mass of Magnesium
  15. A Guided Inquiry Investigation of Vapour Pressure 

Methods of Instruction

The course will be presented using lectures, problem sessions and class discussion. The laboratory course will be used to illustrate the practical aspects of the course material.  Close coordination will be maintained between laboratory and classroom work whenever possible.  This will be accomplished by discussing laboratory experiments in class and, when necessary, by using the lab period for problem solving.

Options: Students will be encouraged to view course material in the context of teaching through a combination of class presentations, cooperative learning and tutorials. Current educational technology, such as research using the Internet, molecular modeling software and data analysis with spreadsheets, may be employed.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:

Lecture Material (75%)

  • Two or three in-class tests will be given during the semester (30% in total)
  • A final exam covering the entire semester’s work will be given during the final examination period (30%)
  • Any or all of the following evaluations, at the discretion of the instructor: assignments, quizzes, class participation [5% maximum],presentations, research assignments, group work (15% in total)

Laboratory (25%)

Written reports for each experiment or activity will be handed in and graded.  These reports may be of various types: complete reports, short reports (handed in on report sheets) or written research assignments.  In addition, activities, such as written quizzes or online assignments, may be evaluated. Qualitative and quantitative results of experiments performed on unknown samples may be graded. 


A student who misses three or more laboratory experiments will earn a maximum P grade.

A student who achieves less than 50% in either the lecture or laboratory portion of the course will earn a maximum P grade.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the students will:

  1. Carry out measurements using the correct number of significant figures with precision and accuracy.
  2. Solve stoichiometry problems of the following types: gram-gram, solution stoichiometry, limiting reactant, problems involving two simultaneous or two sequential reactions.
  3. Explain the Bohr Theory of atomic structure.
  4. Give the electronic configuration of any of the common elements in the periodic table.
  5. Given a periodic table, explain relative sizes, ionization energies, and electron affinities of the elements.
  6. Explain and be able to apply the following concepts to covalent bonds: dipole moment, electronegativity, and percent ionic character.
  7. Draw Lewis structures for a given molecule.  The molecule may exhibit resonance, or expanded valence shells.
  8. Use the VSEPR theory to predict the geometry of any polyatomic molecule.
  9. Given the formula of a polyatomic molecule, use the Valence Bond Theory to describe the types of bonds, the type of hybridization of central atom, and draw a diagram showing orbital overlap and geometry.
  10. Use the Molecular Orbital Theory of bonding to describe the bonding in any diatomic molecule involving atoms from the first row of the periodic table or any homonuclear diatomic molecule involving atoms from the second row of the periodic table.
  11. Given the formulas of two compounds, list the types of intermolecular forces that apply to each molecule, and predict which will have the higher boiling point.
  12. Solve problems of the following types, given a list of selected equations: order, rate constant and activation energy of a chemical reaction.
  13. From the formula of an organic compound, give the IUPAC name.
  14. Given the formula of an organic compound, draw diagrams of all possible isomers, and describe each type of isomer.
  15. Be able to name and identify the common functional groups.
  16. Be able to draw the lowest and highest energy conformations of alkanes via Newman projections and cyclohexanes in 3D indicating axial and equatorial bonds and 1,3-diaxial interactions.
  17. Given a compound with a stereogenic centre, be able to identify it using the R/S system of nomenclature.
  18. Be able to provide the mechanism of either an SN1 or SN2 substitution reaction indicating the structures of all transition states & intermediates including the stereochemical outcome of the reaction.
  19. Given a list of carbocations, be able to rank their relative stabilities.

Options: For classes with students enrolled in the Bachelor of  Physical Education and  Coaching  program:

  1. Instructors will be aware that students in this class are seeking a career as teachers and therefore topics may be presented with a pedagogical perspective.
  2. Students may be provided with skills enabling them to explain both quantitative and qualitative topics in the course to an audience of elementary or high school students.

Laboratory Objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Give the name and describe the use of common laboratory equipment.
  2. Accurately perform standard laboratory techniques using the accepted methods, such as titration, weighing, pipetting.
  3. Give the random and systematic errors inherent in each of the common quantitative techniques which are used in the laboratory.
  4. Write a report based on observations and data obtained in the laboratory using a standard report format.
  5. Given a set of experimental data or using data obtained in the laboratory, apply the appropriate mathematical techniques (e.g. graphical analysis, solution of equations, etc.) necessary to obtain a numerical result.
  6. Using the data, observations or results of an experiment, determine the relationship between experimental variables.
  7. Analyze the overall laboratory experiment with respect to errors inherent in the method or techniques.
  8. Give the theory upon which the experiment is based.

course prerequisites

CHEM 1108 (C or better) AND Pre-Calculus 11 (C or better) or equivalent


Chemistry 12 (C+ or better) AND Pre-Calculus 11 (C or better) or equivalent

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.