Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

8.4 Organization of the Chemistry Curriculum

Chemistry is the study of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter.  There are a variety of ways to organize the study of chemistry, three of which are presented here.  The first is the pattern followed by many introductory chemistry classes, while the second is the outline used by the College Board’s Advanced Placement® Chemistry program, and the third represents the way most colleges departmentalize chemistry. 

Activity 8.4.1 – Developing an outline for chemistry
Develop an outline for your chemistry textbook, and compare it with the three outlines listed below. Which of the models does your chemistry book most closely resemble?  Give a one-sentence definition for each item in your outline as illustrated in model-3. Your outline will serve as a "road map" as you study chemistry.  Refer to it often to develop an understanding of the scope and organization of chemistry.

(Model-1) Introductory Chemistry

(1) Basic Principles

(2) States of Matter

(3) Reaction Dynamics

(4) Specialized Chemistry

(Model-2) College Board’s Advanced Placement® Chemistry

 (1) Structure of Matter

(2) States of Matter

(3) Reactions


(Model-3) Departmentalization of Chemistry at Many Colleges

(1) Inorganic Chemistry (freshman class) - Properties and reactions of substances that are not carbon-based.
(2) Organic Chemistry (sophomore class) - Study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and synthesis of carbon-based compounds.
(3) Physical Chemistry (upper division class) - Discovery and description of the theoretical bases for the behavior of matter. 
(4) Biochemistry (upper division class) - The chemistry of living things, including the structure and function of biological molecules and the mechanisms and products of their reactions.
(5) Analytical Chemistry (upper division class) - The separation, identification, and measurement of components of matter.
(6) Nuclear Chemistry (upper division class) -The chemistry of radioactivity, nuclear processes and nuclear properties.