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Course Breakdown

Weekly quizzes: 5%

Test: 15%

Assignment: 15%

Laboratories: 15%

Exam: 50%

Course Information


Recommended Textbook:

  • Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry (5-7th ed. all fine) - McMurry

UoA Course Website: link

Basic Information

CHEM 110 is a relatively hard Chemistry paper but does establish a lot of groundwork for further studies in the medical field. There is a lot of content and concepts to learn and a wealth of past papers with tricky questions to practice with. The course coordinator uploaded past papers along with their answers in 2023 so doing those papers provided good practice.


Within your course guide is an extensive amount of notes with lots of places for you to fill in. Most of the lecturers simply went through the stuff within your course guide (on the lecture slides) and you filled in the blanks. In 2023, the content was organised so that there was one lecture and one tutorial each week, with the rest of the content being available online. Instead of teaching all the content in 3 lectures each week, most of the teaching was moved online.

In this paper, there is a Canvas quiz associated with each week. The term test comprises both multiple choice and short answer questions and only comprises the first half of the semester content, while the final exam tests all of the semesters content.

Throughout the semester, you also need to complete a Science in the Media assignment, which will look at how chemistry (and science more broadly) is reported in the media, and explore the implications of good and bad science communication. The Science in the Media assignment is supported by a series of online modules which you are expected to work through at your own pace. Each module is associated with a quiz or written activity on Canvas, these contribute points towards your final assignment mark. Try your best not to leave this to the last minute as it can be a bit tedious trying to write it all the night before.

Laboratory Component

These labs required a pre-lab and in-lab assessment. These labs were fun and involved pretty similar techniques altogether; titration, filtration, vacuum drying etc. They were moderately connected to the course content but they can be quite stressful and time-pressured. It helps to pre-read the lab and practice the calculations you had to do on the BestChoice pre-lab so you could do everything in the lab smoothly. Remember to work fast but remain calm.

Lecture Content


This block was taught entirely by Dr Kaitlin Beare in 2023. This section was considered by many to be very foundational; meaning it was likely that most people who did Chemistry in high school had done parts of this block before. The lectures covered various complex concepts, such as the different types of intermolecular forces (bonding), isomerism, nomenclature, and the basics of mechanism and reactivity.



This section was taught by Dr Melissa Cadelis in 2023. This section was difficult as it required a lot of problem solving, but through tactical thinking it can become easier. Special note: do practice, practice and practice. This section requires a lot of practice in order to be able to figure out the structure - do lots and lots of past papers. Topics included discussion of the 4 types of spectroscopy (IR, UV-Vis, NMR, and Mass Spec). With this section, aim to confidently be able to see how different types of compounds will show up differently on these types of spectroscopy. You could then move on to being able to identify a compound based off its spectroscopy alone.



This section was taught by Prof Duncan McGillivray. This section was very mathematically based and considered quite hard due to the mathematical integration with calculating half lives, and other enzyme kinetics. This section in the course guide was slightly different (compared to Block 1 and 2) in that it had a lot of text and required a lot of conceptual understanding. Tips to doing well in this section was doing many past papers and practicing the calculations and memorising (and understanding!) key definitions of terms mentioned during lectures. Topics in this lecture series varied from focusing on reaction rates, factors affecting it, to more mathematically heavy concepts such as rate law, half life, activation energy, and rate mechanisms.

Functional Groups - Part I 

This section was taught by Dr Kaitlin Beare again and a similar approach could be used for this section as for sections such as the Foundation and Functional Group Part II. This section was considered quite straightforward in terms of lecture content as it primarily covered the reaction mechanisms of various organic compounds, beginning with alkenes, alkynes, aromatic compounds & alkyl halides. Although described as 'straightforward', as usual, care must be taken since it was not always easy in the tests or exams.

Acids and Bases

This section was taught by Prof Duncan McGillivary again and a similar approach could be used for this section as for the Kinetics section. Remember to practice lots of problems - the mathematics and the concepts were quite tricky and could easily catch some out. Also note, you shouldn't need to be able to derive the equations (despite the fact that the lecturer likes to show you the derivation during lectures). Those who completed L3 Aqueous Chemistry (or equivalent in other systems) will recognise the various topics covered, such as acid-base relationship, and its respectable characteristics (e.g pH, pKa, Ka, titration curves).

Functional Groups Part 2

This section was taught by Dr Kaitlin Beare in 2023. This section was quite hard in that there was a lot to learn. It was imperative that you paid a bit more attention in these lectures. However, she was overall considered to be clear and knowledgeable in her section. This section could be approached in a similar fashion as to the Functional Groups Part 1 section; doing past papers, understanding and memorising concepts and facts.


Similar to Functional Groups Part 1, this block focuses on organic compounds, but instead focuses on reaction mechanisms of alcohols and its derivatives, aldehydes & ketones, amines, carboxylic acids, and its derivatives. An interesting lecture topic was also introduced towards the end, where these concepts were applied into chemical aspects of carbohydrates and proteins.

Updated: 2024

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