Our first year chemistry courses lay the foundations for your future studies. Whether you plan to continue studying chemistry or intend to focus on other disciplines, these courses will provide you with a range of practical skills that will benefit your future studies.

First year information

Note: All of our courses in first year include a laboratory/practical component. See below for more details.

Check the following for planning your degree with chemistry, preparing for chemistry laboratory classes and finding study help in first year.

  • Update: You can now take CHEM1031 even if it's not an option for a major in your program.

    The diagram below should assist you in choosing the term 1 Chemistry course which best suits your background and interests. Experience shows that students usually obtain the best grade when enrolled in the term 1 course recommended by this chart. Students in the Medicinal Chemistry program should enrol in CHEM1051 in term 1. 

    Note: CHEM1011 and CHEM1021 are available in T1, T2 and T3.

  • Many students find chemistry challenging at university, even those who have done HSC chemistry. The Chemistry Bridging Course offers a valuable way to revise chemistry in preparation for doing it at UNSW (or other universities).

    • UNSW offers choices of Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics Bridging Courses for students to get experience of how they are taught at university level.
    • Each course has a total of 36 - 42 hours of lectures, tutorials, laboratory classes and/or demonstration sessions.
    • The Chemistry Bridging Course is intended as an aid - it is not a specific pre-requisite for enrolling in chemistry at UNSW.

    Who is eligible?

    All Year 12 (or equivalent) students, mature-age students, and deferring students. If you intend to study at another university you may still enrol in a UNSW Bridging Course. However, we advise you to ensure that the Bridging Course you select is recognised by that institution.

    For all details, including registration procedure, see the UNSW Bridging Courses site.

    If you want to study chemistry at university but have little or no background in chemistry you should also consider CHEM1001 - Introductory Chemistry, which offers a more expansive introduction to the chemistry needed for the mainstream first year chemistry courses. This brochure compares CHEM1001 with the Bridging Course:

    You may also like to read the CHEM1001 course outline. If you would like further information or advice, please contact the Science Student Centre via the options in the Links section.

  • You may also like to read the CHEM1001 course outline. If you would like further information or advice, please contact the Science Student Centre via the options in the Links section.

  • First year laboratory classes are held in new laboratories featuring large screen multimedia displays, state of the art fume hoods and safety equipment. All teaching laboratories are air conditioned.

    ALL students working in the First Year Chemistry laboratory must have:

    • Safety glasses or professionally fitted overglasses meeting Standards Australia guidelines (AS/NZS 1337.1). Regular spectacles are not acceptable; if you wear spectacles you MUST have overglasses, regular safety glasses are not acceptable over spectacles.
    • Laboratory coat (fabric, NOT paper).
    • Fully enclosed footwear (sandals, thongs, ballet flats are not allowed).

    Students not meeting these requirements will not be admitted to the laboratory. Safety eyewear can be obtained from the School of Optometry 10-12 and 2-4 each day.

    First Year Chemistry laboratory classes are held in rooms 133 and 165 in the Chemical Sciences builidng. Both laboratories are on level 1 of the Chemical Sciences Building. See the map below. To get to room 133 or 165 enter Chemical Sciences through the ground floor doors closest to the Dalton Building, or at the rear, opposite the Australian School of Business. Use the stairs to get to level 1 and follow the signs.

  • The chemistry study area is located on the Ground floor of the Dalton Building, in the Gibson Computer Lab (G11). Students enrolled in a CHEM course are welcome to use this study area for quiet study any time between 8:30am and 6pm.

    Duty tutor services

    A tutor will be available to answer your CHEM first year course-related questions for an hour during study periods. This is a free service, and no appointments are required. Just show up at the given times, and put your name on the list to receive assistance. The tutor will help each student on the list for a maximum of 10 minutes before moving on to the next person, so please come prepared with specific questions to ensure you make the most of your time.

    Duty tutor schedule

    The duty tutor service will operate during flexibility week (week 6) and in the period leading up to the final exam only.

    Dates and times will be posted here once finalised.

Course availability


  • CHEM1001
  • CHEM1011
  • CHEM1021
  • CHEM1031
  • CHEM1051
  • CHEM1811



  • CHEM1011
  • CHEM1021
  • CHEM1041
  • CHEM1061
  • CHEM1821
  • SCIF1004



  • CHEM1011
  • CHEM1021
  • CHEM1829
  • CHEM1831

Learn more about what studying chemistry looks like and join the community

Meet some of our undergraduate students

Studying chemistry will be different for each student. Meet some of our undergraduates, listen to them as they describe their experiences and discover more about our hands-on laboratory work.

Students of Chemistry Society

The Students of Chemistry Society (SOCS), host regular social events for undergraduate and postgraduate chemistry students. Join our community, make new friends and connect with others who share your passion for chemistry.
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Undergraduate research

There are multiple opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in research. Join one of our research groups with interests covering the diverse spectrum of chemistry.