CHEM 251 : Structure and Spectroscopy


2022 Semester One (1223) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

To study chemicals it is important to understand the stereochemical and electronic properties of molecules. Molecular orbital techniques and the application of approaches based on molecular symmetry and group theory to the understanding of molecular properties, bonding and spectroscopy will be studied. Application of these concepts to spectroscopic characterisation and quantification of materials by various spectroscopic techniques will be discussed.

Course Overview

The atom is the basic building block of chemistry. This course begins by exploring the structure and energetics of the atom, before expanding into a thorough investigation of molecules and coordination complexes, focusing on their bonding, geometry, molecular orbitals, intermolecular attractions, conformations and stereochemistry. Finally, common spectroscopic techniques used to probe the chemical composition and molecular/electronic structure of molecules are introduced.

Lectures for CHEM251 are divided into the following modules: 
  1. Atomic structure (7 lectures)
  2. Molecular orbital theory, symmetry, geometry and isomerism (7 lectures)
  3. Coordination chemistry (9 lectures)
  4. Principles of spectroscopy, instrumentation and various spectroscopic techniques (12 lectures)
Tutorials and Quizzes have been designed to reinforce the lecture content and to promote student-centered learning.

The Labs will reinforce material learned in class, and introduce students to some important experimental techniques. A lab-related assignment, in the form of a group poster, will give the students the opportunity to present a part of their lab work in a conference-like setting.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: CHEM 120 and 15 points from MATHS 108, 110, 120, 130, 150, 153, PHYSICS 120, 160, STATS 101, 108 Restriction: CHEM 220

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand and describe the principles of atomic structure and molecular orbital theory. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Describe the various aspects of molecular symmetry and geometry. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of spectroscopy, instrumentation and various spectroscopic techniques. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Understand and utilise chemical techniques in a laboratory setting following safe laboratory practises. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  5. Communicate results in various ways including technical report writing and in forms for a non-technical audience. (Capability 1, 2, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Test 15% Individual Test
Laboratories 25% Group & Individual Coursework
Tutorials 5% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Presentation 5% Group Coursework
Quizzes 10% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Final Exam

Key Topics

Atomic Structure (7 lectures)  
Molecular orbital theory, symmetry, geometry and isomerism (7 lectures) 
Coordination Chemistry (9 lectures)
Principles of spectroscopy, instrumentation and various spectroscopic techniques (12 lectures) 

Special Requirements

Students are required to complete and pass both the theory and lab components of the course.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 36 hours of lectures, 18 hours laboratory work (6 x 3-hour labs), 6 hours of tutorials, 60 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 30 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience or Online

This course is offered in two delivery modes:

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs and tutorials to receive credit for components of the course. Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including quizzes will be available through CANVAS quizzes. Attendance on campus is required for the test and exam. The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable delivery.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

A remote version of the course can be made available to students located overseas because of border restrictions, or those with an exemption to study remotely.


Attendance is expected at scheduled online activities including tutorials to receive credit for components of the course. Attendance on campus is not required for the test or exam. Study material will be released progressively throughout the course. This course runs to the University semester timetable and all the associated completion dates and deadlines will apply.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Housecroft, Inorganic Chemistry
Atkins, Physical Chemistry
Engle, Physical Chemistry

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2021 12:52 p.m.