Studying Chemistry

I know that a lot of people jump to the conclusion of a medicine fall back option, when they find out you read chemistry at university. This is a misconception on behalf of many students which needs to be addressed.   

Chemistry is a central science which branches into both biology and physics. The skill set of a chemist ranges from mathematical equations, to chemical mechanisms, to practical laboratory experiments which are accompanied by scheduled lab reports. Not many degrees can justify such diversity.

The BSc involves the study of three core modules; organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. Each module has a designated set of laboratory experiments, where organic labs consist more of producing pure yields of a chemical compound via crystallisation and rotary evaporation. Inorganic labs are often less colourful, with the study of more metallic compounds, experimenting how they can be rearranged by following UV-VIS spectra. Whereas, physical labs tend to be a data collecting session, whether you are using a mass spectrometer, to measuring the potential of a compound for equal intervals of time, evaluating the results of data to show for example concentration can affect the potential.

Since lectures are very in depth, with countless mechanisms and equations, there are tests throughout the course, which for me counted towards my final degree classification. Therefore, it was important to quickly grasp different concepts of how for example, oxygen is more electronegative than carbon, taking more electron density towards the oxygen, in being able to draw mechanisms for an unknown compound. A Level Mathematics is also built upon, where integration and differentiation are deemed as basic.

I would say that quantum and computational chemistry were my favourite modules, which expand out from the core modules. Here, the approach requires an open mind for the bigger picture. Diagrams are crucial in illustrating how quantum theories work, for a molecule in 2D to 3D graphical representations. Many chemists become accustomed to paying close attention to the gritty details of chemistry, finding it more difficult to bring it all together in a way which portrays the motion of chemical compounds in a realistic manner. Although, quantum and computational chemistry are very complex and puzzling to grasp as a whole, without losing the intricacy of chemistry, it is a part which brings the entire subject up from its foundations, into reality.

In final year, writing a dissertation on Antimatter stretched my boundaries to a new maximum. The project allowed me to explore the view of an atom, from the Bohr-Rutherford model to a set of equations by the theory of Dirac. This deserves a post for itself, having written exactly 10,500 words on a form of matter many do not understand on a level that matches matter as we know it.

Overall, I very much enjoyed studying all modules, with organic as one module with the most ups and downs. I would say chemistry is a degree which challenges how you look at puzzle solving from under a nano-magnifying glass to afar, enhancing all mathematical, written and practical aspects of thinking.

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