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CHEM 3640 - Chemistry of the Elements I

Lecturer: Marcel Schlaf                                 MACN 339, x 53002,

Lab-coordinator: Robert Reed                     SSC 3108, x 53805,

Lab-demos:    TBA

Click here for a full Course Outline (pdf)

Objective of the course

This course aims to give a comprehensive introduction to concepts used by inorganic chemists to describe the structure, properties and reactivity of compounds of the main group elements. The most important of these concepts that the course will cover are: Electronic Structure of Atoms, Symmetry, MO theory, Acids & Bases, Structure of Solids, Trends in the Periodic System. In addition a brief overview of the substance chemistry and some technical and industrial application of the main group elements will be discussed.

In the lab portion of the course, students will then have the opportunity to observe some of these concepts “in action”.

Prerequisites: CHEM 2060 & 2070

Suggested complementing courses:

CHEM 3860: Quantum Chemistry

CHEM 3870: Symmetry and Spectroscopy

CHEM 3750: Organic Chemistry I

CHEM 3760: Organic Chemistry II

Lecture & Lab times and dates:

Lecture:           MWF 10:30-11:20 h, MCKN 228
Lab:                 … check Web-Advisor for your schedule !!!

Start:   Friday, September 6th 2019
End:    Friday, December 13th, 2019

Monday, 23/09/2019 to Friday, 27/09/2019  – NO CLASSES – Professor Schlaf away at a conference (

Monday, October 14th:  Holiday - NO CLASSES SCHEDULED

Total 33 lectures over 12 weeks.

Exams and Deadlines:

Midterm 1:      Friday, October 11th, 2019 – in class.
Midterm 2:      Friday, November 15th, 2018 – in class.
Final:              Time & location TBA

Dr. Schlaf’s office hours: Please book an appointment with me by sending me a brief email.

... or feel free to stop by my office/labs without prior notice anytime and I will try to accommodate you, but please be aware that I may be busy and ask you to come back later.

You can also ask questions by e-mail ( and I will respond at the earliest possible convenience.


Theoretical part (70 % of total mark):

Midterm 1:                  21 % (= 30 % of lecture portion)

Midterm 2:                  21 % (= 30 % of lecture portion)

Final:                         28 % (= 40 % of lecture portion)

Laboratory (30 % of total mark):

Lab and lab report marks    30 %

Important notes and additional evaluation rules:

You must achieve 50 % in each of the course segments separately to pass the course, i.e., you must have a minimum of 15 % of your total course marks from the lab and a minimum of 35 % of total course marks from the lecture portion of the course !


(This is primarily a safety and liability issue – there must be a way to expel students from the course/lab, who, e.g., by non-compliance with safety regulations or by practical or theoretical incompetence, endanger themselves or others).

Missed midterm examinations can – at the discretion of the course instructor – be replaced by an ad hoc oral exam at a time and place of the course instructor’s choice.