Curriculum Overview 

Chemistry is the study of matter and the changes it undergoes and, as such, is essential to the study and understanding of physical, geological and biological phenomena. Because of its place among the sciences, chemistry is inherently interdisciplinary and attracts students to its study from a broad range of related interests.

The chemistry major at Franklin & Marshall College is led by faculty who are committed to helping the student “learn how to learn.” In addition to acquiring an understanding of the basic concepts of chemistry, majors hone the skills necessary for critical and analytical thinking and develop their ability to communicate observations and discoveries through the printed and spoken word.

Through coursework, chemistry majors gain an understanding of transformations and reactions at the atomic, molecular and macromolecular scales, the energetics associated with those changes and the analytical techniques used to study them. By involvement in the ongoing research of chemistry faculty members, students have extraordinary opportunities to study new reactions and properties of matter and to make original contributions to the literature. As a consequence, knowledge gained from coursework is deepened and enriched by the research experience, which immerses the student in the methodology of scientific discovery and the creative process. The confidence and independence engendered by the chemistry major allow students to pursue a wide variety of opportunities beyond graduation.

A major in Chemistry consists of 15 course credits, including at least 10 course credits in chemistry. Required courses are:

CHM 111, 112, 211, 212, 221, 222, 321.

PHY 111, 112; MAT 109, 110.

The chemistry major may be completed with the required courses and the following additional courses:

At least one course selected from CHM 322 or CHM 351.

One credit in Chemistry numbered 410–479.

Two additional course credits in chemistry, or one additional credit in chemistry and one course credit outside chemistry approved by the department. Approved courses outside of chemistry include BIO 305; ENE/GEO 321; PHY 222, 223.

CHM 390 or 490 is encouraged but no more than one such course credit may be applied toward the requirements for the major.

A Biochemistry track in the chemistry major includes Introductory Biochemistry (CHM 351) and Advanced Biochemistry (CHM 451). A student wishing to pursue biochemistry at the graduate level should also take several biology courses and consult with chemistry faculty about their plans.

If a student is interested in completing the American Chemical Society (ACS) certified major in Chemistry, the student must complete major as described above with the following stipulations: completion of both CHM 322 and CHM 351 and a research experience (CHM 390, 490, or summer research). Full details of the requirements should be discussed with the Chair and can be found online:

A minor in Chemistry requires CHM 111 and 112 plus four additional chemistry credits (including no more than one credit of CHM 390 or 490).

To be considered for Honors in chemistry the student must be nominated by the research mentor on the basis of work done in the CHM 490 and may include research completed during the summer preceding the senior year. Criteria to be met include an unusual commitment of time and effort, results that are publishable and are likely to have been presented at a scientific meeting, independent contributions to the project from the student, a well-written thesis that conforms to departmental guidelines and a successful defense of the project before a faculty committee.

Chemistry Majors regularly engage in study abroad as part of their college experience. Over the past decade, students have studied at the following institutions: University of Strathclyde, Scotland; Trinity College, Ireland; University of Sheffield, England; University of New South Wales, Australia; University of Grenoble, France; Lancaster University, England; Oxford University, England; University of Bristol, England. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Courses Offered


A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement.

111. General Chemistry I: The Structure and Composition of Matter. (N)

Designed both as a background for further courses in chemistry and as a terminal course for interested non-science students. Atomic structure, chemical bonding, molecular structure, intermolecular forces and the structure of matter in bulk. Relationship between properties and structure stressed throughout. Laboratory work deals with the separation and identification of substances. Offered every Fall.    

Brandt, Brewer, Dairo, Hess, Moog, Morford, Phillips-Piro, Plass

112. General Chemistry II: Chemical Reactions. (N)

The principles underlying chemical transformations: stoichiometry; rates of reaction; equilibrium, metathetical, acid-base and oxidation-reduction reactions. Laboratory work dealing with the separation and identification of substances. Prerequisite: CHM 111. Offered every Spring.        

Brandt, Dairo, Davis, Hess, Moog, Phillips-Piro, Plass

211. Organic Chemistry I: Structure, Rates and Mechanisms. (N)

Structure and bonding principles associated with carbon compounds, fundamental reaction types with emphasis upon mechanisms. Structure determination based on theory and application of infrared spectroscopy, proton and carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Laboratory work includes separation, identification and synthesis of compounds, and spectroscopic analyses. Prerequisite: CHM 112. Offered every Fall.        

Fenlon, Leber, Van Arman

212. Organic Chemistry II: Reactions of Carbon Compounds. (N)

Reactions of carbon compounds as a function of their molecular structures with emphasis on mechanisms and the use of these reactions in synthesis of carbon compounds. Laboratory work includes analysis and synthesis of various compounds, and spectroscopic analyses, Prerequisite: CHM 211. Offered every Spring.        

Fenlon, Leber, Van Arman

221. Chemical Analysis. (N)

Fundamental principles of chemical analysis including solution equilibria, acid-base theory, complexation reactions and electrochemistry. Sampling and experimental design; interpretation and analysis of experimental results. Laboratory work includes introduction to common instrumental methods with applications drawn from fields such as biochemistry, environmental chemistry, forensic chemistry and pharmaceutical analysis. Prerequisite: CHM 112. Offered every Spring.        


222. Inorganic Chemistry: Structure and Stability. (N)

Periodic relationships and acid-base concepts. Structure, bonding, reactions, and stability of main group and transition metal compounds, including use of group theory. Laboratory work involving the synthesis and characterization of inorganic compounds. Prerequisite CHM 211 or permission of instructor. Offered every Fall.    


321. Thermodynamics and Kinetics. (N)

Kinetic molecular theory of gases. Properties of real and ideal gases. Kinetics and mechanisms of reactions; theories of reaction rate. The laws of thermodynamics, spontaneity and equilibrium, systems of variable composition, phase equilibria, phase diagrams. Ideal solutions and colligative properties. Laboratory work required. Prerequisites: CHM 112, MAT 110, PHY 111 (or PHY111 may be a corequisite with permission of instructor). Offered every Fall.    


322. Structure and Bonding. (N)

An introduction to quantum chemistry and spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, including bonding theories. Applications of molecular modeling and group theory to atomic and molecular structure and spectroscopy. Laboratory work required. Prerequisites CHM 222, MAT 110, PHY 112 (or PHY112 may be a corequisite with permission of instructor). Offered every Spring.    


323. Medicinal Chemistry. (half-course)

The mechanism of action of several classes of drugs. The discovery (e.g., natural products, rational design, combinatorial chemistry), structure-activity relationships, and synthesis of drugs will be covered. The role of the FDA, ethical issues, and economic pressures in relation to drug pricing, approval, and manufacture will be discussed (no lab). Prerequisite: CHM212. This course will likely be offered in Spring 2019.    


351. Introductory Biochemistry. (N)

Chemical principles apply to life-sustaining processes in a variety of biological systems. Protein and nucleic acid structure, how these molecules are synthesized by the cell, and the reactions they perform or undergo. The chemical transformations afforded by organic and inorganic small molecule cofactors utilized by biological molecules in the cell. Required laboratory work will cover a variety of biomechanical techniques including protein expression, purification, kinetics, and structure analysis. Prerequisite: CHM 212. Offered every Fall.     


370–379. Topics in Chemistry.

Study of specialized areas of chemistry.     


390. Directed Studies of Chemical Problems.

Directed study of a one-semester project. Permission of instructor and chairperson required. A student may not use this course to satisfy a major requirement in addition to CHM 490.    


412. Materials Chemistry.

 Relationships between the properties of technological devices and their component materials in a chemical context. Experimental characterization of device and material properties. Coursework will require reading the primary literature. Open only to senior chemistry majors. Prerequisites: CHM 212, CHM222, CHM 321, CHM 322 (or CHM 322 may be a co-requisite with permission of instructor).     Offered Spring 2018.      


451. Advanced Biochemistry.

How do interactions among atoms result in a living organism? How does molecular organization lead to biological organization? This course will focus on the molecular-level detail of biological interactions. Use of the primary scientific literature, culminating in a research proposal addressing a contemporary research question. The folding and three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules, molecular recognition, affinity and selectivity of binding, catalysis by enzymes and biomimetic design. The capabilities and limitations of modern experimental tools will be a theme throughout. Prerequisites: CHM 321, CHM 212 and either CHM 351 or BIO 334. Open to senior chemistry majors and senior BMB majors. Offered every Spring.     


490. Independent Study.

Independent study extending over two semesters. Course credit earned each semester. Permission of instructor and chairperson required. A student may not use this course to satisfy a major requirement in addition to CHM 390.