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Discovering chemistry

Free statement of participation on completion
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Discovering chemistry

Chemistry lies at the centre of our modern life, playing a part in areas as diverse as the development of new drugs and materials, analysing our environment through to more mundane activities such as washing your clothes and making your tea. But to truly understand the role chemistry plays you need to have a sound grasp of a number of fundamental principles.

This free course, Discovering chemistry, introduces you to some of these concepts, beginning with the idea that everything that you can see is made of building blocks called atoms. This leads on to a look at the chemical elements and how they are arranged in the Periodic Table, enabling chemists to rationalise patterns in their chemical and physical behaviour.

Next you will consider chemical reactions, specifically how atoms combine with other atoms to form molecules, and how molecules combine with other atoms or molecules to form bigger molecules. You will meet simple (tried and tested) theories to explain the bonding in molecules and at how their shapes may be explained, and indeed predicted. And in a wider sense you’ll be looking at why reactions happen at all and how fast they go.

This is also a beginner’s level course in the language of the chemist; you’ll learn about symbols, formulas and how chemical equations which represent reactions are constructed. Finally you will see how chemists count atoms and molecules, essential for making up solutions of a known concentration in order to carry out a reaction, or performing a chemical analysis.

This OpenLearn science course is produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education, the educational arm of The Exilarch's Foundation.

Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they're a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation - which also displays your Open University badge.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey. Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our optional end-of-course survey. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

This course is endorsed by the CPD Standards Office .  It can be used to provide evidence of continuing professional development but is not accredited learning. We are unable to provide formal learner verification services for participation in our open online courses, which are provided freely by The Open University as self-directed CPD.  

Anyone wishing to provide evidence of their enrolment on this course is able to do so by sharing their Activity Record on their OpenLearn Profile, which is available before completion of the course and earning of the Statement of Participation.

Discovering chemistry

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • explain what is meant by isotopes, atomic numbers and mass numbers of the atoms of chemical elements
  • indicate ways in which the chemical periodicity represented by the Periodic Table is reflected in the electronic structure of atoms
  • explain how the molecular structure of chemical compounds is linked to their macroscopic properties
  • construct balanced chemical equations for reactions
  • use the Lewis structures of some simple chemical substances to illustrate the ideas of the octet rule, the electron-pair bond, and rationalise the three-dimensional structure of molecules.

First Published: 26/01/2018

Updated: 26/03/2020

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