McMaster University
Course Descriptions Print E-mail


The Department of Chemistry offers graduate courses in the form of modules, which are short quarter courses of approximately six week duration with 3 lectures per week. Approximately 20-25 different modules are offered every year in four sets, two in the Fall term (Sept - Dec) and two in the Winter term (Jan - Apr). The detailed course requirements for the MSc and PhD degrees are described in our General Regulations.

Brief Descriptions of All Graduate Modules

In the following list, modules marked with a (+) sign may be taken more than once for credit. Please refer to the List of Current Courses to see the selection of modules offered during the current academic year.

Prescribed Courses in Analytical Chemistry

Prescribed Courses in Inorganic Chemistry

Prescribed Courses in Organic Chemistry

Prescribed Courses in Physical Chemistry

Other Available Courses

Prescribed Courses in Analytical Chemistry

Chem 708. Analytical Separation Science (OFFERED - TERM 2)
The principles and applications of modern chromatographic separations, including the interfacing of separations techniques with spectroscopic and mass spectrometric detectors. This course will focus primarily on gas chromatography and liquid chromatography, recognizing that these methods are still the principal separation techniques used today. The course will also discuss recent developments in chromatographic methods. Since the majority of the students who will take this course are non-specialists in this area, the course will focus on practical applications with a lesser emphasis on detailed theoretical aspects of chromatographic processes. (Instructors: Britz-McKibbin)

Chem 711. Chemometrics (NOT OFFERED)
The aim of this module is to introduce some modern statistical methods in chemistry. In many cases, we have masses of data, but the main problem is analysing and understanding it. With spreadsheet programs and other accessible software, it is now possible to do this routinely. Topics to be covered will include data acquisition, experimental design, filtering and fitting data to mathematical models. The approach will be fairly simple and open to students without a lot of sophisticated mathematical background. (Instructor: Britz-McKibbin)

Chem 737. Mass spectrometry Instrumentation and Applications (NOT OFFERED)
This module covers the basic theory, operation and performance of mass spectrometry instrumentation, as well as brief discussions of selected applications. Both ionization (EI, CI, API, MALDI) and mass analysis (sector, quadrupole, ion trap, time-of-flight, FTICR) techniques are discussed. This module aims to provide the specialist and non-specialist student with the tools to choose the most appropriate mass spectrometric approach for their problems, understand the experiments, and interpret the results. (Instructor: Green)


Prescribed Courses in Inorganic Chemistry

Chem 716. Transition Metal Chemistry (NOT OFFERED)
This course is focused on the redox chemistry and solution electrochemistry of transition metal and f-block complexes. Specific topics for discussion include mixed valence compounds, radical and redox active ligands, stoichiometric organometallic reactivity involving redox chemistry, and catalysis involving redox reactivity. The section on electrochemistry will focus on the basic theory and techniques relevant to synthetic chemists.

Chem 717. Main Group Chemistry (NOT OFFERED) 
The course content varies from year to year and is meant to reflect current developments in the field. Among the topics considered are main-group clusters species, hetero- and homo-polyatomic chalcogenide cations and anions of groups 3 - 5, sulfur-nitrogen rings and cages, multiple bonding among the main-group elements, weakly coordinating anions of the main-group and noble-gas chemistry.  (Instructor: Schrobilgen

Chem 725. Group Theory (OFFERED - tERM 2) 
The principles of group theory and its application to atomic and molecular electronic structure. Basic Aspects: symmetry elements and operations; matrix representations; great orthogonality theorem; character tables; special groups. Techniques: reduction of representations; symmetry aspects of wave functions and quantum mechanical integrals; direct sum and direct product representations; projection operators; SALCs. Applications to Electronic Structure: atomic symmetry; angular momentum coupling; irreducible tensor methods; Wigner-Eckart theorem; p-MO theory; s- & p-treatments of small organic molecules; M.O. theory of organometallic compounds. The different instructors place emphasis on different applications of group theory in chemistry, such as molecular orbital theory of inorganic compounds, electronic spectroscopy, or vibrational spectroscopy. (Instructor: Vargas-Baca)

Chem 727. Symmetry, Physical Properties and Electronic Structure of Solids (NOT OFFERED) 
This module will focus on advanced aspects of symmetry and electronic structure and their relationship to the physical properties.Topics to be covered will include electronic instabilities and the associated symmetry-breaking phenomena. The module is primarily aimed at Chemistry students but may also be of interest to students in Physics or Materials Science. Basic knowledge of solid-state chemistry is expected but not a pre-requisite. (Instructor: Mozharivskyj)

Chem 730. X-Ray Theory (OFFERED TERM 2)
The study of single crystals, how they diffract X-rays, and how the diffraction patterns can be analyzed to provide the molecular and crystal structures of organic, organometallic, and inorganic solids. (Instructor: Mozharivskyj)

Chem 736. X-Ray Structure Determination (NOT OFFERED)
(pre-requisite: Chem 730)
This module will show the student how to determine the structure of an unknown compound (preferably from the student's own research) using single crystal X-ray diffraction methods, how to prepare a report for publication, and how to critically examine published structures. (Instructor: Britten)

Chem 743. Inorganic Problems (OFFERED - TERM 2) 
The NMR spectroscopy of the less common nuclides (excluding 1H, 2H, 13C, 31P, 19F) is treated. The factors influencing chemical shifts and coupling constants among heavy nuclides are discussed and illustrated. Special consideration is given to factors influencing the observation of quadrupolar nuclides and their couplings and to the interpretation of first and second order spectra arising from isotopomeric distributions in which spin-spin coupling is observed. (Instructor: Schrobilgen)

Prescribed Courses in Organic Chemistry

Chem 753. Organic Photochemistry (NOT OFFERED)
Techniques and Methods in Experimental Organic Photochemistry; cis,trans-Photoisomerization of Alkenes and Dienes; Inter- and Intramolecular Photoreactions of Aromatic Ketones; Photopericyclic Reactions; Photochemical Cycloaddition Reactions; The Di-pi-Methane Rearrangement; Photoinduced Electron Transfer Reactions. Prerequisite: Chem 780 - Molecular Photophysics. (Instructor: Leigh)

Chem 754. Physical Organic Chemistry (NOT OFFERED) 
An introduction to basic concepts in physical organic chemistry and the study of organic reaction mechanisms: kinetics and thermodynamics; thermochemistry; isotope effects; acid/base catalysis; linear free energy relationships. (Instructor: Leigh)

Chem 758. Bio-organic Chemistry (+) (NOT OFFERED)
The Chemistry of Natural Products is described with particular emphasis on the biosynthetic pathways used by cells to assemble this large group of organic compounds. The course is offered in two parts, either of which may be taken individually. Students should be aware, however, that both parts should be taken in order to cover the field comprehensively. Students taking a second credit in this course may be evaluated by a modified method from those who take the course for the first credit. The two parts will normally be offered in alternating years. Part A covers an introduction to natural products and their biosynthesis, as well as the techniques used to determine biosynthetic pathways experimentally. Metabolites derived from acetate are then examined. These include the fatty acids, prostaglandins and the arachidonic acid cascade, the polyketides and the terpenoids and steroids. Part B covers the same introductory material and techniques section as for Part A. Metabolites from the shikimic acid pathway, those derived from amino acids including penicillins, the alkaloids, and porphyrins including vitamin B-12 will then be examined. (Instructor: Harrison)

Chem 760. Principles of Organic Synthesis (NOT OFFERED)
Introduction to synthesis; definitions, typical reagents, functional group interconversions; simple examples. Carbon-carbon bond forming processes; retrosynthesis and acceptor-donor approach. Examples of syntheses employing different strategies for molecules of medium complexity. (Instructor: McNulty)

Chem 765. Polymer (NOT OFFERED)
This course focuses on living polymerizations, including ionic polymerizations as well as living radical polymerizations such as Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization (ATRP) and Stable Free Radical Polymerization (SFRP). It also includes aspects of polymerizations in suspended phases and in interfacial systems. (Instructor: Stover)

Prescribed Courses in Physical Chemistry

Chem 703. Numerical Methods and Computational Chemistry (NOT OFFERED)
This course introduces problems of computational chemistry and their solution via numerical methods. Simple programming is used to implement these solutions. Simulation of molecular dynamics, optimization of molecular geometries, and Hamiltonian diagonalization are treated. (Instructor: Dumont)

Chem 749. Introduction to Biomolecular NMR (NOT OFFERED)

The goal of this module is to provide the basic conceptual tools necessary to read critically the current literature in biomolecular NMR. A basic understanding of one and two-dimensional NMR is assumed. This module will focus on the product operator formalism analysis of the most common multinuclear 2D and 3D NMR pulse sequences used for investigating biomolecules in solution, particularly proteins. After this course, students will be able to implement published experiments and/or to design pulse sequences for their own research. The focus is on macromolecules in solution, but it will also include experiments useful for small ligands. (Instructor: Melacini)

Chem 757. Applications of Lab-on-a-Chip Devices (NOT OFFERED)
Lab-on-a-chip (LOC) devices are miniaturized systems that provide the ability to synthesize, process, separate, detect & quantify compounds (eg small molecules, biomolecules, or cells) of interest using small volumes. These devices typically convey the advantages that small amounts of reagents are consumed & can lead to high sensitivity, selectivity & fast response times in analytical applications. Thus, LOC devices have garnered significant attention for analytical separations, sensors & point of care diagnotics.  The main objective of the course is to provide an overview of LOC technology, from the design & fabrication of microfluidic devices to elements used for processing samples within the LOC devices & integrated detectors that enable the quantitative measurement of analyte levels in the sample. The course will focus on current applications & innovative techniques arising from LOC technology. The course will also involve the review of current literature & the discussion of scientific papers in a discussion panel format, where the discussion leader will introduce the manuscript & guide the discussion & critique of the scientific content & LOC technology. (Instructor: Moran-Mirabal)

Chem 770. Molecular Electronic Structure Theory (OFFERED - TERM 2)
Modern theoretical and computational approaches to the electronic structure problem will be presented. Topics will include wave-functional based methods (Hartree Fock, Configuration Interaction, Coupled Cluster, Many-Body (a.k.a. Moller-Plesset) Perburbation Theory), denisity-functional theory, and density-matrix based approaches. At the end of this course, students should be able to understand journal articles in quantum chemistry. (Instructor: Ayers)

Chem 776. Spectroscopy (NOT OFFERED)
Experimental methods to probe the kinetics of surface reactions, including adsorption/desorption, and the theoretical interpretation of these results. (Instructor:  Hitchcock)

Chem 778. Solid State Surface Science (NOT OFFERED)
This module deals with the theoretical and experimental aspects of modern techniques for the characterization of the goa-solid interface. Several long range crystallographic and short range spectroscopic techniques will be discussed, selected from a list that includes LEED, AES, XPS, E:S, XAS, ion scattering and Rutherford backscattering. (Instructor: Kruse)

Other Available Courses

Chem 740. Basic Theory of NMR (NOT OFFERED)

An introduction to the concepts and applications of pulsed Fourier transform nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The module begins with a review of the basic NMR experiment and then proceeds to a description of the pulsed NMR technique and the use of Fourier transformation to generate the spectrum. The next section deals with a general description of the pulse NMR spectrometer and the parameters used in data acquisition and processing. The final section covers more traditional topics dealing with 1H and 13C chemical shifts, coupling constants and relaxation times with the emphasis on the structural information these parameters provide. This section will also illustrate some of the essential one-dimensional techniques used in analyzing NMR spectra (T1 measurements, spin decoupling, NOE difference spectra and 13C spectral editing). (Instructor: Berno)

Chem 799. Special Topics



The following modules are offered from time-to-time as student demand dictates. These are techniques-oriented modules for which no formal credit is offered.

  • Modern Techniques in the Handling of Air-sensitive Compounds
  • Rudimentary Glassblowing