8 ECTS credits
216 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 1021447ANR for all students in the 1st semester at a (A) Bachelor - preliminary level.

1st semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method
Grading (scale from 0 to 20)
Can retake in second session
Enrollment Requirements
Om een inschrijving te kunnen nemen voor 'Algemene en anorganische chemie' moet met ingeschreven of geslaagd zijn voor 'Wiskunde' en voor 'Algemene en anorganische chemie practicum'.
Taught in
Faculteit Geneeskunde en Farmacie
Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences
Educational team
Hendrika Jaspers
Kenno Vanommeslaeghe (course titular)
Anissa El Arfani
Linus Donvil
Jeremy De Plecker
Jordy Peeters
Julie Vandewalle
Activities and contact hours

50 contact hours Lecture
30 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
Course Content


The 1st year Ba curriculum in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PS) contains 4 basic chemistry courses:

  • General and Inorganic Chemistry (1st semester)
  • General and Inorganic Chemistry - Practicals (1st semester)
  • Organic Chemistry - Theory and Practicals (2nd semester)
  • Advanced Chemistry (2nd semester)

The encompassing goal of these 4 courses is to learn/train the necessary chemical background, analytical skills and scientific attitude to (1) be prepared for the further curriculum PS and (2) be able to function successfully in the PS major's diverse prospective jobs and lines of research. Therefore, the course is more focused on developing a deep intuitive understanding of a number of core chemistry concepts than on enumerating at length all possible applications of those concepts and the special points of attention that play a role in these applications. Nevertheless, applications that are of great pharmaceutical importance are mentioned as illustrations where possible. More generally, links to other disciplines are accentuated so that Chemistry can function as a bridge between Physics and Biology, among others. Special attention is also paid to the limits of the applicability of the relevant mathematical relationships as well as the limits of current scientific knowledge. This way, the student is encouraged to question the correctness of scientific results at all times, and more generally to approach given "facts" with a critical mind.


The "General and Inorganic Chemistry" course is divided into 2 modules. In the module "Chemical Calculations", the student learns to perform common chemical calculations and solve common problems. In the next module "Physical Chemistry for the Health Sciences", the student gains understanding of chemical relationships in the observable world, and how these are caused by interactions between (non-observable) atoms and molecules.


Chemical calculations

The focus of this part lies very pragmatically on being able to perform common and basic chemical calculations that are broadly applied in diverse disciplines that are taught later in the curriculum, as well as in biomedical practice. The underlying physics is not yet explored in depth; this happens in the next part, "Physical Chemistry for the Health Sciences". Rather, the emphasis lies fully on the deep understanding of the quantitative and analytical aspects of the chemical phenomena being studied, so that the student gains the ability to rapidly formulate a solution to any chemical problem that concerns these phenomena. Toward this goal, elaborate guided exercises are held about this part. By starting with this, the student is prepared in time for the calculations that are needed in the different exercise sessions and practicals in the 1st year Bachelor in PS. This part is also the subject of the test that is taken roughly halfway the first semester.


  • Preface: position of Chemistry within the sciences; required background and additional study material
  • Matter and phases
  • Nomenclature of inorganic compounds
  • Fundamental laws of chemical reactions, atomic theory, elements
  • Quantity of matter, mass and expressions of concentration
  • Equilibration of redox equations
  • Calculations with chemical equilibria
  • Acid-base equilibria in watery solution
  • Acid-base titrations
  • Solubility equilibria of salts

Physical Chemistry for the Health Sciences

This part starts with a description of matter at atomic level. Building upon this foundation, the student systematically discovers relationships that describe the observable world sufficiently accurately to be practically useful.


  • Atomic structure and the periodic table
  • The chemical bond
  • Non-covalent interactions
  • Chemical thermodynamics
  • Reaction kinetics
  • Electrochemistry and galvanic cells
  • Interactions and organisation of solutes in watery solution

Guided exercises

The guided exercises are held in groups of roughly 25 students. Here, the concepts from the lectures are applied to more concrete chemical questions. The main aim of the guided exercises is to train problem solving skills in the context of the theory outlined above. Indeed, the ability to "think chemically" determines success in applying the knowledge from this course to later courses and professional outcomes (and accordingly, it plays an important role in the exam). Moreover, performing exercises with chemical concepts gives the student the opportunity to verify whether he/she has correctly processed the subject matter from the lectures.

Course material
Course text (Required) : Algemene en Anorganische Chemie - Biomedische chemie, MODULE 1 Chemisch Rekenen - deel 1, H. Jaspers A. Boyen, VUB, 2220170008851, 2021
Course text (Required) : Fysische Chemie voor de Gezondheidswetenschappen, Volume 1, K. Vanommeslaeghe, VUB, 2220170005980, 2018
Practical course material (Recommended) : Bouwdoosje voor de constructie van molecuulmodellen, Product: Z119660: cochranes molecular models, VUB, 9781090173843
Handbook (Recommended) : Chemical Principles, The Quest for Insight, P. W. Atkins, L. Jones, L. Lavermath, 7de, W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd, 9781319154196, 2016
Handbook (Recommended) : Chemistry, The Central Science, T. E. Brown, H. E. LeMay, B. E. Bursten, C. Murphy, P. Woodward, M. E. Stolzfus, 14de, Pearson Education Limited, 9781292221229, 2017
Course text (Required) : Algemene en Anorganische Chemie - Biomedische chemie, MODULE 1 Chemisch Rekenen - deel 2, H. Jaspers, A. Boyen, VUB, 2220170008929, 2021
Additional info

The aforementioned volumes include all relevant tables and representative series of exercises from which the problems treated during the seminars are chosen. They also contain the numerical solutions to the problems and detailed solutions for selected problems, along with hints for solving select problems.

The recommended volumes can be viewed or loaned at the Medical Library. Molecular Model Building Sets (for the study of molecular geometry, polarity,...) can be used locally at the Medical Library.

The students are given access to software packages for 2D and 3D visualisation of organic molecules.

Learning Outcomes

General Competences

  • The student has a deep intuitive understanding of core concepts in chemistry (further elaborated below).
  • The student approaches given facts and scientific results with a critical mind.
  • The student understands how the same laws and relationships that govern the behaviour of dead matter also lie at the foundation of structures and processes in living organisms.
  • The student can easily give/write down the name/formula of compounds. She/he can compose chemical equations and use these in stoichiometric calculations.
  • The student has a thorough understanding of a number of common ways to express the composition of a mixture, and can interconvert these different expressions of concentration.
  • The student can fully equilibrate half-equations and use these to correctly compose redox equations.
  • The student understands chemical equilibria sufficiently to calculate the situation at equilibrium from an equilibrium constant and vice versa. She/he can also describe the different equilibria that occur side-by-side in a complex medium in terms of equilibrium constants and conditions.
  • The student can calculate the acidity of solutions, and is familiar with the properties of buffers; he/she can prepare a buffer that complies with given specifications.
  • The student has insight into the structure if the atom and the energetic justification for the formation of bonds. He or she can use this insight to explain the properties thereof.
  • The student is familiar with Lewis structures and the underlying theory. She or he understands the concepts of resonance and resonance energy, and can write resonance structures and estimate their relative weights qualitatively where applicable.
  • The student understands which factors determine the strength of non-covalent interactions and can differentiate their different types; she/he also understands how they can give rise to spontaneous assembly into macroscopic structures.
  • The student can apply the aforementioned insights in chemical bonds and non-covalent interactions to explain the chemical and physical properties of inorganic and organic compounds.
  • The student understands the criteria for spontaneity of chemical reactions and can infer from thermodynamic data whether or not a reaction will take place. He/she can calculate how much energy can be gained from a chemical process.
  • The student understands how different factors influence the rate of a reaction; she/he is familiar with the concepts reaction mechanism and rate-limiting step and can perform calculations involving 0th, 1st and 2nd order kinetics.
  • The student understands how ions are stabilised in a lattice and in solution. She or he understands how the hydrophobic effect can be explained by a thermodynamical interpretation of non-covalent interactions, and understands the consequences thereof for the organisation of solutes in watery environment.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Written Exam determines 100% of the final mark.

Within the Written Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Written exam with a relative weight of 100 which comprises 100% of the final mark.

Additional info regarding evaluation

Note: although the chapters "Acid-Base equilibria", "Acid-Base titrations" and "Solubility equilibria of saltscan be found in the syllabus "Chemical Calculations", they belong with "Physical Chemistry for the Health Sciences" for all practical intents and purposes, including tests and the calculation of grades.

  • Partial grades in first session:
    • Roughly halfway the first semester, a mandatory test is taken about "Chemical Calculations" (except "Acid-Base equilibria", "Acid-Base titrations" and "Solubility equilibria of salts"). A passing grade for this part counts towards the final grade. A non-passing grade is considered null and void and can under no circumstances counts towards the final grade.
    • In the exam period following the first semester, the finals take place. The students answers questions about "Physical Chemistry for the Health Sciences" (including "Acid-Base equilibria", "Acid-Base titrations" and "Solubility equilibria of salts"). The test of the part "Chemical Calculations" can also be re-taken during this exam period (mainly for the benefit of the students who did not get a passing grade for this part).
    • All aforementioned tests are written and consist largely of open questions (theory and exercises) that evaluate knowledge and insight into the subject matter. A limited number of multiple choice questions may be included, following the same principles.
  • The final grade is the weighted average of "Chemical Calculations" (35%) and "Physical Chemistry for the Health Sciences" (65%). Warning! If a partial grade was lower than 8.00/20, the final grade cannot be higher than 8.00/20!
  • Partial grades ≥ 9.50/20 are transferred to the 2nd session.
  • Partial grades ≥ 9.50/20 are transferred to the next academic year.
Allowed unsatisfactory mark
The supplementary Teaching and Examination Regulations of your faculty stipulate whether an allowed unsatisfactory mark for this programme unit is permitted.

Academic context

This offer is part of the following study plans:
Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences: default (only offered in Dutch)
Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences: Initial track (only offered in Dutch)