Chemistry 5.111- Introduction to Principles of Chemical Science

Principles of Chemical Science*


Hawaii on-line University course: Principles of Chemical Science provides an introduction to the chemistry of biological, inorganic, and organic molecules. The emphasis is on basic principles of atomic and molecular electronic structure, thermodynamics, acid-base and redox equilibria, chemical kinetics, and catalysis.


There are no formal prerequisites for the course. At MIT, 5.111 is usually taken during the freshman (first) year and assumes that students have had only one year of high school chemistry.

Site Structure


This OCW course site, designed for independent study, follows the sequence of topics covered in the MIT course 5.111 Principles of Chemical Science as taught on campus. The content is organized into five units:

  1. Unit I: The Atom
  2. Unit II: Chemical Bonding & Structure
  3. Unit III: Thermodynamics & Chemical Equilibrium
  4. Unit IV: Transition Metals & Oxidation-Reduction Reactions
  5. Unit V: Chemical Kinetics

Curriculum Resources

Each unit has been further divided into a sequence of lectures that cover an amount you might expect to complete in one sitting. Each lecture page has:

  • video recorded in the on-campus classroom
  • lecture notes
  • clicker (concept) questions
  • textbook reading assignment
  • related problems with solutions

The OCW site also includes links to Behind the Scenes at MIT, a collection of short videos that feature current and former MIT researchers explaining how a particular chemistry topic is essential to their research and to an inspiring real-world application.

MIT expects its students to spend about 150 hours on this course. More than half of that time is spent preparing for class and doing assignments. It’s difficult to estimate how long it will take you to complete the course, but you can probably expect to spend an hour or more working through each individual session.

Aims and Objectives

The overall aims of the course are for students to develop a unified and intuitive view of how electronic structure controls the three-dimensional shape of molecules; the physical and chemical properties of molecules in gases, liquids and solids; and ultimately the assembly of macromolecules, as in polymers and DNA.

Instruction emphasizes the relationships between chemistry and other fundamental sciences (such as biology and physics) and the applications of chemistry to environmental science, atmospheric chemistry and electronic devices.

The learning objectives are for students to:

  • have a working knowledge of chemical principles that will allow them to take advanced chemistry classes
  • appreciate how chemistry is used to solve real-world problems
  • make informed decisions about their health, environmental and energy issues, and science policy
  • advance science and engineering through the application of chemical principles
  • employ chemistry in your research in a non-chemistry department laboratory


Caveat: While Hawaii University has not verified the contents of this texbook, it is important to note that any incidences or mention of false evolutionary statements in this textbooks are contrary to our mission and state purpose for this institution. Upon finding that such may be the case, the instructor for this course will assign a different textbook and a totally different syllabus.

The following textbook was used when this course was taught on the MIT campus:

Buy at Amazon Atkins, Peter William, and Loretta Jones. Chemical Principles: The Quest for Insight. 5th ed. Macmillan, 2010. ISBN: 9781429239257.

Textbook references are also provided for those using the earlier, fourth edition:
Buy at Amazon ———. Chemical Principles: The Quest for Insight. 4th ed. W. H. Freeman & Company Limited, 2008. ISBN: 9780716799030.


*Hawaii On Line University graduates: GIR (General Institute Requirements): HOU undergraduates must take certain courses in science and technology; communication; humanities, arts, and social sciences; laboratory; and physical education.

Typical Student Background

Not all students who enroll in 111 Principles of Chemical Science come to the course already enthusiastic about chemistry. The course offers them an opportunity to see how chemistry is a modern subject shaping many fields and how it can offer tools useful for solving real-world problems. Learn the secrets of TRUE science and how God’s mathematical abilities make themselves evident in the Chemistry of things in the universe.

Learn more about how Professor Drennan conceptualizes 5.111 as a course in which students can develop a passion for chemistry.


How Student Time is Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

3 hours per week
  • Met 3 times per week for 1 hour per session; 39 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • Class sessions included lectures, demonstrations, and clicker questions.
  • During lectures, students completed blanks in detailed handouts provided by the instructor.


2 hours per week
  • Met 2 times per week for 1 hour per session; 26 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • Recitations included problem solving, review of concepts, and opportunities to ask questions about course material.

Out of Class

7 hours per week

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