00130 - General and Inorganic Chemistry

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Quality education Affordable and clean energy Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows the principles of General Chemistry and understands the relationship between structure and chemical-physical properties; he/she can distinguish between types of different reactions, can write and balance chemical reactions, knows the principles of thermodynamics, chemical kinetics and electrochemistry, and is able to explain phenomena such as the corrosion of metals.

Course contents


1.1 The chemical approach to the study of Nature

Chemistry, central science - The language of chemistry - Physical and chemical transformations - Composition of atoms, atomic and mass numbers, isotopes

1.2 The atomic and molecular nature of matter

Atomic weight - Chemical formulas - Molecular formula and minimal formula - The mole - Molar mass - Exercises

1.3 Atomic structure

Model of the hydrogen atom - Atomic orbitals, quantum numbers, spin - Orbitals in polyelectronic atoms - Electronic configurations of the elements - Periodic properties and relationship with electronic configurations

1.4 The chemical bond

General concepts - Covalent bond: Lewis formulas, molecular geometry (VSEPR model), bond polarization, hybrid orbitals, outline of molecular orbitals - Ionic bond: lattice energy and properties of ionic compounds - Metallic bond - Intermolecular forces: Van der Waals interactions, hydrogen bond

1.5 Aggregation states

Properties of gases, liquids and solids - Gases: equation of state of ideal gases, gas mixtures - Liquids: evaporation and vapor pressure - Crystalline and anisotropic solids - Allotropic forms - State diagrams and phase changes


2.1 Chemical reactions

Chemical equations and balancing - Limiting reagent - Oxidation number and redox reactions - Nomenclature of binary compounds - General properties of oxides, hydrides, hydroxides and salts - Exercises

2.2 Chemical thermodynamics

Internal energy, heat and work - The first law of thermodynamics - Enthalpy and entropy - The second law of thermodynamics - Free energy and spontaneity of reactions - Calculation of reaction enthalpy and free energy

2.3 Solutions

Properties and preparation of a solution - Expressions of concentration - Colligative properties: lowering of vapor pressure, depression of freezing point, elevation of boiling point, osmotic pressure - Exercises

2.4 The chemical equilibrium

Gas phase and heterogeneous equilibria - Equilibrium constant and reaction quotient - Effect of chemical and physical parameters on equilibrium; Le Chatelier's principle - Thermodynamic interpretation of equilibrium: relationship between deltaG° and K - Exercises

2.5 Acids and bases in aqueous solution

Bronsted and Lowry theory; conjugated acids and bases - Self-dissociation of water - pH - Strong and weak acids and bases - Degree of dissociation - Polyprotic acids - Hydrolysis - Buffer solutions - Titrations - Exercises

2.6 Solubility equilibria

Poorly soluble salts - Kps and solubility - Precipitation - Common ion effect - Exercises

2.7 Electrochemistry

Redox reactions and electricity - Galvanic cells: electromotive force, reduction potentials, Nernst equation - Electrolytic cells - Corrosion of metals

2.8 Chemical kinetics

Reaction rate - Kinetic equation - Reaction mechanism - Arrhenius law - Activation energy - Homogeneous, heterogeneous and enzymatic catalysis - Stability and inertness of a chemical system


Any textbook of general/basic chemistry at the university level. A few suggestions among many:

R. Chang, K. Goldsby, General Chemistry, McGraw Hill

P. M. S. Silberberg, Chemistry, McGraw Hill

S. S. Zumdahl, Chemistry, Cengage

Teaching methods

Classroom lectures with exercise on numeric problems about the topics explained. Lectures are supported by powerpoint presentations and use of blackboard.

If time is available, themes of current or particular interest (e.g. technological), related to the topics covered in the course, will be discussed.

It should be emphasized that attending classes regularly is of utmost importance to make the most of the course and to facilitate the preparation to the exam.

Assessment methods

The acquisition of the learning outcomes is ascertained by means of a written test comprising answers to questions and solution of numeric problems. The test must be undertaken without the support of notes or textbooks. The periodic table and fundamental constants provided together with the course slides can be used. Each student should bring a scientific calculator. A time of one hour is assigned for the test.

The written test consists of:

  • eight multiple-choice (4 options) questions on theory, covering all the topics presented in the teaching units;
  • four numerical problems, each related to a different topic among the following ones: atomic weight and mole, balancing of chemical reactions and related stoichiometry calculations, limiting reagent, solution concentration, colligative properties, determination of pH of strong and weak acids or bases, solubility.

Attribution of marks:

  • multiple choice questions: correct answer, 2; wrong answer, -1; no answer, 0;
  • numerical problems: correct answer, 4; wrong or missing answer, 0.

The maximum score of the test is 32, corresponding to 30 cum laude; a score of at least 18 in the written test is required to pass the exam.

The mark of the final test determines the grade of the exam; no partial tests during the progress of the course are performed.

The student can choose to undertake an optional oral exam, whose outcome will contribute to determining the final grade. The optional oral exam can only be undertaken if the written test has been passed.

The exam (both the written test and the oral exam) can be undertaken in english. Students who would like to take advantage of this possibility must send a written request (email) to the professor at least one week in advance.

Teaching tools

The slides used in the lectures are made available as PDF files in the virtuale.unibo.it [https://virtuale.unibo.it/] web site before the course begins. In order to profitably follow the lectures, students are invited to bring to class a printed copy of the slides.

The following items are also available in the course archive:

  • Periodic table and fundamental constants (to be used at the exam)
  • Text of problems and exercises – some with solution – for self-evaluation and training to the written test;
  • A frequently asked questions file, wherein students can find all the practical information necessary to consciously follow the course and undertake the final exam.

Office hours

See the website of Rita Mazzoni