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CHEM204 Environmental Chemistry

Chemistry of the lithosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. Fate, transport, and biogeochemical cycling of inorganic and organic chemicals among the compartments of the Earth.

CHEM 204 focuses on key concepts and techniques used in environmental chemistry with modules focused on the chemistry of the lithosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. The concepts learned in these modules are then used to explore chemical oceanography and global biogeochemical cycles, as well as the transport and distribution of organic contaminants in the environment. CHEM 204 has been designed for non-chemistry majors interested in underpinning their major subjects with an increased understanding of chemistry in the environment.

Paper title Environmental Chemistry
Paper code CHEM204
Subject Chemistry
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,038.45
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,492.80

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CHEM 191 or CHEM 111
CHEM 304
Schedule C
(i) CHEM 204 is taught as a dual-level paper with CHEM 304 (ii) CHEM 204 cannot be used by chemistry majors to satisfy first- and second-year chemistry point requirements.
Dr Christina McGraw
Tel 64 3 479 7907
Location: Science II, 3n13
Teaching staff
Course Co-ordinator: Dr Christina McGraw<
Professor Russell Frew
Paper Structure
  • Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Chemistry of the Lithosphere
  • Chemistry of the Atmosphere
  • Chemistry of the Hydrosphere
  • Waste Water
  • Organic Contaminants
  • Project Design
Teaching Arrangements
Lecture Course: 33 lectures and five tutorials (one each for modules on Lithosphere, Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Organic Contaminants and Waste Water)

Laboratory Course: 11 laboratory sessions (4 hours each), divided into two parts: assigned laboratory experiments (weeks 2-7) and guided practical project (weeks 8-12) with associated report.
Highly Recommended:
Environmental Chemistry: A Global Perspective, G. van Loon and S. Duffy (3rd Edition) (2011) Oxford University Press: Oxford.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Understand the chemical formation of soils and their chemical properties
  • Understand the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere
  • Perform calculations important to atmospheric chemistry
  • Understand the physical and chemical properties of water
  • Understand pE/pH diagrams and their use in aquatic chemistry
  • Understanding of the chemical characteristics of various water types and the treatment of wastewater
  • Learn to create and use computer models for biogeochemical cycling
  • Learn how to use partition coefficients in predicting and understanding chemical behaviour in the environment
  • Understand bioaccumulation and biomagnification and perform relevant calculations
  • Be proficient in the use of basic statistical approaches common in environmental chemistry
  • Gain laboratory skills needed for common methods of quantifying chemicals in environmental matrices
  • Gain skills for collecting samples in the environment and designing a sampling protocol

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
Tuesday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
P1 Monday 14:00-17:50 29-34, 36-41