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CHEM304 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 304 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.

Paper title Environmental Chemistry
Paper code CHEM304
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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18 200-level CHEM points
CHEM 204
Recommended Preparation
CHEM 201
Schedule C
This is an important paper for chemistry and other science majors interested in gaining knowledge and understanding of the environment. CHEM 304 has been designed for chemistry majors and other students with a strong chemistry background.
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 5 tutorials (1 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 independent practical project (weeks 8-12) with associated report and presentation
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, Self-motivation.
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