The Big Picture

Course Goals

Chem 450 provides an introduction to how analytical chemists design quantitative analytical methods. If you read almost any paper in the chemical or biochemical literature, you will find sections that rely on a careful, quantitative analysis. A paper in physical organic chemistry, for example, might include a detailed kinetic analysis using a technique called stopped-flow kinetics. Although the paper's methods section provides details on individual experiments, how do the authors know that their methods were capable of producing acceptable results? More important, why should you trust the results? If you trace back through the paper's references, eventually you will find a paper that describes a careful evaluation of stopped-flow kinetics and that characterizes its analytical utility. As with any area of chemistry, the possible topics are too broad to cover in a single semester; our content-specific goals, which necessarily are modest, are to understand:

In addition to these content-specific goals, we have several broader goals; these are to:

The Nitty-Gritty Details


The primary texts for this course are Analytical Chemistry 2.1, a free digitial textbook that provides a broad introduction to analytical chemistry. You can download the text, or selected chapters, using this link, and B. Magnusson and U. Örnemark (eds.) Eurachem Guide: The Fitness for Purpose of Analytical Methods – A Laboratory Guide to Method Validation and Related Topics, (2nd ed. 2014). ISBN 978-91-87461-59-0. (available for download here).

Course Structure

Chem 450 primarily is a lab course. The centerpiece of the course is a ten-week project in which you will optimize and validate an analytical method. Additional experiments will introduce you to reporting uncertainty and methods of standardization. Weekly class meetings serve three purposes: to introduce new concepts important to understanding how to validate an analytical method, discussion of papers from the literature, and opportunities to discuss your projects.


Your final grade is determined using the following percentages:

Letter grades are assigned using the following scale:

A (>92) A- (92-90)
B+ (89-87) B (86-83) B- (82-80)
C+ (79-77) C (76-73) C- (72-70)
D+ (69-67) D (66-63) D- (62-60)
F (<60)

Final averages are not rounded; to earn a grade of B instead of a grade of B-, for example, you need a final average of ≥ 83.0. These ranges are fixed with the following caveat:


Chem 450 is designated as an S-course. A signficant portion of our time in class is spent communicating chemistry though conversation, whether in the form of individual meetings, group discussion of papers from the literature, or presentations on your individual project. A course grade of C or better is required to receive S-certification.

Office Hours

Feel free to stop by my office (Julian 364) without an appointment at any of these times:

If you wish to schedule an appointment at another time, please catch me after class or lab, send me an email, or drop by my office.

Due Dates

Because I value thoughtful, well-written, and well-reasoned work more than absolute deadlines, the due dates for assignments allow for some flexiblity. Unless otherwise specified, there is no penalty for turning in an assignment within 24 hours of its deadline. In addition, for up to two assigments you may request an additional extension of 48 hours (for a total extension of 72 hours); you must inform me that you are using one of your additional 48-hour extensions in advance of the assignment's original due date.


A textbook is a poor substitute for the active learning that takes place in classroom. Although attendance for class sessions is not required, I encourage you to take advantage of our time together by engaging fully with the material and with your classmates during class. Whether you miss class for a legitimate reason or simply need a day off, it is your responsibility to know and to understand the material covered that day. Ask a classmate for a copy of his or her notes and visit the course website for copies of any handouts. Please note that we cannot take class time to review material for students who miss class.

Selected DePauw University Academic Policies

Academic Integrity

Although you may make frequent use of external resources (e.g. the internet, the library, other students) when an completing assignment it is important that the work you submit represents your understanding of the assignment and your work. A failure to do so is unethical and a serious breach of academic integrity. Be sure to review DePauw's guidelines for academic integrity, which are included in the Student Handbook; in particular, review the examples of plagiarism. Although often unintentional, plagiarism nevertheless is a serious violation and can result in a significant reduction in your grade for an assignment or for the course.

Be sure to consult with me if you are unsure about any issue concerning academic integrity.

Disability Services

It is the policy and practice of DePauw University to provide reasonable accommodations for students with properly documented disabilities. Written notification from Student Disability Services is required. If you are eligible to receive an accommodation and would like to request it for this course, please contact Student Disability Services. Allow one week advance notice to ensure enough time for reasonable accommodations to be made. Otherwise, it is not guaranteed that the accommodation can be provided on a timely basis. Accommodations are not retroactive. Students who have questions about Student Disability Services or who have, or think they may have, a disability (psychiatric, attentional, learning, vision, hearing, physical, medical, etc.) are invited to contact Student Disability Services for a confidential discussion in Union Building Suite 200 or by phone at 658-6267.

Religious Accomodations

DePauw accommodates students who are adherents of a religious tradition and wish to fulfill obligations of that religious tradition on holy days. Students are expected to notify their instructors of their intent to fulfill the obligations of their religious tradition well in advance of these days. For the sake of this policy, “holy days” are defined as periods of time in which either activities required by normal class participation are prohibited by a religious tradition, or a special worship obligation is required by a religious tradition.