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ATM306 Basics of atmospheric chemistry, 5 cr 
Code ATM306  Validity 01.01.2017 -
Name Basics of atmospheric chemistry  Abbreviation Basics of atmos 
Scope5 cr   
TypeAdvanced studies
  GradingGeneral scale 
    Can be taken more than onceno
Unit Master's Programme in Atmospheric Sciences 

Target group 

Master’s Programme in Atmospheric Sciences is responsible for the course.

Module where the course belongs to:

  • ATM300 Advanced Studies in Atmospheric Sciences
    Compulsory for:
    1. Study Track in Atmospheric Chemistry and Analysis
    Optional for:
    1. Study Track in Aerosol Physics
    1. Study Track in Meteorology

The course is available to students from other degree programmes.


As early as possible in the beginning of Master's studies.

The course will be lectured in the II period.

Learning outcomes 
  • You will learn the basic concepts and unifying features of atmospheric chemistry, including the concept of oxidation and the relationship between altitude, chemical energy and chemical complexity, as well as the key chemical features of the atmospheric N, C, O, H and S cycles
  • You will be able to apply kinetic and thermodynamic tools to solve simple atmospheric chemical problems, including concentration unit conversions, computing lifetimes using given rate coefficients, and using the pseudo-steady state approximation to simplify reaction rate expressions.
  • You will understand the main features of stratospheric chemistry (Chapman mechanism, catalytic ozone-depleting cycles) and tropospheric chemistry (formation of oxidants, radical oxidation mechanisms, the role of NOx, and the characteristics of photochemical smog).
Completion methods 

Exercises, and final (open-book) exam.


No formal prerequisites, but high-school level understanding of chemistry or physics highly recommended.

Recommended optional studies 

Advanced atmospheric chemistry courses at the physics and chemistry departments are recommended for those interested in the subject: ATM358 Atmospheric photochemistry and reaction kinetics, and ATM307 Atmospheric and aerosol chemistry.

  • Unifying and common concepts in atmospheric chemistry
  • Atmospheric composition, and concentration unit conversions
  • Thermodynamic and kinetic tools needed in atmospheric chemistry
  • Elemental cycles of N, C, O, H and S
  • Key features of stratospheric (ozone) chemistry
  • Key features of tropospheric (radical oxidation) chemistry, including air pollution
Study materials and literature 

There is no official coursebook. Lecture notes will be distributed via Moodle.

For deeper understanding, any of the following books could be useful. Jacob’s book is freely available online (though a bit old by now). Holloway & Wayne especially recommended as a relatively cheap and modern introductory book.

• D. J. Jacob: Introduction to atmospheric chemistry, Princetown Univ. Press, 1999. (Available online:

• J. H. Seinfeld & S.N. Pandis: Atmospheric chemistry and physics, 2nd/3rd ed, Wiley, 2006/2016

• R. P. Wayne: Chemistry of atmospheres, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 2000

• A. M. Holloway, R. P. Wayne: Atmospheric Chemistry, RSC Publishing, 2010

Activities and teaching methods in support of learning 
  • Weekly lectures and exercises (individual work, with some pair or group work during lectures)
  • presentation (group work)
  • laboratory visits (group work)
  • Exercise and poster workshops once or twice during the course to support students
Assessment practices and criteria 

Final grade is based on exercises (38%), attending visits (2%), presentation (30%) and open-book exam (30%).  The presentation grading is partly based on peer assessment. 45% of total points needed to pass.


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