Students from a range of science degree programs and with various science career interests take courses in gas chromatography because of its versatile applications. It is used in the pharmaceutical and petroleum industries, in environmental management for the detection of toxins and pollutants, in forensics to reveal drug use, and in the analysis of foods and flavors. While the subject is not fully explored until the graduate level, there are various undergraduate courses, such as analytical chemistry, that introduce gas chromatography and its underlying principles. At the graduate level, there are courses devoted specifically to gas chromatography. Common concepts in gas chromatography courses can include the following:
- Flame ionization
- Carrier gases
- Detection systems
- Mass spectrometry
- Practical applications
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List of Common Courses
Analytical Chemistry Course
This course is a standard prerequisite for instrumental analysis and other high-level chemistry courses that involve the study of gas chromatography. Second-semester analytical chemistry courses sometimes include an introduction to chromatographic analysis. Other topics, covered in both laboratory and lecture format, can include statistical analysis, spectroscopy and electrochemistry.
Instrumental Analysis Course
This course is a general study of the instruments and methods used in chemical analysis, and almost always includes gas chromatography in the curriculum. At the undergraduate level, this is the most common course in which gas chromatography is introduced. Other subjects include infrared and ultraviolet spectroscopy, electrochemistry, flame photometry, and magnetic resonance spectrometry. Students are asked to make chemical measurements in the lab portion of the class, and to interpret and present their data. This course usually has an analytical and physical chemistry prerequisite.
Principles of Chemical Separation Course
This course features a study of separation theories, which can be applied to a variety of forms of chemical analysis. High-resolution gas chromatography is covered, along with high-performance liquid chromatography. Other models of separation include reverse-phase, normal-phase, ion-exchange and size-exclusion. Instrumentation, measurement and data analysis are also a part of this curriculum.
Gas Chromatography Course
Graduate level chemistry courses become more specific and more detailed; as a result, gas chromatography becomes a course in and of itself. This course offers an in-depth study of gas chromatographic analysis, as well as the uses to which it can be applied to practical analytical problem-solving. The study of the instrumentation used in this process continues here at an advanced level. Other topics can include further exploration of chromatographic separation, separation dynamics, quantitative techniques and column selection.