Chemistry students across the nation and the world will have free and open access to videotaped, online classes from UC Irvine under an unusual initiative starting Monday.

UC Irvine’s “OpenChem” program will allow curious visitors and serious science scholars to watch 15 quarter–length undergraduate chemistry courses and some graduate-level lectures, according to a campus announcement. It is not for degree credit but is expected to help students and the public prepare for examinations, review material before taking credit courses or just explore things for knowledge’s sake.

It is a collaboration between UC Irvine’s School of Physical Sciences and the university’s OpenCourseWare program, which has been putting many classes and lectures online in various disciplines.

OpenChem will allow students “to follow a coherent and integrated pathway toward full mastery of undergraduate chemistry,” said Gary W. Matkin, UC Irvine’s dean of Continuing Education, Distance Learning and Summer Session, in a statement. “This is the first time that students and professors can find a complete undergraduate major in a consistent and high quality video format on a single website.”

This story was reported by Times Staff Writer Larry Gordon.