Thousands of pupils complete free online chemistry course

News | Posted on Tuesday 26 May 2020

The University’s massive open online course (MOOC) in Chemistry has so far been completed by 15,000 pupils from a wide range of backgrounds.

A recent analysis of the success of the course also found that in 2018, over 20 per cent of applicants to study Chemistry at York mentioned completing the online course in their UCAS applications. The course has received a high level of positive feedback and learner engagement – with over 10,000 comments posted by learners.


The course, which looks at the chemistry behind perfume, medicine, brewing and sport, is designed to help Chemistry students in years 12 and 13 transition to university learning.

Students can do experiments in their kitchens at home while connecting with a global community of other learners. The format combines bite-sized videos, text, polls, quizzes and practical activities, with weekly competitions, in over 80 learning steps and there are opportunities for students to upload the results of their practical work.

Recent research initiatives by the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories are included in the programme and it also highlights career opportunities for chemistry graduates in the perfume industry, drug discovery, food chemistry and materials science.

The course was developed by Professor Andy Parsons from the Department of Chemistry and is facilitated by current  York Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence undergraduates. Professor Parsons said: “Learners aged 16-18 have been badly affected by the COVID-19 crisis and so this highly successful course may be of particular benefit to them at this very challenging time.


"The course has been shown to have excellent educational outcomes, with positive student attitudes, a high level of learner engagement, and a significant impact on students making the transition to university."

Molly, a current York undergraduate who took the MOOC as an A Level student, said: "I completed the MOOC in order to give the chemistry I had learned at A Level some everyday context such as the chemistry of a cup of tea.

"I loved doing small experiments in my kitchen to see how everyday items such as spices affected the lasting life of rice pudding! The MOOC really built on my A Level knowledge and helped with the step up to university level work. I found the antibiotics section particularly interesting and I loved being able to ask questions about the topic in the comments and get quick responses."

The University runs a variety of MOOCs on a range of different topics, this free online course starts again on 29 June 2020.

Contact us

Our response to the coronavirus pandemic

We’re working with partners across the region to help support those most in need during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Find out more about our civic mission and what we’re doing to help

Contact us