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Core modules 

In our core chemistry modules we balance the importance of providing you with a good understanding of the basic principles of chemistry, with some opportunities to see the exciting contributions chemistry can make in the modern world.

Lecturers and tutors will often link the material they teach to ‘real-world’ examples.

The general philosophy we adopt is to break down the artificial barriers between the different branches of chemistry (such as inorganic, physical, organic and biological) so that you can appreciate that chemistry is a unified discipline in which the underlying principles apply to all branches.

The topics in our Core Chemistry modules for Years 1 to 3 are detailed below.

This information is subject to change, as we regularly update and refine our courses to keep our teaching as up-to-date as possible.

Year 1

The Autumn term introduces themes of structure and bonding, and chemical change and reactivity, with practical courses (in synthesis and thermodynamics) complementing the lectures.

Students will be introduced to:

  • independent study
  • group work
  • presentation skills
  • a quantitative science course is provided for all students

The Spring and Summer terms are divided into two interdisciplinary modules, that introduce key chemical principles in the areas of analysis, structure and bonding, and reactivity and mechanism.

You will carry out experiments in analytical chemistry and kinetics, and a 2 week integrated chemistry project, to give you a flavour of the research experience.

All students take a mathematics course to support the quantitative aspects of the Chemistry degree.

Fundamentals of chemistry (Autumn term; 30 credits)

Skills for chemists I (Autumn - Summer term; 10 credits)

Year 1 practical chemistry (Autumn - Summer term; 20 credits)

Chemical properties and analysis (Spring - Summer term; 30 credits)

Molecules and reactions (Spring - Summer term; 30 credits)

Year 2

In Year 2, the courses in the Autumn term extends the ideas of synthesis and analysis developed in the earlier core modules, including exploring new developments in the study of biological chemistry, chemical reaction rates and a systematic approach to organic synthesis, supported by practical work in organic synthesis and inorganic chemistry.

This is followed in the Spring and Summer terms with courses on synthesis, structure and mechanism, and the interaction of radiation with molecules.

Topics include the study of mechanisms of inorganic chemistry, detailed aspects of organic synthesis, electronic and vibrational spectroscopy, spectroscopy fundamentals, molecular orbital theory and chemical processes, together with supporting practical work in physical chemistry.

Molecules in Action (Autumn term; 20 credits)

Theory, Analysis and Mechanisms (Autumn term; 20 credits)

Reactivity (Spring - Summer term; 30 credits)

Spectroscopy and Chemistry (Spring - Summer term; 20 credits)

Year 3

In Year 3, the modules cover some modern and exciting developments in inorganic, organic and physical chemistry.

This includes bioinorganic chemistry (including coordination chemistry of metals in biological systems, such as proteins) in Advanced Core Chemistry 1, supramolecular and nanoscale chemistry (a relatively new field of Chemistry in which components in a molecular system are held together by intermolecular forces) in Advanced Core Chemistry 2 and molecular reaction dynamics (including the use of computer simulations) in Advanced Core Chemistry 3.

For practical work, BSc students will carry out a research project (20 credits) and a scientific literacy/integrated spectroscopy module (10 credits) in the Autumn and Spring terms.

MChem students will complete a research training module (30 credits) spanning all three terms.

Inorganic chemistry (Autumn, Spring and Summer terms; 20 credits)

  • Bioinorganic chemistry
  • Statistical thermodynamics
  • Applications to quantum chemistry workshops
  • Structure determination in inorganic chemistry
  • Periodic trends in inorganic chemistry
  • Photochemistry and UV spectra of transitional metal compounds
  • f-Elements and nuclear chemistry
  • Inorganic materials chemistry

Organic chemistry (Autumn, Spring and Summer terms; 20 credits)

  • Advanced NMR spectroscopy
  • Pericyclic reaction processes
  • Electronic states of atoms and molecules
  • Advanced separations and mass spectrometry
  • Main group chemistry: bonding and applications
  • Synthetic frontiers of inorganic chemistry and ligand design
  • Radicals in synthesis
  • Processes at solid surfaces
  • Supramolecular and nanoscale chemistry
  • Structures of natural products
  • Asymmetric synthesis
  • Metal-mediated synthesis

Physical chemistry (Autumn, Spring and Summer terms; 20 credits)

  • Molecular astronomy and rotational spectroscopy
  • Lasers
  • Principles of diffraction
  • Electronic properties of materials
  • f-block Chemistry
  • Materials and nanoparticles
  • Electronic spectra and photochemistry
  • Surfactants, miscelles and mesophases 


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