Laboratory work

I found the first term synthesis laboratory course so exciting - the opportunity to synthesise products and analyse them independently has been a great experience

Giuseppina, Year 1 MChem

Practical chemistry is designed to complement your theoretical studies and constitutes most of the continuously assessed parts of your degree.

A wide variety of experiments are carried out, from the synthesis of target compounds to a crime-scene investigation using forensic methodology.

The Department has large well-equipped teaching laboratories, offering an extensive range of modern instrumentation, including spectrometers and chromatographic apparatus.

Laboratory work carried out in years 1 and 2 include the following areas;

  • Modern organic and inorganic synthetic techniques.
  • Chromatographic methods used in the separation and purification of reaction products.
  • Spectroscopic techniques - infrared, nuclear magnetic resonance and atomic absorption spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry used in chemical analysis and in the study of molecular structure.
  • Kinetic and thermodynamic studies.
  • Some study of reaction mechanics and intermediates.

It also gives you experience in handling and interpreting experimental data and demonstrates how principles taught in lecture courses can be put to use.

Read Giuseppina's experience of lab work in her first term.

As the course progresses, you have an increasing range of choice in the experiments you do, and these also become more open-ended. Right from the first term, there are "mini-projects" in which you can plan and carry out experiments to investigate a particular problem.

Our practical courses have been designed to be accessible to all. The laboratories include low-level fume-hoods for students who would require them.

We have recently initiated an ambitious project to develop on-line resources to support the teaching of introductory skills in practical chemistry.

Our new facilities include state-of-the-art video hardware and software that we have used to record short clips that illustrate key laboratory procedures.

These materials focus on helping our new students adapt to the demands of a university practical course. The materials are accessible through the university's 'virtual learning environment' so that they can be reviewed anytime, such as in advance of, during and after laboratory sessions. For a  representative video clip please see below (this video has no sound).

VLE video image