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Literature Review Skills - CHE00011M

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  • Department: Chemistry
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Duncan MacQuarrie
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

The module aims to develop students' skills in searching and assimilating literature, as well as developing the ability to critically appraise and organise the material. The material is written up as a literature review in an area related to the student's research project

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21 to Summer Term 2020-21

Module aims

The aim of this module is to develop and to improve your scientific information retrieval, organisation and writing skills, and critical assessment of other scientists work. These are important transferable skills, which are used in the preparation of all scientific publications and reports. Individual components include:

  • searching for relevant references by using search engines, in particular Web of Science and databases, such as Beilstein, Web of Knowledge, Reaxys, ChemSpider, SciFinder;
  • comprehension, organisation and prioritisation of the retrieved information;
  • critical evaluation of the material;
  • writing an interesting and critical review of the literature in the subject area of your MChem research project.

The literature review written within this module can form the basis of the introduction to your project report.

Module learning outcomes

  • Students will develop skills in researching the scientific literature.
  • Students will further develop their scientific writing skills.
  • Students will learn about how to properly reference material taken from the literature.

Module content

The review should ideally be between 2500 and 3000 words long, as in this many words you should be able to say what you need to clearly. This limit does not include references, tables, tables of contents or legends to tables or figures and within sensible limits of clarity and good layout, there is no limit to the number of figures or tables you can include. However, figure and table captions should not be used to introduce extra ideas not discussed in the text or as a way of adding extra text. The upper limit is an absolute 3000 words and the penalties for exceeding this length are set out above. Conversely, while there is no explicit penalty for writing fewer than 2500 words, we also believe that it is unlikely that you will be able to cover the breadth of material necessary in so few words.

The referencing should reflect the extensive reading you have done in preparing the review and references should be presented correctly and consistently in the accepted style of one of the major journal houses (e.g. Royal Society of Chemistry, American Chemical Society).

The review should end with a critical conclusion. This is not the same as a simple summary, rather it should gather together the most important parts of the review and should make critical comments. The conclusion should, therefore, show evidence of your imprint and your contribution to the discussion of the area of literature that you have reviewed.


Task Length % of module mark
Literature Review Skills
N/A 100

Special assessment rules




Module feedback

The closed examinations are marked typically within 10 days with mark slips (with per-question break-down) being returned to students via supervisors. Outline answers are made available via the Chemistry web pages when the students receive their marks, so that they can assess their own detailed progress/achievement. The examiners reports for each question are made available to the students via the Chemistry web pages.

Indicative reading

P. Atkins, T. Overton, J. Rourke, M. Weller, F. Armstrong, “Shriver and Atkin’s Inorganic Chemistry”, Oxford University Press, 2010. Available from University library.

J. Clayden, N. Greeves, S. Warren, P. Wothers, “Organic Chemistry”, Oxford University Press, 2001. Available from University library.

P. Atkins, J. de Paula, “Atkins' Physical Chemistry”, Oxford University Press, 2010. Available from University library.

D. A. Skoog, D. M. West, F. J. Holler, S. R. Crouch, “Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry”, Thomson/Brooks/Cole, 2012. Available from University library.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students